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** Archived Article - please check for current information. **

June 13, 2012

Gov. Haley signs new sheepshead catch, size limits regulation

A bill changing regulations for sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus) took effect upon signing by Governor Nikki Haley on Thursday, June 7.

Because sheepshead are largely caught in state waters, federal regulation of this species was terminated in April. Consultation with S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) marine biologists and the fishing public indicated that it would be wise to have some harvest limits for the species. Fishing pressure for this species has been growing in the last few years.

The new regulations for sheepshead allow 10 fish per person per day not to exceed 30 per boat per day with a 14-inch total length minimum size limit. Using circle hooks is no longer a requirement when fishing for sheepshead. Sheepshead are year-round residents from about South Carolina through the Gulf of Mexico, and most abundant to the north between April through November. They are found in coastal waters, bays and estuaries, and are tolerant of low salinity brackish waters as well. Sheepshead are most frequently encountered near structure like pilings, jetties, oyster reefs, artificial reefs and coastal live bottom. Their close association with manmade reefs in South Carolina is documented as far back as the mid 1800’s.

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