I am most grateful to eminent fish experts Willy Bemis and J.B. Heiser, current and past Directors of the Shoals Marine Laboratory respectively, for helping with this identification. While the head-on posing of our mystery fish was ideal in an artistic/compositional sense, it was sub-optimal for making the i.d. Despite this, Drs. Bemis and Heiser both concur that the fish Kristin found is a redfish, specifically Sebastes marinus, known colloquially as an ocean perch. You can check out details of the skull structure in this group of fish, and also read more about any fish of interest at FishBase, which is a cool reference provided to me by Willy.
One feature even a fish neophyte like me can appreciate in Sebastes marinus is the presence of numerous spikes on the operculum (the shield like structure over the gills behind and below the eye). I can persuade myself that these spikes are actually partially visible in the head-on shot provided by Kristin.
In any case, I’m lucky to have contacts at Shoals Marine Lab, including Christine Bogdanowicz, who facilitated the communication on this fishy query. Also, an additional plug: anyone can visit, volunteer, or take courses at Shoals, and the season will be fast upon us! Now is the time to check out their offerings, and with any luck, I’ll see some of you out there this Summer!