Image and information California Department of Fish & Game
Fishing Quote: Two fishermen travel 100 miles to try out a new fishing spot. They buy a variety of bait and lures and rent a boat. After a long day of fishing, the two fishermen return to the dock. The first fisherman pulls their only catch from the live well, a scrawny bass just legal size. He says, "Boy! This fish cost us about $75." The second fisherman says, "Well it's a good thing we didn't catch any more."
Family: Girellidae (Nibblers)
Genus and Species: Girella nigricans
Description: The body of the opaleye is oval and compressed. The snout is thick with an evenly rounded profile. The mouth is small. The color is dark olive green, and most have one or two white spots on each side of the back under the middle of the dorsal fin. The opaleye is California's only representative of the nibbler family. Bright blue eyes and the heavy, olive green, perch-like body quickly distinguish it from any other species.
Range: Opaleye occur from Cape San Lucas, Baja California, to San Francisco, California. Opaleyes are residents of rocky shorelines and kelp beds. Young ones, 1 or more inches long, live in tide pools, but they seek deeper water as they grow larger. The largest concentrations of opaleye are in 65 feet of water.
Natural History: Opaleye primarily eat marine algae with or without encrustations of organisms. Food items include feather boa kelp, giant kelp, sea lettuce, coralline algae, small tube dwelling worms, and red crabs. Ripe adults have been taken in April, May and June. They form dense schools in shallower water where spawning takes place. The eggs and larvae are free floating and at times are found a number of miles from shore. The juveniles form schools of up to two dozen individuals. When about 1 inch long they enter tidepools. As they grow they seek deeper and deeper water. They mature and spawn when about 8 or 9 inches long at an age of about 2 or 3 years.
Fishing Information: Few fish are harder to hook than the opaleye and few fish will put up more fight pound-for-pound. Long considered one of the better sport fish, they take mussels, sand crabs, pieces of fish or invertebrates on a hook. Since opaleye are primarily vegetarians, some anglers find it easier to catch them using various "mosses" for bait.
Other Common Names: green perch, black perch, blue-eyed perch, bluefish, Jack Benny, button-back.
Largest Recorded: 25.5 inches; 13.5 pounds.
Habitat: Shallow Rocky Environment