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Sheepshead: Archosargus probatocephalus

Appearance:

  • Basic silvery color with 5 or 6 distinct vertical black bars on the sides; bars are not always the same on both sides
  • Prominent teeth, including incisors, molars and rounded grinders
  • No barbels on the lower jaw
  • Strong and sharp spines on the dorsal and anal fins

Habitat:

Sheepshead are an inshore species and are commonly found around oyster bars, seawalls and in tidal creeks.  They move nearshore during late winter and early spring for spawning. 

Behavior:

Sheepshead are fractional spawners (they only lay a portion of their eggs at a time) in inshore waters, typically in March and April. They are omnivorous feeding mostly on crustaceans and small fish.

State Record:

15 lb 2 oz, caught near Homosassa

Fishing Tips and Facts:

Use live shrimp, sand fleas or fiddler crabs on a small hook fished on the bottom. When cleaning, beware of the sharp gill covers.

Additional Information:

Sheepshead are an important commercial species.


Image Credit: Diane Rome Peebles



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