Alaskan rockfish is always regarded as a trophy fish, if not for the trophy value on the dinner table! Many people prefer it over delicacies such as halibut even. Yellow eye rockfish can be very old, sometimes living to be over 100 years old! Catching these Alaskan rockfish usually entails jigging just off of the bottom of the ocean and can be caught in as little as 50 feet to several hundred feet in depth.
Season: Yellow eye rockfish hang around their home structure all the year around. They are caught from the beginning of our season in May until the end of the season with no apparent high or low points. Yellow eye have a firm, delicious white meat, but conservation concerns regarding these long lived, slow growing fish make a strong case for not targeting them and avoiding fishing in areas that have high levels of yellow eye catch.
Size: Most of the yellow eye we catch range between 5 and 15 pounds. Occasionally yellow eyes approaching 25 pounds will be landed.
Techniques: Yellow eye fall prey to both bait and jigs that are fished nearly rocky structure. When halibut fishing, the yellow eye often move onto the scene first, followed by the big flatfish. Not to beat a dead horse, but the long term goal is to avoid them, not to catch them. Techniques for decreasing yellow eye mortality include fishing for halibut over flat bottoms with less rocky structure. Also, research is being conducted on deep water release methods for yellow eye.
Gear: Again, because these are non-target species, we don’t have special gear for them. Most are taken on halibut gear. Yellow eye have a closed air bladder and when they come up from depth their stomach and air bladder decompress and stick out their mouth like a balloon, making it impossible for the fish to return to the bottom. We are working on gear for deep water release to address this “baratrauma” problem.
Regulations: Non-resident anglers are allowed one yellow eye per day and one per season. This may seem overly restrictive, but these fish simply cannot take very much fishing pressure.
Species: Yellow eye, Shortraker, Rougheye, Banded, China, Copper, Quill-back, Silver-grey, Tiger, Canary
Range: Baja California to Aleutian Islands
Size: Typically 5 to 20 pounds, up to 40 pounds
World Record: 39 pounds, 1 ounce
Fishing Method: Primarily caught incidentally while halibut fishing