Deep below the ocean’s surface, a hook baited with a live sardine attracts the attention of a trio of bocaccio (Sebastes paucispinus). When the large fish grabs the bait, over 200 feet of line mechanically telegraphs the information about the action to the fisherman above. After the stillness of a long, patient wait, the strike is the most exiting moment in the whole process of fishing. The fleeting instant is filled with promise, but catching the fish is not guaranteed. Reacting too soon will pull the hook free before it is in the fish’s mouth. Reacting too late may provide the fish with a free dinner and the fisherman with a bare hook.
The bocaccio is a member of the rockfish family (Sebastidae) and is found along the Pacific coast of North America from Alaska south to Baja California. The young live in shallow water in the protective cover of kelp forests and other physical structure. As they get older, they move to deeper, colder water, usually between 150 to over 1000 feet. Adults consume other fish, squid, and crustaceans. The common name “bocaccio” refers to the fish’s large mouth (“boca” means “mouth” in Spanish). Because of is reddish brown color, fisherman frequently call this fish the “salmon grouper.”
Size: 36 x 24 inches (2005)
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