Fast Facts: Rockfish

Parimal M. Rohit
Top 5 reasons to release rockfish to proper depth

1. Rockfish float on the water’s surface, diminishing its population
2. Certain species, such as yelloweye rockfish, take years to repopulate
3. High-grading (selectively harvesting best fish to come to shore) is illegal
4. Venting fish could be harmful
5. Descending a rockfish to proper depth increases its chances of survival.


Steps to return rockfish to recompression depth

With a milk crate (only in calm seas):
1. Tie a rope to a weighted milk crate
2. Place protective coating on crate’s edges
3. Drop rockfish onto water surface
4. Drop milk crate, open-side facing water, on top of rockfish
5. Lower the crate, with buoyant rockfish inside, to 60 feet depth
6. The rockfish should be able to fish out from the crate on its own

With inverted barbless hook and weight:
1. Hook fish through lower lip, from inside to outside
(Alternatively, hook through membrane on upper lip, from outside to inside)
2. Make sure weight is heavy enough to sink fish to proper depth
3. Sharply jerk the line, allowing the fish to be released

Rockfish Statistics 

2 minutes Time it takes a rockfish to be revived when returned to depths of 217 to 350 feet
83 percent Odds of rockfish survival if returned to depths of 217 to 350 feet
2x Risk of death doubles with every 10-minute interval a rockfish is out of water
3x Rockfish’s swim bladder triples in size near water’s surface
1.5 years How long a rockfish can survive if released at proper depth

Source: California Department of Fish and Wildlife

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