Sebastes Variegatus



Offshore, Continental Shelves, Slopes

24 - 29 pounds

6" - 15"

Harlequin Rockfish

Harlequin Rockfish (Sebastes variegatus) Fish Description

The Harlequin Rockfish is a small saltwater fish. It has 8 spines on top of its head. It has a pink to dark red color with black irregular blotches at the top; from its head to its caudal fin. It has large eyes for its body and it has 8 head spines and 2 to 3 anal spines. It has a horizontal band along its body. Its 2nd anal spine is always longer than the two which are in equal size. Its close relative is the equally small, Stripetail Rockfish.


Size and Diet 

The harlequin rockfish can grow up to  15 inches long, and on average they’re only 6 inches long. As of now, there is no study regarding the fish’s weight; both average and heaviest record. The harlequin rockfish diet is other benthic creatures such as shrimps, juvenile fish, and squid.


Interesting Facts About the Harlequin Rockfish

  • The harlequin rockfish is one of the recent rockfish discoveries in 1971. It’s also one of the species that lack observation and research.
  • They give birth viviparously; meaning they don’t lay eggs and instead give birth to live fry.
  • The harlequin rockfish has a low market value as food or game fish because of its size.
  • Like other rockfishes, the harlequin rockfish is demersal. They spend most of their time at the bottom of the ocean.
  • Despite its small size, this fish can live up to 47 years. They also grow slowly, it’s said to take 10 years for the harlequin rockfish to reach 10 inches.


How to Fish the Harlequin Rockfish

The harlequin rockfish is not a popular gamefish among anglers. It’s usually a by-catch of fish trawling. If you like to see these fish, the best method to catch them is through deep drop fishing with multi-rig. Look for rocky bottoms or crevices where they could be hiding. Just drop cast your presentation and pull it every time it hits the bottom to entice the fish. Wait for the bite.

The recommended equipment to catch a harlequin rockfish is a light-action rod of 6- to 7- feet in length. For your line, use a 10 to 30- pound test. You also need sinkers to get to a nice depth. A good weight for sinkers is around 16 to 30 ounces tear drop sinkers. For your multi-rig setup, you can use small hook sizes between #6 to #2.

The recommended lures are minnows, jigs, and shrimp-baits. The baits yo