The rockfish belongs to the genus Sebastes and subfamily Sebastinae. These fish get their name from their varied colors that help them blend into the ocean floor. There are many kinds of rockfish and the yelloweye is only one of them.
One, cool fact about yelloweye is how long they live. These fish are one of the longest living fishes and have been aged between 114 and 120 years old!
Their fillets are delicious, the colors are beautiful, and they are super fun to catch. However, since they are a cold-water fish, they tend to take a long time to grow and therefore are slow to make a population comeback. The yelloweye rockfish was first declared overfished in 2002 and it is now heavily protected. Some of the harshest restrictions are around Washington state.
They have found genetic differences between rockfish that live in more coastal waters and those that live in deeper waters offshore. You will find them along the Eastern Pacific all the way from the coasts of Alaska to Baja California (Ensenada).
You can age a yelloweye rockfish by just looking at their color. When they are young, they are a bright orange color. As they mature, their color becomes a pale yellow.
The juveniles have two reddish and white stripes along the belly that help distinguish them from the adults. The juveniles are bright red compared to their elders. Therefore, when mounting your yelloweye rockfish, it is best to take photos if you plan to release them or keep them for dinner. You will also notice black on the tips of the fins. They don’t really reach maturity until they are around 20 years of age.
These fish are excellent hunters. When they are young, their diet is mainly diatoms, small crustaceans, and any other little organisms they can find on the bottom of the ocean. As they age, they learn to eat other small fishes and small invertebrates.