The Rock Fish of the Pacific Northwest
Rock Fish are bass like in appearance, with large mouths and eyes, spines on the head and gill plates, and prominent fins. Color varies between species with shallow water types generally having dark colors like green, brown or black and deep water species usually more orange or red coloring.
There are 35 species of these fish known from British Columbia. Depending on the species, they can range from 18 cm in length up to 120 cm. Inshore rock fish need your help. Catch monitoring and research programs have indicated inshore fish stocks in the Strait of Georgia are at very low levels of abundance.
They are very slow growing and do not reproduce until they are quite old, from 7 to 20 years, depending on the species. They also live for a long time, the maximum age is up to 120 years depending on species. Egg production differs with each species, some can produce as many as 1,000,000 eggs at one time. Fertilization is internal for all of them, and the females supply nutrients internally to the developing larvae. Four to five weeks after fertilization, females give birth to larvae about the size of an eyelash.
Unlike salmon, they rarely survive after being hooked and brought to the surface.
Pacific northwest rock fish are beautiful. They come in all sizes, shapes and colors, from the striped tiger to the incredibly bright canary fish.
They like to live in caves formed by rock piles, especially if the rocks are piled to let the fish hide deep down. Because they like caves that are close to their body size, it’s easy to find them when diving, just look for a rock pile with rock fish sized gaps.
They are an important part of the diet of many large ocean animals that a lot of us know and love, like harbor seals, sea lions, and lingcod.