Scup (Porgy)

Scup are a small, but feisty and tasty, inshore species of much of the eastern coast of the USA that is particularly popular with younger anglers
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Where and When?

The scup are distributed close to the shore along the eastern coast of the USA from Nova Scotia south to Floridabut are not particularly common south of North Carolina. They are an endemic species, being found nowhere else in the world. In summertime they are an inshore species much of the time and can be abundant and form shoals close to piers and jetties or even inside harbours and estuaries. scup fishing is usually easiest during the slack tide periods around each high and low tide. They are usually caught more abundantly during the warmer months, when they are close inshore and in spawning aggregations, while in winter, many of the larger scup are dispersed in deeper offshore waters. Most scup fishing is carried out during daytime but dusk and dawn is also productive and the fish probably feed throughout the night.

About Scup (Porgy)

Scup, also known as porgy, are a generally silvery, “pan sized and shaped”, fish with horizontal stripes, a very small mouth and small eyes near the top of the front of the head. They have small, sharp teeth to bite off and crunch up food and one long, spiny dorsal fin. The scup is a small species that shoals often, particularly during spawning, which usually takes place during summer over weed beds, fairly close to the shore. Large females may lay around 7 000 eggs. They can attain 46 centimeters (18 in.) and 2.1 kilograms (4.6 lbs) during a maximum lifespan of 14 years but most fish caught are around 35 centimeters (14 in.) and 1.4 kilograms (3 lbs). They feed mostly on bottom-living invertebrates such as worms, mussels, urchins and clams. The sexes are similar and the species undergoes an annual mass migration spending much of the winter near the edge of the continental shelf, quite far offshore, while during the summer most fish move close inshore. Scup were the unfortunate focus of one of America’s earliest trawling fisheries in the early 1800’s. This led to stock depletion which was fortunately addressed in the 1990’s and there are now firm signs of population recovery due to adequate fishing limits and quotas.

How to Catch?

Fishing for scup can be an excellent way to introduce newcomers to the sport. They are generally not reluctant to take bait and are not easily disturbed or scared off. They can be caught in fair numbers both from the shore, pier or jetty or from a small boat. Only light tackleis necessary and, due to the small size of the fish, many anglers use two or even three hook rigs when scup fishing. Most people prefer natural baits for scup but they may also be caught on some artificial lures such as leadhead jigs and plastics. Natural baits used are mostly mussels, clams and worms but scup are notorious for “stealing” bait and baiting with squid will make this theft a little more difficult. In most areas scup are common and take bait freely and many anglers feel that if you have not caught or hooked a scup for about 10 minutes in one spot it is best to move. When boat fishing, the use of chum pots can increase success rates, especially if the chum pot is hung from the bow of the boat in a gentle current. Seasoned scup anglers realise that the timing of the strike is the difference between losing your bait and hooking a scup and it is often best to strike as soon as you see the line tighten or rod twitch.