Copper Rockfish

From 27th Trip: Native Sun 3/4 Day Trip 12/21

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Sebastes caurinus

COMMON NAMES – Whitebelly Rockfish, Chucklehead, Never Die Rockfish

Body color: Dark brown to olive, washed w/ copper-pink and often splashed w/ dull yellow; posterior lateral line and lower sides usually white in fresh specimens, becoming copper-pink on prolonged exposure.

Maximum length: 22 in (58 cm)

Peritoneum color: light

Maximum depth: 100 fm (183 m)

Shape between eyes: concave

Common depth: <67 fm (<120 m)

The copper rockfish, sebastes caurinus, is a fish of the Sebastidae family (rockfish, rockcod and thornyheads).

It is a relatively common rockfish of the Pacific coast. It is very widespread in its distribution, known from the very northern reaches of the Gulf of Alaska, to the Pacific side of the Baja California peninsula, north of Guerrero Negro. The copper rockfish is also very widely distributed in depth, from the subtidal shallows to over 600ft.

Copper rockfish are known to be highly variable in coloration, ranging from a dark reddish brown, with pale copper blotching along the sides, to a lighter pinkish brown with a yellowish white mottling on the flanks. At one time it was thought that these variations were two different fish: Sebastes caurinus and Sebastes vexillaris. It is now known however that it is simply one species.

Males are known to mature between three and seven years, while females mature between four and eight years. Generally the larger a female is, the more young she will bear. Copper Rockfish are a viviparous fish giving birth to live young after a gestation period of around 10 months. They are a long lived fish reaching ages of over forty years old. Copper Rockfish are a modest fish reaching a maximum size of just 22in and a weight of 10lbs.

Juveniles are almost exclusively found in kelp beds and shallow rocky areas. They begin life feeding primarily on planktonic crustaceans. As they grow they continue to feed on increasingly larger crustaceans such as shrimp and crabs as well as squid and octopus. Smaller fish also make up a large part of their diet. In turn copper rockfish are preyed on by lingcod and cabezone and even salmon. Sea birds and sea mammals also take their toll, and also man. Copper Rockfish are known for the table quality of their flesh and their willingness as a sportfish. The adult copper rockfish is found very close to the bottom often touching. They are almost always associated in and around rocks, and almost never on sand. This rockfish is known to be very faithful to its chosen home and numerous tagging studies have shown that these rockfish travel no more than a mile from their chosen location.

About the Author

Sean loves to fish in Southern California and this site is his journal of his adventures in fishing. He started fishing when he was a little guy with his dad David, and has continued to this day with his family. In his day job, Sean has been a graphic designer for over 15 years, designing everything from in-store displays and signage for supermarkets to e-commerce auction sites for an online consumer electronics company. He was a web and graphic designer then later an art director for McMullen Argus Publishing (Primedia), building and working on sites for Lowrider Magazine and Super Chevy, plus 30 other automotive magazine sites. Sean seized the opportunity to teach other aspiring designers - a passion that took him first to Learning Tree University and then to Golden West College in Huntington Beach, CA, where he has been an integral part of the renowned digital arts department for more than ten years. Throughout his teaching career, Sean maintained a freelance business, designing for clients including the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards), Image Comics and many more. See his work at