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Shortraker Rockfish | Alaska Deep Sea Fishing

Updated: Mar 3, 2020

The shortraker rockfish is the largest of all rockfish species found in Alaska, with the world sportfishing record coming in at a whopping 44.1 pounds (Cross Sound, 2017). A deep bottom dwelling rockfish (categorized as non-pelagic), the shortraker rockfish is most commonly caught in depths of 800-1200 feet of water on steeply sloped rocky areas. The average lifespan is thought to be about 120 years, making the shortraker rockfish one of the world's oldest living fish. Due to such extreme depths, targeting this fish has been difficult. With the use of electric reels, we have now made it possible to catch shortraker rockfish sportfishing in Sitka, Alaska!

shortraker rockfish caught in Sitka, Alaska at Cascade Creek Inn & Charters

Alaska Deep Sea Fishing - Shortraker Rockfish

  • Binomial name: Sebastes borealis

  • Size: Average 20-25 pounds, up to 40 pounds

  • Alaska sport fishing record: 44.1 pounds (Cross Sound, 2017)

  • Season: All summer

  • Depths: 700-1500 feet (most abundant in 900-1300 ft)

  • Long lived species: up to 157 years old

  • Diet: lanternfishes, squid, octopi, shrimp, crab, krill

  • Identification: stubby gill rakers (tipped with little nobs), black blotches on fins and mouth

  • Look-a-likes: yelloweye rockfish, rougheye rockfish

  • Sportfishing limit: 1 per person per day (no annual limit)

shortraker rockfish caught in Sitka Alaska

Sitka's Outer Coast Location

Sitka's location on the outer coast of the Alaska Panhandle makes it possible for us to get out to the depths needed to target shortraker rockfish and black cod. From the dock, we are about a 60 - 90 minute boat ride (depending on the ocean conditions) out to 700 feet of water.

Wind & Ocean Conditions

Ocean conditions determine if we are able to go out and fish for shortraker rockfish. We need relatively calm seas and light winds to go on the drift and search for these deep water fish.

Electric Reels are a Game Changer

Shortraker rockfish is a deep water fish. Adding electric reels to each of our boats this off season was a game changer. We now have the ability to go out and find them, with depth not being a factor.

Using the same gear and tackle as we would for halibut and black cod fishing, we head out deeper on the slope of the continental shelf.

shortraker rockfish caught while deep sea fishing in Alaska

Deep Sea Drifting

When we go out and fish past 800 feet of water, we are typically always drifting. We typically keep one of the outboards on and back down on the drift as needed to keep our lines from scoping too far behind the boat. Also, we use heavier lead weights (3 or 4 lbs) to help get our baits down quicker and to decrease the scope in the line.

Another fishing style we utilize while fishing out deep is using a sea anchor. Utilizing the sea anchor helps slow down the boat's drift and keeps our lines relatively straight up and down.

big shortraker rockfish caught in Sitka Alaska at Cascade Creek Inn & Charters

Pretty Tasty

Most of the hype on a shortraker rockfish comes from its pure size and bright orange color. But don't let that fool you, this fish tastes pretty great. A white flaky meat with a mild & sweet flavor, the shortraker rockfish makes excellent fish tacos.

Interested? Catch yourself a shortraker rockfish by booking a fishing adventure with us in Sitka, Alaska.

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