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!
Alaska Deep Sea Fishing - Shortraker Rockfish
Binomial name: Sebastes borealis
Size: Average 20-25 pounds, up to 40 pounds
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)
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.
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.
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.