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Basics on Catching Rockfish in Alaskan Saltwater

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For those who love fishing for the various different fish species that can be caught, a location like Alaska is highly desirable. This is because there are numerous species of quality fish found in this beautiful state, from common options like salmon and halibut to others, including a group of fish known broadly as the rockfish.

At Pybus Point Lodge, our guided saltwater fishing tours provide our clients with access to a wide variety of Alaska's most interesting fish, including halibut, cod, multiple species of salmon and, yes, the rockfish. What exactly are rockfish, what are their different types, and what are some tackle options and common techniques used to catch them? Here's a basic primer.

Rockfish Basics

The rockfish is a family of near-shore fish found across the North American west coast, including in Alaska. Also called the Pacific rockfish or Pacific snapper, this fish gets its name from the rocky reefs, kelp beds and other underwater structures where they like to hang out.

Rockfish are considered bottom-dwellers, often found in rocky areas near the shoreline where they can find protection from the waves and predators. They are a versatile fish, with a wide range of sizes and colors (including red, orange, yellow, green, blue and black), making them popular with sport fishermen.

Types of Rockfish

In total, there are over 70 different specific types of rockfish -- however, only about a third of these species are regularly fished for. The most common type is the black rockfish, also known as the black bass, which is often caught by sport fishermen in the Puget Sound. Other common types include yellowtail rockfish, canary or yellowfin rockfish and copper or blue rockfish.

Rockfish come in a huge range of colors, and this is due to their skin's light absorption properties. In deeper water, rockfish will often be a lighter color (except for the black bass) while those caught near the surface will often be darker in color.

Rockfish Flavor

For those who fish for their meals regularly, the rockfish is a desirable catch. Multiple different rockfish types are known for their exquisite taste, especially when cooked, and they are often considered some of the best-tasting fish to be had. Their flesh is firm and flaky, with a mild flavor that is versatile enough to go well with almost any type of cooking preparation.

There are several methods often used for cooking rockfish, including baking, steaming and even grilling. For those who don't enjoy the especially "fishy" flavor in some fish, the rockfish offers a mild and pleasant taste that is a step up from some of the more common types of fish.

Do They Fight?

Another common question from anglers for any fish they'll be casting lines out for: How much, if at all, does the species typically fight once it's caught on the hook?

For rockfish, the answer is very little. They may surge a few times, but generally these fish are considered "weak fighters" when compared to others. There are certain specific rockfish types, such as the Pelagic Rockfish, that may put up more of a fight than other types, but generally this is not one of the most physically demanding fish to catch.

Tackle Selection

In most cases, spinning or conventional tackle works optimally for catching and landing rockfish and other types of fish (i.e., those that tend to put up little fight). The gear is affordable and easy to use, making it a popular choice for most sport fishermen. Rockfish will generally run at least three pounds in weight, depending on the type and area where they are caught, so be sure to have at least 10-pound test line on your reel.

If you're targeting rockfish in deep water or in a heavy current, you will need to use significant weight and perhaps heavier gear. Braided line will often be used in these settings, as it is more durable and can handle greater drag without breaking.

Rockfish are considered one of the most user-friendly fish to go after, making them the perfect type of fish for beginner sport fishermen or children who would like to get into fishing. Shorter rods also work well for them, since the fish is often near the bottom.

Rockfish Lures

If you're in deeper water or heavy currents, you'll want a rockfish lure that drops straight down. If you're in shallower water, on the other hand, you can consider options that have a little action.

Plastic lures are often the most popular choice for rockfish, as they mimic the look and feel of bait that these fish are used to feeding on. Some of the more common colors include chartreuse, orange, red and white. In addition, rockfish are known to often bite onto octopus-type lures that are slowly rotated up and down after being dropped to the bottom of the water.

Rockfish Techniques

Both bait and lure techniques can be used for rockfish in Alaska -- again, this is not one of the most difficult fish to catch. If you're targeting rockfish in areas of rocky terrain, simply dropping down a hook and line can be effective enough.

However, lures are often considered more effective for the fish, since the fish will actually bite onto them and hold on longer than they would with live bait (which is easily spit out). The best overall technique for catching rockfish is to slowly troll the lure through the water column until you find a spot where fish are congregating.

For more on rockfish in Alaska and how to catch them, or to learn about any of our saltwater all-inclusive fishing or wildlife tours, speak to the team at Pybus Point Lodge today.

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Alaska is one of the top dream destinations for anglers around the world, and it’s no surprise why! Our waters are home to a wide variety of fish species that are good to eat and a blast to catch.




Discover why people like you can’t stop talking about Pybus Point Lodge. More than 30 years ago, the lodge opened as a simple fishing camp, drawing a devoted following in spite of basic accommodations. With new owners and experienced captains and crew, our corner of Alaska has become an unbeatable fishing and eco-tourism resort.

Andrea Tate

Incredible Experience!

Pybus Point Lodge has some of the most stunning scenery I’ve ever seen. I mean absolutely breathtaking! In addition to the amazing fishing, I hiked to a beautiful secluded lake, soaked in some hot pots, saw several waterfalls, went whale watching, saw bears and all kinds of wildlife and marine life. As a photographer, photographing a wedding under a waterfall will remain a highlight of my life.

Shirley Johnson

Pybus Point Lodge - WOW!

We had the best time! This was our first visit to Pybus, but it definitely will not be our last. The stunning scenery, amazing fishing experience, and the joy of meeting new friends – all outstanding! We did not want to leave!!! If you are thinking about this trip – don’t think any more, just book it. You will not regret it!!!

Sharon Hedding

Trip of a Lifetime!

We had such an amazing time the staff was so wonderful and the lodge was fantastic! capt Joe was so helpful and always doing what ever he could do to make each day special. a special thank you to both Scott and Jody for taking the time to make us feel like family. can't wait to go back next year

Jason Nielsen

Wonderful and Magical Place

We had an amazing business retreat to Pybus Point Lodge.  Everything was top notch... the fishing, the staff, the boat captains, the food, the accommodations, and especially the scenery. I really liked that Pybus took care of everything from start to finish. Chef John is an amazing cook. We had delicious hot meals the entire trip.  The cabins were amazing and very comfortable.  The fishing was awesome and that’s coming from a guy that doesn’t fish that much.

Brandon Foote

We brought home 100lbs of fish!

My wife and I spent a week at Pybus Point this Summer. We had a beautiful, private room overlooking the bay and our own new, ensuite, private bathroom. What an amazing place for couples to get away together. We set our own breakfast time, met our boat captain after, fished the day along, and returned to clean up and enjoy a nice dinner at the restaurant. Next time Alaska is on the trip list, Sherrie and I will go together, and it will be to Pybus Point!

Kent Danjanovich

Fun in Alaska

This was my first trip to Pybus Point. I stayed in one of their new cabins. The accommodations were incredible, the view onto the bay in the mornings was stunning. I loved the staff and the food was really very good. All of this and they have new boats to take you out onto fairly calm waters to fish. The fishing guides were great. Overall a great experience. Definitely going back.


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