Ocean Whitefish – Caulolatilus princeps.

Identifying Characteristics and Biology

  • Elongated fish with a small mouth.
  • Long, fairly even, continuous dorsal fin that is unnotched.
  • Long anal fin with two spines at the front.
  • Coloring is brown on top and the sides fading to pale cream on the belly. Fins brightly colored with yellow or green streaks.
  • Ocean whitefish can grow to 40 inches in length.
  • Females mature at about 3 years (16 inches) and males mature at about 4 years (19 inches). Females and males grow at the same rate.
  • Their diet is invertabrates and other small fish.

Range and Habitat

  • Ocean whitefish is found from central California to the Gulf of California.
  • They enjoy shallow reefs and the ocean bottom, from the subtidal zone to about 400 feet out.

Market Forms

  • Great sport fish.
  • Excellent eating fish.

Black and white image and drawing of ocean whitefish above courtesy California Department Fish and Game. Color picture of ocean whitefish by John Shelton.



John Shelton, the Fishing Chef, will help you get ‘that’ fish onto ‘your’ plate. John’s motto is ‘release it unharmed or do it justice on the plate.’ Executive Chef, photographer, and surfer, John photographs ocean marine life when he's out fishing, and creates masterpieces in the kitchen with what he keeps on deck. His photo works have been used in OEHHA Fish Advisories, National Geographic presentations, and nonprofit marine life groups. When he's not fishing, he's making great BBQ. Visit him at johnsheltondesigns.com, and send him a message using the contact form using the link above.