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Saltwater Fish Identification

Pacific Cod

Brown to grey body with lighter mottling. Three fins on back and a large “whisker” under lower jaw. Also called true cod and grey cod.

Pacific Hake

Body dark or silver grey becoming silvery below. Two fins on back, the second being deeply notched. Black inside mouth. Large mouth with sharp teeth. Also called whiting.


Body olive green to grey with lighter mottling. Two fins on back. Skin flap between nostrils. Small teeth.

Walleye Pollock

Body brown with mottling, usually with several stripes along the body. Three fins on back. The “whisker” under lower jaw is absent or very small. Large eye with small pupil.

Longfin Smelt

Silvery fish 4-5 inches in length. Long pectoral fins.

Eulachon (Columbia River smelt)

Size: up to 12"

Color: bluish on upper half with silvery white sides and belly.

Look for: grooves on gill cover, skinny head, speckled tail.

Surf Smelt

Size: up to 10"

Color: silver with a stripe along the side.

Look for: small adipose fin and stripe on the side.


Body dark brown, grey or green with mottling on sides. A single long fin on back with only one notch. Large mouth with large teeth. Can reach 5' in length.

Dogfish Shark

Dark brown upper body with white belly, white spots sometimes on upper body. Single prominent spines in front of each dorsal fin. Lacks an anal fin.

Pile Perch

Size: up to 17"

Color: dusky to silvery gray, with dark bar in middle of body.

Look for: deeply forked tail and dark spot on gill cover.

Rock Sole

Size: up to 23"

Color: white on one side; top of body brown to green, small mouth.

Look for: right-eyed fish, lateral line arches above the pectoral fin.


Size: up to 16"

Color: one side is off-white; other side is brown with mottling.

Look for: left-eyed fish, squared caudal fin.

Striped Perch

Size: up to 15"

Color: blue and yellow stripes on side of body.

Look for: bright color pattern.

Pacific Herring

Size: up to 10"

Color: silver with dark blue-green back.

Look for: deeply forked tail and lack of adipose fin.

Shiner Perch

Size: up to 8"

Color: greenish back with silvery sides.

Look for: forked tail and 3 broad yellow vertical bars.

Kelp Greenling (female)

Size: up to 21"

Color: small, reddish-brown to golden spots on a gray to brown body.

Look for: yellowish orange fins.

Kelp Greenling (male)

Size: up to 21"

Color: gray to brownish-olive, with irregular blue spots on the front half of their bodies

Look for: eyelike spot at the end of the soft dorsal fin, just in front of the tail.


Size: up to 6'

Color: white on one side; brown-gray on the other.

Look for: large mouth and eyes on right side of body. Three points on tail.

Coastal Cutthroat Trout - catch-and-release ONLY in all marine waters.

Body color is variable. Numerous closely grouped spots on dorsal fin and tail. The maxillary (upper jaw bone) usually extends beyond the back of the eye. May have a red or orange slash on the underside of the jaw.

Sixgill Shark

Size: up to 15'

Color: dark brown or gray.

Look for: one fin on back situated towards tail. Six gill slits on each side of head.

NOTE: Sixgill Shark may not be removed from the water.