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Maryland Fish Facts

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Scup
/sites/dnr/fisheries/fishfacts/Scup-Porgy.png


Scup
Stenotomus chrysops
(A.K.A. Porgy, Maiden, Fair maid, Ironsides, Northern porgy)
Key Distinguishing Markings:
  • Scup are deep-bodied (deeper from back to belly than they are wide).
  • They are dusky brown with bright silvery reflections below and spiny fins.
  • Adult fins are mottled with dark brown, and young scup fins may be faintly barred.
  • Scup’s front teeth are very narrow, almost conical, and they have two rows of molars in the upper jaw.
  • Longspine porgy look similar to scup, but can be easily identified by the elongated spines on their backs.

Distribution:
  • ​Scup undergo an extensive migration between coastal waters in the summer and offshore waters (outer continental shelf) in winter. 
  • They migrate offshore and south in the fall, returning north and inshore to coastal areas and bays in spring.
  • Scup are found in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, primarily between Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.​

Size:

  • ​​Scup grow slowly, up to about 20 inches long and 4 pounds.


Habitat:
  • ​Found to depths of 15m, often inshore in summer, offshore in winter.​


Spawning:
  • Scup are able to reproduce when they reach age 2, when they’re about 8 inches long.
  • They spawn over weedy or sandy areas in southern New England from Massachusetts Bay south to the New York Bight from May through August, with peak activity in June.
  • Individual scup spawn once a year.
  • Most fish spawn at night, but scientists believe scup spawn in the morning.
  • Females release an average of 7,000 eggs, which are fertilized externally.

Fishing Tips:
  • ​When fishing in shallow water, the fish can be a bit boat shy and the best bite may be several feet behind the boat.  
  • Keep your chum close, but drop your baits further back to target the biggest fish.  
  • Always being enough chum and do your best to fish where there is at least some current (to spread the chum).  
  • If you are catching smaller fish, pick up your anchor and find another spot.  
  • Drifting can also be effective when trying to find bigger fish.  Once they are located, you can consider anchoring and chumming.​


Fun Fact:

  • Scup can live a relatively long time, up to about 20 years.


Family: Sparidae (sea breams and porgies)
Order: Perciformes ("perch-like")
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)

​References:

  • ​https://neangling.com/recommended-tackle/porgy-tackle/
  • http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=159811
  • https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/scup