This big Georgia sheepshead tied a two-decade-old state record for the species after weighing in at 14 pounds, 14.37 ounces.
The angler, Ben Golden III, of Midway, Ga., caught his fish near the Sunbury community outside of Midway on Feb. 3. The catch qualifies as a tie with the existing record of 14-pounds, 14-ounces set by Ralph White, of Rincon, Ga., in 2002.
Golden told DNR’s Coastal Resources Division (CRD), which administers the Georgia Saltwater Game Fish Records program, that the catch marks a personal milestone.
“To be honest, I’ve been telling folks it’s been my goal to catch a state record for 10 or 12 years,” said Golden, who grew up in Midway and has been fishing the Georgia coast most of his life. “I’m excited to say that I did it.”
Golden will receive a certificate acknowledging his record catch, and the record will be added to the list published at CoastalGaDNR.org/SaltwaterRecords. It will also be included in the 2024 Georgia Sport Fishing Regulations guide.
Sheepshead is one of the most popular sportfish in Georgia and is considered excellent table fare. Sometimes called “convict fish,” the species is denoted by five to seven vertical stripes running along its body, along with large protruding teeth for crushing shellfish and urchins. Sheepshead are sometimes confused with black drum but can be distinguished by their lack of barbels under the chin. Likewise, black drum do not have teeth like sheephead.
Sheepshead are common around 7 pounds but can easily be found up to 10 pounds. They reach maturity around 3 to 4 years of age and primarily live inshore, often near rocky areas, docks, bridges or artificial reefs, or other areas with barnacles.
Between 2017 and 2021, NOAA Fisheries estimates that Georgia recreational anglers caught an average of 490,197 sheepshead each year, with an average of 262,457 being harvested.
For more information on the Georgia Saltwater Game Fish Records program, visit www.CoastalGaDNR.org/SaltwaterRecords.