Rockfish, also referred to as rock cod and redfish, are reported to have been eaten by Indigenous Peoples of Southeastern Alaska, Strait of Georgia and the West Coast, the Tlingit, Coast Tsimshian, Bella Coola (Nuxalk), Kwakiutl (Kwakwaka'wakw), Nootka (Nuu-chah-nulth) of Vancouver Island, Makah, Mainland Comox and Southern Coast Salish are reported to have eaten rockfish [1-10]. The Indigenous Peoples of the Coast of British Columbia, Kwakiutl (Kwakwaka'wakw), Coastal British Columbia First Nations and Coast Salish are also reported to have eaten rockfish [11-16]. The Gitksan obtained rockfish through trade [17, 18]. Archeological remains identifying human use found rockfish from Oregon to Alaska .
Different cultures jigged rockfish with a hook and lure offshore, in rocky channels, and around coral and submerged ledges [16, 19-22]. The Kwakiutl caught rockfish with a hook and lure . Mainland Comox caught rockfish using jigs; the best fisherman possessed special songs, which they sang to them while jigging . The Nootka of Vancouver Island caught them offshore with u-shaped hooks . The Northern and Central Nootka jigged them with a straight-shanked hook fastened to a stone-weighted bait and connected to the leader using spruce root rope. Sometimes, they used halibut equipment which included an anchor or sinker made of a heavy stone with a kelp line used for cable, and baited hooks . The Southern Coast Salish caught rockfish year-round from canoes in salt water [4, 9]. Some of their best cod fishing locations were on Waldron Island and beside the Peavine Pass. These were public fishing areas, not private as an informant reasoned: “since there is no season for “cod” one could go there anytime he wished”. The Coast Salish knew where rockfish could be found by watching the pigeon guillemot, which they believed swooped when there was a school of rockfish.
The Coast Salish caught rockfish with a shuttlecock lure and a spear that had a fir shaft flanked by two unbarbed ironwood prongs [14, 16]. This lure was in the form of a shuttlecock in which its cedar head and body were attached with cherry bark to three vanes made of white wood. To work it, the fisher forced it in between the spear prongs and then yanked the spear away from it, causing it to spin to the top, luring the ling cod, which was then speared. This duo was used at low tide from a secured canoe or locations where rocks overhung kelp beds . Coast Salish also jigged rockfish using a jigging hook made of western yew with a bone barb attached to a rock sinker with the aid of a line made of stinging nettle fiber. In more recent times, the jig was made of lead so it did not require the extra weight of a sinker. When the fish took the hook, the fisherman yanked the line so that the hook was stuck in its throat, and he then proceeded to draw the line to the surface. They also caught rockfish using a hook baited with herring, meat or clams. When cod were plentiful and near the water surface, the Coast Salish speared rockfish with a two or three-pronged spear or simply scooped them by hand into a canoe. The two-pronged spear consisted of two ironwood or ocean spray prongs secured to a very long red cedar or Douglas fir pole with the aid of a wild cherry bark or stinging nettle cord and each prong had a single barb on the outside. The three-pronged spear was fastened to the pole in the same way as the two-pronged spear, but the prongs were barbless.
The Nootka used a hook and line, with kelpfish and perch as bait. The hook was a pointed-angled hook with a spruce root shank fastened to a barbless bone or hardwood point with the aid of nettle-fibre rope, the leader was made of nettle-fibre, and the main line was made of braided long kelp stem. An oval stone sinker was fastened where the line joined the leader, and a cod stomach float was fastened so that the hook floated at the proper depth. Usually, only a kelpfish “at the end of a line with no hook” was used, because the rockfish that swallowed it “would not easily let go” and was hauled up and clubbed or speared. They also lured rockfish with a shimmering stone attached to a line or with a live anchovy or herring tied to a line .
West Coast cultures observed various rituals when fishing for rockfish. When fishing for rockfish, Coast Salish never mentioned its name. Instead, it was referred to as “high class person” Also, every fisherman had individual songs which they sang while jigging for them. Before dropping the line, the fisherman calmed the water with his paddle, and told the fish that he was “opening the roof to the village”. According to their tradition, when the rockfish was human, he was an extremely proud man, but was later transformed to a fish and forced to live in the “village where there is no water”. However, the rockfish maintained his pride and even though he is seen “walking around the village with his chest protruded”, they believe he swims with his nose to the ocean floor, with his tail pointing up. As the fisherman dropped the line, he shouted “Hurry, hurry, walk fast!” If he caught a small rockfish, he released it, admonishing it to “Go back to the village and send his big brother”. It was reported to be forbidden to club a rockfish once it had been captured, or else other rockfish would “fail to take the jig” . Before going fishing for rockfish, Nootka believed they needed to wash themselves of the smells of “uncleanness” so the rockfish would not be offended . The Kwakiutl did not permit the guts to remain in the carcass overnight because they believed that if they did so they would never catch rockfish again .
Rockfish was a very prized, tasty saltwater fish that was eaten steamed, boiled, barbequed, fried, smoked and dried [14, 16, 17, 23-26]. The Kwakiutl ate the flesh immediately and they dried and smoked it for later consumption . The Tlingit ate rockfish fresh – they were reported not to have preserved them . The Kwakiutl and Coast Salish also ate the stomach, the latter also consuming the head and roe [17, 20].
Cultures of Southeast Alaska barbecued, boiled and fried the flesh for immediate consumption and considered it one of their best frying fishes. When boiling salted water, seal oil or ooligan oil and various herbs were used for flavouring, although in earlier times, a type of pungent wild onion was used. They never dried or smoked it, as it was slow to process .
The Coast Salish barbecued the flesh after cleaning it and the cleaning process was as follows: the head and tail were removed, followed by the backbone, which was removed by slitting the flesh along it. The head and tail were reserved to make soup including fish chowder, while the entrails were thrown into the sea. The flesh was barbecued using a split-pole rack that was laid over green cedar crosspieces, which at times were soaked in water to decrease the burning. The cross pieces needed to be green (i.e., immature) because mature cedar burns too readily. The ends of the pole were bound with cedar bark or nettle fibre to hold the yelloweye rockfish in place, and the rack was then angled over a fire. It was also barbecued whole on a large barbecue rack made from wood poles and sticks in the shape of a ladder made of ironwood and anchored over the ground at each corner with an X-shaped post. To make rockfish chowder, the head was added to soup along with any vegetables on hand. Dried seaweed was usually added to thicken and salt the soup . Another way in which the Coast Salish cleaned rockfish was to remove the skin by placing it close to a fire or by covering it with hot ashes and stripping the skin by hand, removing the dorsal fins, and the severed the head and stomach. The remaining carcass was filleted and sun-dried and the intestines were thrown away. The head and stomach were boiled, the stomach being boiled after it had been turned inside out and cleaned. The roe were placed into a pit close to a fire, and covered with hot ashes to cook . Coast Salish steamed rockfish if “there were lots to divide”, while for individual use, it was boiled. They also dried the flesh for winter use [14, 20].
The Kwakiutl boiled and roasted the flesh for immediate consumption, and smoked or dried it for later use, and the Nootka and Kwakiutl also dried it for later use [16, 17, 24, 26]. The latter ate the dried flesh in winter, dipping the edges in whale oil . The Kwakiutl used the boiled flesh of rockfish for feasts . To clean rockfish, the head attached to the backbone was cut off the rest of the carcass and the remaining carcass tied with cedar rope so that the flesh side was out and the scales inside. At the feast, after the first course of toasted dried salmon had been served and consumed, the uncooked rockfish carcasses were placed in baskets in kettles of boiling water in the middle of the house using tongs and cooked for a short time . The Kwakiutl ate boiled rockfish stomach turned inside out, and placed in boiling water in a kettle. When ready to serve, spoons were given to each guest, and they ate straight from the kettle with the pectoral fins and stock . The Kwakiutl also roasted rockfish, roasting the underside first, then right hand side, and the left hand side until blackened. Dried rockfish was eaten for breakfast when there was no dried salmon available .
The Coast Salish are reported to have not differentiated between three similar and closely related species of rockfish, the yelloweye rockfish, the canary rockfish and the tiger rockfish as they felt there were few significant differences between them 
Yelloweye rockfish were reported to have been eaten by the Kwakiutl (Kwakwaka'wakw), People of Port Simpson (Tsimshian), Nootka (Nuu-chah-nulth), Kyuquot, Coast Salish, Indigenous Peoples of Southeast Alaska, Tlingit, Gitksan (Gitxsan), and Nuxalk [1, 16-31]. The Nootka caught yelloweye rockfish in the fall and winter, while the Nuxalk caught them year round [19, 21, 29].
The Micmac (Mi'kmaq) of Richibucto and Newfoundland, Inuit of Makkovik and West Greenland are reported to have eaten ate golden redfish [12, 32-34].
West Greenland Inuit are reported to have eaten deepwater redfish . Labrador Inuit (including those of Makkovik) used a species referred to locally as rock cod, likely to be deepwater redfish, as an emergency food and as dog food .
The Kwakiutl (Kwakwaka'wakw) of British Columbia have been reported to have eaten roasted black rockfish, also known as black bass .
The Coast Salish are reported to have eaten canary rockfish, together with yelloweye rockfish and tiger rockfish .
Faunal remains found in the Prince Rupert Harbour area of northern British Columbia tentatively identified as copper rockfish, suggest that the Coast Tsimshian consumed them .
The Coast Salish are reported to have eaten tiger rockfish, together with yelloweye rockfish and canary rockfish .
The Coast Salish are reported to have eaten yellowtail rockfish .
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Rockfish are saltwater fish, part of the large scorpionfish family, and in North America, they are represented by one genus, with 60 species found along the North American Pacific coast. They include the yelloweye rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus), the canary rockfish (S. pinniger), the tiger rockfish (S. nigrocinctus), the yellowtail rockfish (S. flavidus), the black rockfish (S. melanops), the copper rockfish (S. caurinus), the deepwater redfish (S. mentella), and the golden redfish (S. norvegicus). Those species of rockfish are also related to the Pacific ocean perch (S. alutus), all being in the same genus.
Rockfish closely resemble species of bass with their heavy body, large mouth with an overhanging lower jaw and big lips, and their dorsal fin notched between spiny-rays in the front and soft-rays in the back. Rockfish all have fin spines that are slightly venomous and most are brightly coloured. They are most often found along the bottom, sometimes resting on their fins, where there is some cover, including reefs, rocks, or kelp beds .
The yelloweye rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Pacific coast, from Alaska to southern California. Yelloweye rockfish have spines on their head, a rounded tail, and a bright red to orange body colour with a pale lateral line. They can grow up to 1 m long and weigh around 18 kg. They are most often associated with offshore rocky reefs and feed mainly on crustaceans and other fish .
The golden redfish (Sebastes norvegicus) is a saltwater fish occurring along the eastern North American coast, from southeastern Labrador to the Gulf of Maine. They closely resemble the deepwater redfish (S. mentella). They are both pinkish coloured and are most often found in deep waters, up to over 1,000 m deep .
The deepwater redfish (Sebastes mentella) is a saltwater fish occurring along the eastern North American coast, from Baffin Bay to Nova Scotia. They closely resemble the golden redfish (S. norvegicus). They are both pinkish coloured and are most often found in deep waters, up to over 1,000 m deep .
The black rockfish (Sebastes melanops) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Pacific coast, from Alaska to southern California. They are grayish with darker blotches and lighter shades along the lateral line .
The canary rockfish (Sebastes pinniger) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Pacific coast, from Alaska to southern California. They are bright to yellowish orange with two dark orange bands on the cheeks and a white lateral line .
The copper rockfish (Sebastes caurinus) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Pacific coast, from Alaska to Mexico. They are pale coloured with coppery brown blotches, two darker bands on the cheeks, and a white lateral line on the rear two-third of the body .
The tiger rockfish (Sebastes nigrocinctus) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Pacific coast, from Alaska to central California. They are reddish orange with two black bands on the cheeks and five black vertical bars .
The yellowtail rockfish (Sebastes flavidus) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Pacific coast, from Alaska to central California. They are dull coloured with paler spots below the dorsal fin, two yellow bands on the cheeks, and yellowish fins .
1. Humann P: Coastal Fisf Identification: California to Alaska. Jacksonville, FL, USA: New World Publications, Inc.; 1996.
2. "Sebastes ruberrimus Cramer, 1895." [http://eol.org/pages/211625/details]
3. "Sebastes norvegicus Ascanius, 1772." [http://eol.org/pages/221837/details]
4. "Sebastes mentella Travin, 1951." [http://eol.org/pages/206798/details]
5. "Sebastes melanops Girard, 1856." [http://eol.org/pages/209605/details]
6. "Sebastes pinniger Gill, 1854." [http://eol.org/pages/211620/details]
7. "Sebastes caurinus Richardson, 1844." [http://eol.org/pages/209599/details]
8. "Sebastes nigrocinctus Ayres, 1859." [http://eol.org/pages/209610/details]
9. "Sebastes flavidus Ayres, 1862." [http://eol.org/pages/994489/details]