Author: Spencer Mann

Common name(s): Copper Rockfish, White Belly, and Chucklehead.

Scientific name: Sebastes caurinus

Size range: 12- 22 inches (38.1cm – 55.9cm) and weigh 4 – 10lbs

Identifying Features:

The Copper Rockfish can come in a wide range of sizes and colours. The generic colours are a white belly with orange or copper sides running from head to tail. These fish have a distinct line that runs from the front to the back of the fish. Other colours range from orange, gold, copper with a yellow highlight or brown with a pinkish tinge. They have a spiky dorsal fin with two smaller fins near the tail. Females can be identified easily simply by their size. They are larger than males because space is needed to hold more young. The young are generally the same colours as the juveniles and adults, just very small.


These fish are found along the west coast in the Pacific Ocean and commonly found in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. They have been found as far north as the Gulf of Alaska. Copper Rockfish live in shallow waters about 10 – 15ft deep to the dark depths of 600ft. They can live with other creatures in similar depths and have no problem adapting. Adult fish hide out along the sea floor around rocks and plants. Once the Copper Rockfish has chosen an area to call “home”, it will not swim more than a mile from that place.


Juveniles begin feeding on planktonic crustaceans until they are able to hunt bigger prey. Older Copper Rockfish will feed on organisms such as shrimp, snails, small crabs, worms, small fish, squid and octopuses.


The juveniles hide in kelp forests and rocky areas to avoid predators such as Lingcod, Cabezon, and also salmon. As they mature, Copper Rockfish are prayed on by sea birds and sea mammals like seals and otters. As well as humans who catch them as food and for fun because they are considered a sport fish. Copper Rockfish are known to be the last to die in a net full of rockfish. They will continue to try to escape long after others have died.

Life Cycle:

Males mature between the ages of three and seven years and females mature between four to eight years. Females are generally larger to obtain up to 20,000 eggs. Each egg is 0.05 inches in diameter and the walls are 0.1 inch thick. Normally fish eggs develop outside a female, but for the Copper Rockfish, it’s internal. These females are known as a viviparous fish meaning that they will give birth to live young after 8 – 10 months. The Copper Rockfish can reach the ages of forty plus years. The young are generally the same colours as the juveniles and adults.


Hart, J.L. 1988. Pacific fishes of Canada. Ottawa, Canada. Canadian Government Publishing Centre.

Updated May 11 2009 at 6:19. Copper Rockfish. Wikipedia.

Author and last update is not known. Marine Sport Fish Identification: Rockfish. California Department of Fish and Game.

Illustration by Spencer Mann

Photos by D. Young

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