Marine Management News Fish Identification Quiz
September 2005

Photo by E. Roberts

This fish begins life in California waters with many thousands - sometimes millions - of its fellow hatchlings, during spawning periods from December through March each year. The tiny young fish, only a fraction of an inch long, are first seen in tide pools and nearshore kelp beds in April. As they mature, the young fish move to deeper, rocky bottom habitat (often where rock meets sand). Adults of this species are found most commonly in waters between 300 and 500 ft. deep.

Just like people, males and females of this species mature at different ages and sizes. Off California, many reach maturity by 13 years of age, when they measure between 16 and 21 inches in length. This slow-growing species can live to be more than 80 years old. The largest specimen on record was close to 30 inches long.

The first record of commercial use for this species extends back to the early 1880s when it was caught off San Francisco, dried, and salted for food. Over the years, this species has been plentiful in commercial trawl and hook-and-line landings in northern and central California, and has also been a staple of the recreational fishery. A recent stock assessment has shown that the current population has been reduced substantially from historical levels, leading to fishing restrictions intended to rebuild the stock.

This species ranges from the Gulf of Alaska to northern Baja California, although it is found less frequently south of the Santa Barbara Channel.

This fish is a canary rockfish, Sebastes pinniger. The bag limit for canary rockfish is currently zero fish - they may not be retained.