Black Rockfish (Sebastes melanops)

Black Rockfish
Black Rockfish
Category: Fish
Related species groups: Rockfish

Description and Range

Physical description

Black Rockfish are mottled grey and black with a black spot on the back of the spiny dorsal fin. This spot disappears as the fish grows. As adults they may have dark stripes visible on the head extending from the eye across the gill cover. The dark color on the back is often lighter on the sides, giving a speckled appearance, and the overall body color fades to nearly white on the belly. This species has 8 weak head spines and lacks a symphyseal knob on the lower jaw.

This species can be distinguished from similar species through body coloration, spotting on the dorsal fin, and a large mouth extending past the eye. Widow Rockfish have a dusky brown body coloration with a small mouth that does not extend beyond the eye, and Yellowtail Rockfish have dusky yellow fins and a green-brown body. Blue Rockfish and Deacon Rockfish have small mouths that do not extend past the eye, as well as lack spotting on the dorsal fin. Additionally, Blue Rockfish have a distinctly mottled body color pattern.

Black Rockfish can grow up to 69 cm (27.6 in) in length, and 6 kg (13.3 lbs) in weight. Maximum age is at least 56 years old.

Geographic range

Black Rockfish range from Amchitka Island (in the Aleutian Islands) and Kodiak Island, Alaska, to northern Baja, California. They have been found at water depths up to 366 m (1,200 ft), but are most commonly found in waters shallower than 73 m (240 ft). This species is known to form large schools in and around rocks and kelp.

State record

WeightAnglerLocationDate Caught
10.72 lbs Steven Charles Orr Ilwaco, Pacific County May 15, 2016

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