How to Catch Rockfish

How to Catch Rockfish
Head out for a day of fishing and try your hand at a fresh rockfish catch. Though there are some 60 different kinds of rockfish, the most popular are typically brown, grass, black and blue. Consider the weather conditions, water current and the type of bait you'll be using on your day on the water. Keeping the bait active and exercising patience will also increase your odds of return.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Fishing pole
  • Tackle
  • Cool weathers
Step 1
Determine the best time to catch rockfish. Colder months typically draw more rockfish, though they can be found year-round. A slower current will allow fish to hover more easily and go hunting for bait. Consistently cool waters like the San Francisco Bay are good spots for rockfishing. If possible, head out on a cool morning after a cold snap with a slow current.
Step 2
Choose your bait carefully. Rockfish tend to bite for crabs, sardines, shrimps, anchovies and small crustaceans. In a pinch, try fresh pile worms on your hook.
Step 3
Add swimbaits to your line to enhance the likelihood of a catch. Lures will also work, but are more costly and are likely to get lost on the bay floor.
Step 4
Keep your bait moving at all times to keep crabs from nibbling at your line. Cast your line out about 20 to 30 feet and reel it in slowly.
Step 5
Stay attentive to nibbles when you're reeling the line in. Remember that rockfish like to attack bait and usually strike and retreat. Keep your line taught and be prepared for a quick ambush.
Step 6
Remain patient. Rockfish hover, attack and retreat so lines can get tangled and snagged easily. Gently pull on the line to see if the fish is still on the line. If it's tangled itself in a reef or rock, plant your pole in the ground and take a short break. Usually the rockfish will resurface to untangle itself, but it could take a half hour or more. If you can't wait any longer, cut your line and start again.

Tips & Warnings

Try different tackle and swimbaits and experiment with what works best for your personal fishing techniques.

Keep Me Informed

Weekly newsletters, announcements and offers from to your inbox.

Sign me up!

We HATE spam and promise to keep your email addresses safe and secure.