Species: Yelloweye, Copper, China, Tiger, Quillback
Range: Baja California to Aluetian Islands
Size: Typcially 5 to 20 pounds, up to 40 pounds
Fishing Method: Primarily caught incidentally while halibut fishing
What to expect in Sitka:
Season: Yelloweye 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. Yelloweye 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 yelloweye catch.
Size: Most of the yelloweye we catch range between 5 and 15 pounds. Occasionally yelloweyes approaching 25 pounds will be landed.
Techniques: Yelloweye fall prey to both bait and jigs that are fished nearly rocky structure. When halibut fishing, the yelloweye 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 yelloweye mortality include fishing for halibut over flat bottoms with less rocky structure. Also, research is being conducted on deep water release methods for yelloweye.
Gear: Again, because these are non-target species, we don’t have special gear for them. Most are taken on halibut gear. Yelloweye have a closed air bladder and when they come up from depth their stomach and airbladder decompress and stick out their mouth like a baloon, making it impossible for the fish to return to the bottom. We are working on gear for deepwater release to address this “baratrauma” problem.
Regulations: Non-resident anglers are not allowed to retain yelloweye. This may seem overly restrictive, but these fish simply cannot take very much fishing pressure.