As their name suggests, the most distinctive feature of these rockfish are their yellow eyes. They also grow more yellow with age, shifting from a youthful red to middle-aged orange and pale yellow in old age. In fact, they can live up to 120 years. Despite their unique eyes, they are often marketed as Pacific Red Snapper, even though they are not related to the famed fish of the same name from the Gulf of Mexico.
Yelloweye are one of the largest rockfish in the north Pacific, weighing in at up to 24 lbs (11 kg). They live only in the northeast Pacific Ocean, ranging from the Aleutian Islands to Baja California. In Canada, there are two distinct populations: one lives in the “inside” waters between Vancouver Island and the Mainland, and the other in the “outside” waters on the island’s outer coast. Like most rockfish, their delicate fillets are lean, moist and tender with a mild sweet flavour.
Given how long they live, it is perhaps not surprising that Yelloweye do not reach maturity until they are around 20 years of age. At this time, mating begins which is generally believed to occur in November. Females can produce between 1.2 and 2.7 million eggs per year. After birth, young Yelloweye spend several months living in the open ocean before moving to the bottom areas where they live as juveniles and adults. Yelloweye have been found at depths from 100 to 760 feet (30 to 232 m), living solitary lives in hard-surface bottom areas such as broken rock, rock reefs, ridges, overhangs, crevices, caves, cobble, and boulder fields. As with Shortraker rockfish, the older the fish the deeper in the ocean they live.
This fishery uses a large cone-shaped net that is dragged along the seafloor to catch fish. As the net is towed at low speed, hydrodynamic forces push two "otter boards" outwards opening the mouth of the net and capturing fish in its path.