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Archosargus probatocephalus


Illustration of a sheepshead showing important characteristics

Also known as convict fish.

  • Body has lightly colored background with vertical black bars on sides
  • Prominent teeth, including incisors, molars and rounded grinders
  • No barbels on lower jaw
  • Dorsal and anal fins with strong, sharp spines

Similar Species: Black drum, P. cromis (has chin barbels and lacks incisor-like teeth); and Atlantic spadefish, C. faber (lacks incisor-like teeth)

Size: Up to 36 inches; common to 13 inches 


Coastal waters near structure such as oyster bars, seawalls and in tidal creeks. They move nearshore during late winter and early spring for spawning.



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.

Additional Information

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.

Recreational Regulations


Image Credit: © Diane Rome Peebles