The body of the yellowtail rockfish is elongate and compressed. The head is rather long and the upper profile is steep and slightly curved. The lower jaw projects, but not beyond the upper profile of the head. The color is grayish brown above which shades to white below. The sides are finely spotted with yellow. The tail is yellow, while the other fins are dusky yellow. When the fish is fresh, reddish brown speckling is visible on some of the scales. As with many of the rockfish, identification can be somewhat difficult. Some of the distinguishing characteristics of the yellow tail rockfish include a convex (surface curves outward) space between the eyes, the absence of spines on top of the head, a projecting lower jaw, an anal fin with eight (rarely seven) soft rays and the lining of the belly is white.
The yellowtail rockfish occurs from San Diego, California, to Kodiak Island, Alaska; it is caught commercially off the coast of British Columbia, as well as being caught by recreational anglers off of central and northern California. It is regularly found over deep reefs from the surface to depths of 1,800 feet
Adult yellowtail rockfish feed on small hake, anchovies, lanternfishes, and other small fishes, as well as on small squid, and other shrimp-like organisms. These are all good baits to use for the yellowtail rockfish. A few yellowtail rockfish mature when 11 inches long or 3 years old. Fifty percent are mature when 13 inches long or 5 years old. They may live to be 24 years old. As with other rockfishes, fertilization is internal and live young are born. The number of developing eggs increases from 50,000 in a fish 12 inches long to about 633,000 in a fish 19 to 21 inches long.
When fishing for yellowtail rockfish in deeper waters, the typical rockfish rig and bait is appropriate (see bocaccio). Since this species occurs quite often at or near the surface, standard surface fishing techniques and baits such as anchovies or squid fished on a small hook are effective. Small silvery lures or small lead and rubber jigs also work well