Family Sparidae, PORGIES
Archosargus probatocephalus






7. Sheepshead: Usually taken around the tips of the two jetties by those using fiddler crabs or shrimp. Daily limit is 15 and minimum size limit is 12 inches. Caught year-round.

Description: basic silvery color; with 5 or 6 distinct vertical black bands on sides, not always the same on both sides; prominent teeth, including incisors, molars, and rounded grinders; no barbels on lower jaw; strong and sharp spines on dorsal and anal fins.

Similar Fish: black drum, Pogonias cromis; Atlantic spadefish, Chaetodipterus (black drum have barbels on lower jaw, sheepshead do not; vertical barring on sides of black drum and spadefish disappear as fish mature; spadefish have small, brush-like teeth).

Where found: INSHORE species around oyster bars, seawalls and in tidal creeks; moves NEARSHORE in late winter and early spring for spawning, gathering over debris, artificial reefs and around navigation markers.

Size: INSHORE, 1 to 2 pounds; OFFSHORE, common to 8 pounds.

Florida Record: 12 lbs., 2 ozs.

Remarks: feeds on mollusks and crustaceans such as fiddler crabs and barnacles; famed nibblers, prompting the saying that "anglers must strike just before they bite."

Food: The sheepshead is great for eating. Because of its crustacean diet, its flesh is nice and sweet. It is best if filleted and panfried