Abundant off the central and the southern coasts of California, the bocaccio is one of the most commercially important rockﬁsh in that region. It is also a well-known gameﬁsh in its range and a good eating ﬁsh, with soft and juicy white meat.
IdentificationAlthough its elongate and compressed body form is less bulky than that of most ﬁsh in the scorpionﬁsh family, the bocaccio has a large mouth. The upper jaw extends farther back than the eyes; the lower jaw extends past the upper one considerably. The ﬁrst dorsal ﬁn has spines and is deeply notched, and there are usually nine soft rays in the anal ﬁn.
Bocaccio are variably colored olive or brown on the back, reddish on the sides, and pink or white on the bellies. Young ﬁsh are generally light bronze, with speckling over the sides and the backs. As they mature, their color generally becomes darker and the speckling gradually disappears.
Size/AgeBocaccio can grow up to 3 feet and 21 pounds and can live for 30 years.
Life history/BehaviorBocaccio that are 1 or 2 years old travel in loose schools and move into shallow water, where they may be captured in quantity. With increasing age, they seek deeper water and move from near the surface to near the bottom. Adults are commonly found in waters of 250 to 750 feet over a somewhat irregular, hard, or rubble bottom. They are known to dwell in depths as great as 1,050 feet.
Females start maturing when they are 17 inches long. As with all rockﬁsh, fertilization is internal, and development of the embryos takes place within the ovaries of the female until the eggs are ready to hatch.