Nearshore, Shelf and Slope Rockfishes of California

For management purposes, rockfish are divided into four main categories, depending on the depth where they are most frequently encountered: shallow nearshore, deeper nearshore, shelf, and slope.

Nearshore Rockfish

Nearshore rockfish can be found from the rocky intertidal zone out to deeper water, although most of these species spend the majority of their lives in relatively shallow water.

As part of the Marine Life Management Act, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife produced a Fishery Management Plan for the nearshore region as described in the Nearshore Fisheries Management Act.

Nearshore rockfish include:

Shallow Nearshore Rockfish

  • black-and-yellow (Sebastes chrysomelas)
  • China (S. nebulosus)
  • gopher (S. carnatus)
  • grass (S. rastrelliger)
  • kelp (S. atrovirens)

Deeper Nearshore Rockfish

  • black (Sebastes melanops)
  • blue (S. mystinus)
  • brown (S. auriculatus)
  • calico (S. dalli)
  • copper (S. caurinus)
  • olive (S. serranoides)
  • quillback (S. maliger)
  • treefish (S. serriceps)

link opens in new windowView images of these nearshore rockfish (PDF)

Shelf Rockfish

Shelf rockfish are generally taken in the deep waters of the continental shelf. Shelf rockfish include:

  • bocaccio (Sebastes paucispinis)
  • bronzespotted (S. gilli)
  • canary (S. pinniger)
  • chameleon (S. phillipsi)
  • chilipepper (S. goodei)
  • cowcod (S. levis)
  • dwarf-red (S. rufinanus)
  • flag (S. rubrivinctus)
  • freckled (S. lentiginosus)
  • greenblotched (S. rosenblatti)
  • greenspotted (S. chlorostictus)
  • greenstriped (S. elongatus)
  • halfbanded (S. semicinctus)
  • honeycomb (S. umbrosus)
  • Mexican (S. macdonaldi)
  • pink (S. eos)
  • pinkrose (S. simulator)
  • pygmy (S. wilsoni)
  • redstriped (S. proriger)
  • rosethorn (S. helvomaculatus)
  • rosy (S. rosaceus)
  • silvergrey (S. brevispinis)
  • speckled (S. ovalis)
  • squarespot (S. hopkinsi)
  • starry (S. constellatus)
  • stripetail (S. saxicola)
  • swordspine (S. ensifer)
  • tiger (S. nigrocinctus)
  • vermilion (S. miniatus)
  • widow (S. entomelas)
  • yelloweye (S. ruberrimus)
  • yellowtail (S. flavidus)

link opens in new windowView images of these shelf rockfish (PDF)

Slope Rockfish

Slope rockfish are generally found in the deeper waters of the shelf and down the continental slope. These fish are not often encountered by sport fishermen. Slope rockfish include:

  • aurora (Sebastes aurora)
  • bank (S. rufus)
  • blackgill (S. melanostomus)
  • darkblotched (S. crameri)
  • Pacific ocean perch (S. alutus)
  • redbanded (S. babcocki)
  • rougheye (S. aleutianus)
  • sharpchin (S. zacentrus)
  • shortraker (S. borealis)
  • splitnose (S. diploproa)
  • yellowmouth (S. reedi)

link opens in new windowView images of these slope rockfish (PDF)