SHEEPSHEAD (Family Sparidae, PORGIES Archosargus probatocephalus)
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 drluu and spadefish disappear as fish mature; spadefish have small, blush-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, l to 2 pounds; OFFSHORE, common to 8 pounds.
Remarks: feeds on mollusks and crustaceans such as fiddler crabs and barnacles; famed nibblers, prompting the saying that “anglers must strike just before they do.”