China Rockfish

China Rockfish

Species Details

Sebastes Nebulosus



Nearshore, Offshore

1 - 2 lbs.

14" - 18"

China Rockfish (Sebastes nebulosus) Fish Description

The China rockfish are notable for the distinct yellow stripe that starts from the third dorsal spine which can also be yellow in color. This patchy strip stretches laterally across their bodies, which can be black to blue-black in color. A sprinkling of tiny white and yellow spots cover their bodies, resembling the night sky.

The head spines on this fish species are thick. They also have a small mouth.

The China rockfish may be mistaken for the black-and-yellow rockfish (Sebastes chrysomelas) because of their similar coloring and mottling. The surest way to distinguish the two is by looking for the yellow lateral line that stretches across the body of the China rockfish.


Size and Diet

The adult China rockfish can measure up to 18 inches in length. The world record for this species is 4 pounds, and the oldest on record lived up to 79 years old.

The mature China rockfish consume crustaceans such as shrimp and crabs, as well as mollusks and small fishes. Young ones feed on crustaceans.


Interesting Facts about China Rockfish

  • China rockfish are known to be quite solitary. The adults of this fish species barely travel away from their territory, moving in within 33 feet of its territory.
  • The China rockfish can make themselves appear bigger and perhaps more intimidating to threats by erecting their spines.
  • The dorsal spine of the China rockfish can be mildly venomous.
  • The China rockfish are prey to sharks, dolphins, seals, and lingcod.


China Rockfish - Fishing Techniques

Adult China rockfish can be found in crevices and rocks as they like to live in between rocky spaces. They will take both bait and lures, so anglers should keep their bait or lure close to the very bottom and wait for them to grab. Because this fish species mostly keep to their territories, once you spot where they’re located, it’s only a matter of keeping your bait or lure down long enough for one of them to bite.

If you want to use a jig, go for something heavier if you’re fishing deep. But if you’re in shallower waters, you can go lighter. For lures, anglers can use octopus-type ones and will do well adding strips of squid to make it more attractive.

Like other rockfish, these gamefish don’t give a fight when caught. However, it is also important to note that if you catch one that you don’t intend to keep, you must practice safe releasing methods to help rockfish survive their release. The best way to do so is by doing a proper deepwater release and releasing them within two minutes of their capture.

Anglers are also advised to use release-friendly tackle and to use a single circle hook when fishing with bait, as these are relatively less susceptible to causing injury to the fish.


Habitat and Distribution

The China rockfish are generally distributed along the water of the Kechemak Bay in Cook Inlet, Alaska up to San Nicolas Island and Redondo Beach n the southern part of California.

Juvenile China rockfish start pelagic, but once they mature, they like to stay in one place for long periods. This solitary and territorial fish species like to live on rocky reefs with crevices, in depths between 30 to 300 feet.