Marine Management News Fish Identification Quiz
May 2007

May 2007 Fish Quiz

This fish begins life in California waters with many thousands- sometimes over a million- of its fellow larvae during the January through May spawning period. Young fish begin moving inshore to intertidal and estuarine habitats at around 4 to 6 months old and 1 to 2 inches in length, although some may choose to stay near drifting algae and seagrass. As it matures, this fish moves into deeper water. It frequently forms loose schools 10 to 20 ft. above shallow (to 120 ft.) rocky reefs, but may also be observed as individual fish resting on rocky bottom, or schooling in midwater over deeper (to 240 ft.) reefs. Adults are most commonly found in water less than 55 ft. deep, but they have been found down to 1,200 ft.

This species ranges from the Aleutian Islands of western Alaska in the north to Huntington Beach, California in the south, but it is not frequently seen south of Pt. Conception.

This fish has a relatively fast growth rate. First year growth is usually 3½ to 4 inches; by age five, growth rate for females surpasses that of males, and by age 15, females may average about 2½ inches longer than males. This species reaches a maximum size of around 27 inches long and 10 lb., and can live to be 50 years old.

Recreational anglers often catch this fish, particularly in northern California. It is taken mostly incidentally in the commercial fishery, although increased landings have been seen for the live-fish fishery, primarily from Morro Bay north to Fort Bragg. The federal government has reported that the number of fish greater than two years old underwent a 62 percent decline between 1945 and 1986; however since then, especially in 1994 and 1995, large numbers of new, younger fish have bolstered the population off northern California and Oregon.

This fish is a black rockfish, Sebastes melanops. The daily bag limit for black rockfish is currently 10 fish during the open season, in combination with other RCG Complex fishes.