Blue Rockfish, Sebastes mystinus: The Blue Rockfish has an oval body with no head spines. It is blue-black to gray-black in color with heavy mottling. A key to identification of the Blue Rockfish are the two to four dark bands that curve around the front of the head and a sloping band that extends from the eye toward the pectoral fin with a smaller band below.
The Blue Rockfish has a slightly projecting lower jaw that extends only to the mid-point of the eye, a forehead profile that is slightly convex, blackish fins, and the rear edge of the anal fin is straight and slanted. It is similar to and hard to differentiate from the Black Rockfish, Sebastes melanops, and the Dusky Rockfish, Sebastes ciliates, both of which have larger mouths. However, neither is found in Mexican waters.
This is a non-migratory fish species found between the surface and 300 feet deep in the water column and occasionally at depths of up to 1,800 feet. It is found in large schools that number in the thousands, mixed in with other rockfishes, in all parts of the water column. It is normally absent from tranquil waters and prefers shallow reef areas, around kelp, or over deep reefs.
The Blue Rockfish ranges from Alaska to Punta Santo Tomas, Baja California, Mexico. It is an aggressive feeder and can often be seen churning the surface water while hunting in packs. It has an enormous appetite, is a hard fighter and on light tackle makes an excellent sportfishing foe.
It can be caught will a wide variety of lures and all types of natural baits and averages 8 to 18 inches long and 2 to 4 pounds in weight, with the world record standing at 8 pounds 6 ounces.
Each female Blue Rockfish produces one brood per year laying on average 500,000 eggs. The juveniles (predation targets of fish, marine birds, and seals) are rock and bottom dwellers which, as they mature, move upwards in the water column. Young fish consume plankton and as they mature the diets change to crabs, squid, and fish. The Blue Rockfish has a life span of up to 24 years.
This fish species is a major recreational fish that makes up almost one third of the recreational catch in central coastal California. It is considered to be of good food. However, it does not store well. The Blue Rockfish is also fished commercially being a significant component of the live fish market. In certain areas it is significantly overfished generating a significant decline in its abundance.
The Blue Rockfish is a member of the Scorpionfish Family.