Brown Rockfish
Sebastes auriculatus

Physical Description

  • Light brown coloration with dark brown mottling
  • Prominent dark brown spot on opercle (gill cover flap)
  • Rounded bottom fin
  • Fin spines are sharp and mildly venomous
  • Can grow up to 22 inches long
  • Females are larger than males


  • Prince William Sound, northern Gulf of Alaska to Bahia San Hipolito, Central Baja California, Mexico
  • Many juveniles live in San Francisco Bay


  • Shallow waters, subtidal (below the low-tide line) areas, bays
  • Found in rocky areas, kelp beds, eelgrass beds, pilings
  • Older brown rockfish move to offshore, deeper waters
  • Found at depths of 0-444 feet, but commonly less than 175 feet


  • Reproduction is oviparous (female lays eggs)
  • Females lay 55,000-339,000 eggs annually


  • Juvenile brown rockfish feed on small crustaceans, amphipods, and copepods
  • Larger brown rockfish feed on crabs, shrimp, and smaller fish


  • Lingcod, birds, dolphins, seals, sharks, cabezon, and salmon¬†

Interesting Facts

  • Often called Chocolate Bass or Bolina, for Bolinas Bay, where they were first caught in large numbers.
  • They rarely move more than a couple of miles from home in their whole lives!¬†
  • They can live up to 34 years.

Sources:; Fishbase;;

Photo: Herb Gruenhagen

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