A 4.86-pound silvergray rockfish caught late last month off the Washington coast by an Edmonds angler established the state record for the species.
The 22-inch fish was caught by William Waltke while fishing for halibut in 700 feet of water off of Westport on June 30 with All Rivers and Saltwaters Charters, full disclosure, a Northwest Sportsman advertiser.
In a Facebook comment on WDFW’s post on the new record, Waltke said he is “very aware that they get much bigger than this, I thought it would be fun to go through the process, get a certificate and hopefully challenge someone else to beat it.”
Washington’s coastal waters are home to a plethora of rockfish species, but silvergrays are a rare catch.
WDFW spokesman Chase Gunnell said it took state fishery biologists a couple weeks to confirm what it was, as the species can sometimes be confused for boccacio rockfish, but the record is now official.
The species actually has quite an expansive range, from the Gulf of Alaska to Baja California, and are typically found in waters 330 to 990 feet deep, according to Gunnell.
Silvergray rockfish weren’t listed in WDFW’s 2020 Washington State Catch Record Report but are presumably lumped amongst fellow Sebastes subspecies in the “Other Rockfish” category, of which 113 were reported caught, all out of Ilwaco.
Washington Coast rockfish catches are dominated by black rocks and in 2020 a total of 104,540 were reported landed, mostly at Westport, followed by yellowtail rockfish (46,762), canary rockfish (5,797) and blue rockfish (1,432). Catches that year were affected by a six-week pause in fishing and hunting seasons due to the pandemic that also restricted access to tribal marinas at La Push and Neah Bay.
Waltke’s fish was weighed on a certified scale at the Mill Creek QFC, near WDFW’s local office, according to Gunnell.
“It would be interesting to hear from coastal creel samplers or charters how often they see these,” he said. “Many charters and private anglers have increasingly dialed in catching boccacio and sablefish in recent years when depth restrictions allow, so it wouldn’t surprise me if other deepwater species are showing up more frequently.”
Correction, 12 p.m., July 29, 2022: The depth of water the record silvergray rockfish was caught over was initially reported as 200 feet by WDFW but according to angler William Waltke he was in 700 feet of water. “My handwriting isnt the best lol,” Waltke posted on WDFW’s Facebook page.