Rock Sole


Lepidopsetta bilineata (South) and L. polyxystra (North)

ALSO KNOWN AS Sole, Flounder, Rock flounder

Rock sole is not true sole, which is found only in the Atlantic, but is more closely related to flounder. In general, sole and flounder are delicate, mild-tasting fish. Its meat tastes sweet and has small tender flakes and a medium texture. Like all flatfish, its fillets are thin. Rock sole is an excellent source of low-fat protein, calcium, and other important nutrients.

As rock sole is a flatfish, it has both eyes on one side of its head. The southern rock sole’s blind (non-eyed) side is white with glossy highlights. The northern rock sole’s blind side is creamy white, with no glossy highlights. Rock soles are sometimes called roughback because of the rough scales on their back. They are slow-growing fish and reach up to 2 feet long at full maturity. Its colouring and movement on the sea floor often confuses its predators, which includes sharks, marine mammals, and larger fishes.

There are two species of this fish found in the North Pacific Ocean. The northern species (Lepidopsetta polyxystra) is found from Puget Sound through the Bering Sea and Aleutian Island to the Kuril Islands (north of Japan). The southern species (L. bilineata) is found from the southeast Bering Sea to Baja California.

Almost all of the commercial harvest of rock sole comes from Alaska. Fishermen primarily use bottom trawls (a cone-shaped net towed across the bottom) to harvest rock sole from their sandy and muddy habitats. Around 70% of the harvest is caught in February and March when females are bearing eggs, as rock sole roe is highly valued in Asian markets.

Coldfish’s rock sole is available for purchase whole or filleted.