Also Called: Convict Fish, Sheepshead Seabream, Southern Sheeps’ Head
(Not to be confused with the freshwater sheepshead species found in northern lakes.)
An attractive fish with dark, vertical black stripes on its flanks, the Sheepshead’s name comes from a mouth full of eerily sheep-like teeth. They make for great eating and are a very challenging fish to catch, but with practice you will develop the feel for their unique convict bite.
Sheepshead are abundant in Hilton Head year-round, though they are more likely to spread out into offshore waters in the winter months. They tend to be more concentrated in shallow inshore waters in late spring or late fall.
Like Redfish and Black Drum, the meat of the Sheepshead takes on the mild, sweet flavor of the shellfish it eats. Some anglers prefer to fish them for sport only, however, because their large scales make them a bit more difficult to clean. (Of course, we’ll take care of that for you!)
You’ll find Sheepshead throughout Hilton Head’s inshore waters, where they forage for small shellfish and algae. Like most fish of this size, they like to hang around natural and manmade structures such as reefs, rock piles, piers and wrecks.
Shallow coastal bays
Bait: Attract the Sheepshead with any kind of shellfish, such as mussels, clams, small oysters, crabs and Shrimp.
Approach: The closer to the natural and artificial objects they congregate around (e.g. sea grass, fallen trees, dock or bridge supports, etc.), the better. If your hook doesn’t get caught from time to time, you’re not close enough when Sheepshead fishing.
Tackle: Hilton Head Fishing Charters will provide all the tackle and gear you will need to ensure a successful and productive Sheepshead experience; however, you must develop the feel for this bite to achieve maximum success.
You can keep up to 10 Sheepshead per person per day, not to exceed 30 per vessel per day, minimum 14 inches in tail length.