Sea Raven
Typical Size
8-11" (1/4-3/4 lbs.)
Decent Size
12-14" (1-2 lbs.)
Nice Size
15-18" (2-5 lb.)
25.2" (7 lbs. 1 oz.)
Awards Program
Qualifying Size

Genus/Species Hemitripterus americanus
Common Names raven, red sculpin, sea sculpin, scorpion fish
Hot Spots Stellwagen Bank, Georges Bank, Stone Ledge
Best Time Year Round
Best Baits clam, shrimp, herring
Best Method Bottom fishing with bait

The biggest and ugliest sculpin you can catch in our waters is the sea raven. Easily distinguished from the other sculpins by it's ragged fins and fleshy tabs hanging from it's chin. Sea ravens vary in color quite a bit depending upon the surroundings they are caught from but generally are reddish brown with numerous darker blotches. The underbelly is soft and a pale yellow-brown in color. The upper portion is rough like sandpaper. Like other sculpins, the sea raven has an enormous head and mouth for it's general size but is more stout all around than other sculpins. Pectoral fins are short and fan like similar to the other sculpins. When caught, sea ravens fill themselves with air and water like a puffer fish - obviously a protection instinct.

Sea Raven
Sea Raven occur more frequently in deeper offshore waters
Sea Raven are most pletiful in our backyard - from Massachusetts Bay north and eastward to the Grand Banks. However, a few individuals have been caught as far north as Labrador in Canada and as far south as Chesapeak Bay. They prefer rocky areas and heavy structure locations. Mostly an offshore fish, sea ravens are common in waters of 200-300 feet but can be caught in waters as shallow as 50 feet to as deep as 500 feet. They do not tolerate warm water, with the upper range being around 55 degrees and they can handle water temperatures at the 32 degree point quite well. A voracious feeders, sea ravens can consume fish nearly as large as they are. Their diet is varied and consists of just about anything that crosses their path that is larger than them. Crabs, lobsters, clams, fish, squid, shrimp, sea urchins, sand dollars, and starfish all are considered dinner to sea ravens.

Sea Raven can be found both inshore and offshore, depending upon water temperature and food availability, but don't really appear anywhere in great numbers as they are considered a solitary, versus schooling, fish.

Spawning takes place offshore in the fall with the eggs staying on the bottom and not hatching until spring. One mature female sea raven lays about 10,000 eggs in separate clusters of approximately 300 each. Many of these eggs are eaten by bottom-feeding fish, even including other sea ravens.

No one specifically targets sea raven when they go fishing. They are considered "by-catch" when targeting species like cod or haddock. If you do catch one, you will notice that, because they fill up with so much air and water when caught, upon release they tend to float belly up drifting helplessly and at the mercy of sea gulls and other predators. Although edible, no one I know has ever eaten sea raven. On rod and reel, they give little resistence, feeling like extra weight on your line. Hooks and baits of all shapes and sizes will successfully catch sea raven and they can be caught on the most simple of rigging.

Sea Raven are not known to take artificial lures, although I can imagine that it is possible to entice a few with small jigs and shrimp teasers. The only sea raven I've seen taken on artificial lures are "foul hooked,"and incidental to fishing for other species such as cod.

Fishing for sea raven is neither important commercially, nor recreationally, mainly due to their small size, general ugliness, and high the high preparation it would take to get any meat from them. Nonetheless, those caught in the nets of commerial fishermen are often cast aside and used for lobster bait.