Grass Rockfish

Species: Sebastes rastrelliger; from the Greek words sebastes (magnificent) and rastrelliger (a rake, in reference to the stubby gill rakers).

Alternate Names: Rock cod, scomoda, grass bass, and, in the north, kelp bass.

Identification: Typical bass shape with green above and lighter green and brown below. Although often mistaken for kelp rockfish, they are easily differentiated during cleaning -- the grass rockfish has very short gill rakers on its first gill arch. The gill rakers are generally as wide as they are long.

Size: Length to 22 inches; generally between 8 and 16 inches for those caught from piers.

Range: Playa Maria Bay, Baja California, to Yaquina Bay, Oregon.

Habitat: Shallow-water rocky areas.

Piers: Grass rockfish are one of the most common shallow-water rockfish in California. However, most taken from piers are taken north of Santa Barbara. Needed ingredients are a rocky bottom or substantial kelp. Juveniles are often taken in very shallow areas around piers in bays during the summer. Best bets: San Francisco Municipal Pier, Berkeley Pier and Citizen's Dock (Crescent City). Larger adult fish are most common at Gaviota Pier, Santa Cruz Wharf, Point Arena Pier (perhaps the best) and the Eureka Municipal Wharf.

Bait and Tackle: Medium to light gear is sufficient for these fish. A high/low leader equipped with size 4 or 2 hooks is common tackle. Fish on or near the bottom and be prepared for a strike at any time. Best baits appear to be shrimp, mussel, pile worms or tube worms.

Food Value: An excellent eating, mild-flavored fish that is best fried.

Comments: Grass rockfish are fairly common around Point Arena Pier from June until October; fish inshore or cast straight out on the left side of the pier to the nearby reefs.