It is a scaleless fish, with a broad bony support extending from the eye across the cheek just under the skin. Normally it has 11 spines on the dorsal fin. The cabezone also has a stout spine before the eye, an anal fin of soft rays, and a fleshy flap on the middle of the snout. A pair of longer flaps are just back of the eyes. The mouth is broad with many small teeth it has large pale areas on the body. The coloring varies, is mottled with browns, greens and reds. >90% of red fish are males, whereas >90% of green fish are females It reaches a weight of up to 25 pounds. As the Spanish-origin name implies, the fish has a very large head relative to its body.
It feeds on crustaceans, fishes and fish eggs. The cabezone is considered important as a game fish in Central California waters. An excellent food fish, it is taken irregulary throughout the year by using cut bait and jigs for bait. Cabezone inhabit the tops of rocky ledges as opposed to rockfish and lingcod, which usually inhabit the sheer faces of these features.