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.


  • Live in 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