Vermilion Rockfish


Family: Scorpaenidae (Scorpionfishes)

Genus and Species:
Sebastes miniatus

Description: The body of the vermilion rockfish is moderately deep and compressed. The upper profile of the head is some what curved; the mouth is large, with the lower jaw slightly projecting. The color is bright red on the body and fins; many with black and gray mottling on back and sides. On fish shorter than 12 inches, the mottling is much more apparent and the fins are often edged with black. The yelloweye and canary rockfishes are similar in appearance to the vermilion, but the bottom of the yelloweye and canary’s lower jaws are scaleless and feels smooth to the touch. The vermilion rockfish has scales on the bottom of the lower jaw which make it rough to the touch.

Range: Vermilion rockfish occur from San Benito Islands, Baja California, to Vancouver Island, Canada. They are generally caught over rocky bottoms at depths of 100 to 500 feet, although they have been taken from depths as great as 900 feet.

Natural History: The free swimming young of the vermilion rockfish feed primarily upon shrimp-like organisms, while the larger, bottom-living adults feed almost exclusively upon fishes, squid and octopus. Most fishes that are eaten are other smaller kinds of rockfish. Vermilion rockfish appear to mature and spawn for the first time when they are 3 or 4 years old. As with all other rockfish, fertilization is internal and they give birth to living young. A vermilion rockfish that was 20 inches long was estimated to contain 282,000 eggs. By this measure a 30 incher might contain as many as 500,000 eggs. The principal reproductive period lasts from December through March.

Fishing Information: Because a good rockfish “hole” often will yield a dozen or more kinds of rockfishes on any given day, it has been said that rockfish fishing is colorful, interesting, productive, and mysterious. Vermilion rockfish usually are found in the bag of “red” rockfish taken from one of these “holes.” The same rig, bait, and technique used for bocaccio works for vermilion rockfish. Again a lot of rebaiting time can be saved by using a tough, difficult to steal bait such as a piece of squid or salted mackerel.

Other Common Names: red snapper, red rock cod.

Largest Recorded: 30 inches; no weight recorded; however, they attain a weight of at least 15 pounds.

Habitat: Deep Rocky Environment

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