Field Guide: Sheepshead

Type: sheepshead


What is it

If you’re not the type to judge a book by its cover, then Sheepshead ought to win you over. Its black and silver stripes earned this fish the nickname “the convict,” but it’s the mouthful of flattened, human-esque teeth that gave the Sheepshead its true namesake. A typical keeper runs about three to five pounds, and you’ll enjoy every last bite of the pure white filets.

When to get it

Because they arrive in November and last throughout the winter, Sheepshead season is a blessing for the pros who don’t find many regular catches during the cold months. The peak comes in March when these fish return to the ocean for offshore spawning.

Where does it come from

Sheepshead tend to reside in places like bays and river mouths where salt water meets fresh. You’ll find plenty of them offshore during the early springtime when they spawn. Because they like to feed on hard-shelled critters like oysters, crabs and even barnacles, you’ll find plenty of Sheepshead gathered around piers and bridge supports.

How it's prepared

This fish makes a tasty meal in all sorts of ways, the most popular being blackened, broiled or fried up golden brown. If you’re feeling adventurous, try substituting Sheepshead in any dish that calls for crab meat. Just cut the red meat from the filets, cook it with crab boil for several minutes and serve when it gets flaky.



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