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Rockfish are distinguished by a stout, heavy build, large broad heads, usually bearing spines and strong ridges, and heavily-spined fins. The colour patterns vary from black and drab green through a brilliant orange and crimson; some are accented by the presence of wide red or black vertical stripes.
There is little information available about the migratory patterns of these fish and they are considered to be a non-migratory species with localized movement only. Although there are some species that undergo seasonal depth migrations, rockfish are primarily a bottom residing fish.
BC Rockfish come in all shapes, sizes and colours. These spiky, spiny, striped and speckled creatures are favourites with sportsmen and naturalists alike.
Unfortunately, recent monitoring and research programs have indicated that rockfish stocks in the Strait of Georgia are at low levels. Unlike salmon, rockfish rarely survive after being caught; therefore, one of the ways to ensure their survival is to avoid catching them. Rockfish live long lives, and are between the ages of 7 to 18 years (depending on the species) when they breed. They also live for a long time; the maximum ages for yelloweye rockfish is 115 years and 76 years for guillback rockfish. That is why rebuilding of these stocks, to ensure sustainability, takes a long time and rockfish must be carefully managed.
These fish are found near rocky reefs, in inlets and in shallow rock piles. A quillback is easily identified by its high dorsal fin with deep notches between the spine, large mouth and compressed body. Colouring is brown and yellow with orange-brown speckling on the lower back. The fins are dark, except for a yellow streak through the spiny dorsal fin. Average length is 35 cm; life span is up to 76 years.
In keeping with their name, these fish sport bright yellow eyes and are a bright red-orange in colour which fades to a yellowish-pink shade lower on the sides and belly; thus they are more commonly known as Red Snapper. While these fish are usually found in shallow water in early spring, they are generally caught in deep water (50 -100 metres). They will take bait such as herring but are also taken on jigs. A spine grows above each eye socket, and ridges grow behind the eyes. Their colouring is yellow-orange washed with pink tones. Fins are pink with black on the tips and include a large spiny dorsal fin with irregular notches and a rounded tail. Average length is 50 cm; life span is up to 115 years.
A solitary, secretive rockfish that is typically found in deep water, especially near rocky crevices and caves. Striped like a tiger, these fish feature shades of pink, grey or rose, with five black or red bars running vertically across the body, and two black or red bars radiating backwards from the eyes. Bony ridges on the head may also distinguish them from other species. In younger individuals, tips of the ventral and anal fins are darkened. Average length is 30 cm.
These fish are striking in their variable colours, which may include dark or olive brown tones washed with copper-pink and occasionally splashed with yellow. Two yellow bands radiate backwards from the eyes, and the fins are copper-black. Length is up to 55 cm; lifespan can be 45 years.
Source: Fisheries and Oceans Canada