ORION CHARTERS - ROCK FISH
There are more then 30 species of rockfish that inhabit PWS and the Gulf of Alaska. Of these 30 species, about 15 different species are common to the nearshore shelf area and may sometimes be caught while halibut fishing. Rockfish are divided into two types, "pelagic" - shallow, open water, and "non-pelagic" - deep water, bottom dwelling (demersal). Pelagic rockfish include Black, Dusky, and Yellowtails. Non-pelagic include Yelloweye, Quillback, Copper, China, Tiger, Silvergray, Rougheye and Shortrakers.
Yelloweye, Quillback, and Black rockfish have been aged at 114, 71 and 40 years old. Most pelagic rockfish from PWS caught by sport gear are 10 to 20 years old, however most non-pelagic rockfish such as yelloweyes and quillbacks are 12 to 60 years old. Rockfish do not start reproducing until they are at least 10 to 20 years old, and therefore are extremely susceptible to over-harvest. The rockfish swim bladders are not vented, so when they are brought to the surface their bladder expands, and compresses the internal organs. Any rockfish caught that has its stomach expanded outside its mouth will probably die.
Almost all the Rockfish that we catch are from the Gulf. These rockfish are mostly all larger/mature fish. Most of the spots that contain rockfish will have big schools (lots of numbers of rockfish) of all mixed species of rockfish. It is my theory that out in the Gulf the larger Halibut and Lingcod substantially prey upon the smaller size rockfish. Inside Prince William Sound the average size of Rockfish is substantially smaller, and the overall population is very small compared to out in the Gulf.
The problem associated with fishing for rockfish in the Gulf is that when you start catching them, everyone on the boat usually limits out quickly. Rockfish can not be returned to the water without almost certain mortality. Also, any rockfish removed from the water must be kept according to Alaska fish and game regulations. When posed the question of what to do in this situation, an Alaska Fish and Game representative told me that he recommended that we should move to a new location. While that may seem a simple enough answer, it has been our experience that when you move to a new location you just get a new flurry of rockfish from the new location. The solution to the problem that we have found to be most successful is that when somebody on the boat catches their limit of rockfish, they get to fish with a bait that will be too large for a rockfish to eat, i.e. large salmon head, rockfish head, etc. Not only does this prevent the person with the salmon head from catching additional rockfish, its chums in larger halibut and Lingcod, which will in turn scare away remaining rockfish.
Here are some pictures and additional information on some of the rockfish caught on ORION CHARTERS:
Yellow Eyed Rockfish
Red Snappers as they are commonly called are non-pelagic rockfish. These fish are brilliant orange in color and average 5 to 10 pounds. The Alaska State Record Yelloweye is 37#/36" (caught in Prince William Sound). These are the most common type of rockfish that we catch, making up perhaps 95%. A friend of mine caught several that were aged at 145 and 147 years old. The very old ones fade in color from bright orange to a pale yellow. Red snappers are excellent quality eating (my favorite).
26.0#/34" Red Snapper 2003 23.0#/33" Red Snapper 2003 24#/33" Red Snapper 2003
24.0#/33" Red Snapper 7/29/2002 23.4# Red Snapper 7/2/2001 caught by Sam Cornell of Valdez, AK
7/7/2002 - 20# Red Snapper 21.0# Red Snapper 7/2/00 caught by Tim Washeleski
21.0#, 20.2# Red Snapper- June 2001 22.5# Red Snapper 6/15/2001
Black Sea Bass (Sebastes melanops)
Black Bass are a Pelagic rockfish and are the next most common type of rockfish that we catch. These medium size rockfish are normally caught suspended in the water. They average around 5 pounds and can grow up to 24". This one pictured is above average size for a Black Bass. The National Audubon Society Field Guide to Fishes, Whales and Dolphins says that Black rockfish only get up to 10.5#, however we caught one that was 16.5#.
Black Sea Bass caught 6/5/2000.
China Rockfish (Sebastes nebulous)
China Rockfish are a small yellow and black non-pelagic rockfish normally around a foot in length. These fish can grow up to 17 inches in length. Their spines are mildly poisonous.
06/28/2000 China Rockfish
Are smaller non-pelagic rockfish that can grow to 24". They are fairly rare. We only catch a few of these per year. These fish have dark red stripes on pink/orange. They average 3 to 5 pounds.
Pink phase Tiger Rockfish 8/11/2000 Orange phase Tiger Rockfish 9/10/2002
Orange Phase Tiger Rockfish
Male Kelp Greenling Female Kelp greenling
Kelp Greenling are actually in the Greenling family and not a true rockfish. They can get up to 21" in length, the ones pictured here were around 18" long and all were released.
Whitespotted greenling (Hexagrammos stelleri)
NORTHERN ROCKFISH (Sebastes polyspinis)
This is a rare catch (for us). It looks kind of like a Dusky Rockfish, however it has a pink/orange belly.
7/31/2002 Northern Rockfish
7/17/2002 Northern Rockfish
COPPER ROCKFISH (Sebastes caurinus)
Copper Rockfish are a small non-pelagic rockfish that can grow to 22".
6/2/2001 Copper Rockfish
SILVERGREY ROCKFISH (Sebastodes brevispinis)r
Silvergrey rockfish are a medium size non-pelagic rockfish that can grow to 28"
6/16/2001 Silvergrey Rockfish
Light Dusky Rockfish (Sebastos ciliantus)
June 2001 Light Dusky Rockfish
Quillback Rockfish (Sebastes maliger)
Quillback rockfish are non-pelagic rockfish that can grow up to 24"..
Bocaccio (Sebastes paucispinis)
Dave & Frieda Wiley
P.O. Box 3577
Valdez, AK 99686
PHONE: (907) 835-8610
Check out these other pages for pictures and information.
Halibut, Lingcod, Salmon Shark, Rockfish, Salmon, Unusual Fish
PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND INFO:
Sceenery, Glaciers, Whales, Sea Lions
ORION CHARTERS INFO:
Catch Statistics, Prices, Terms & Conditions, Boat Info, Politics
This page was last updated on 10/06/06.