OTHER NAMES: Convict Fish
RANGE: All Florida salt
HABITAT: Areas of rocky
bottom, from far up coastal creeks and rivers, to well offshore. Loves
dock and bridge pilings, artificial reefs and any other structure that
wears barnacles and/or harbors crabs. Forages for crustaceans, at times,
on shallow soft-bottom flats in the manner of Redfish or Bonefish.
Black vertical bands stand out against dull white, gray or yellowish
background. The mouth is full of massive, protruding teeth that give the
fish its name, and distinguish it from the juvenile Black Drum , the
only fish with which it is likely to be confused. Spines of the dorsal
and anal fins are heavy and sharp.
Common from less than a pound to 4 pounds. Fairly plentiful at 57
pounds. Fish approaching 10 pounds, and occasionally surpassing 10, are
taken each year in North Florida, especially from offshore wrecks and
navigation markers in late winter and spring. World record 221 pounds, 4
: 15 pounds, 2 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: One of the
best, thanks in great part to its shellfish diet.
GAME QUALITIES: Not an aggressive strike; very tough on light tackle.
Pulls hard and uses flat shape to advantage.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Light
spinning and bait casting tackle are tops for sport, but rod tip should
not be too soft, as the tough and toothy mouth makes it hard to set a
hook. Best baits are fiddlers or other small crabs; cut pieces of blue
crab; live or fresh-dead shrimp (threaded on the hook); pieces of
oysters and clams. Sheepshead will readily hit slow-moving jigs tipped
with these baits and, occasionally, will take the bare jig.