California Sheephead

Species: Pimelometopon pulchrum from the Latin pulcher (for beautiful) and pimelometopon meaning fat forehead.

Alternate Names: Sheepie, goat, billygoats (large fish), red fish, humpy, and fathead.

Identification: Easily identified by color. Adult females uniform brownish-red to rose; male with black head, red band in middle, and black in posterior portion of body; chin white on both sexes. Males have a fleshy lump on their forehead. Stout canine teeth in front of mouth; somewhat bucktoothed.

Size: Length to 3 feet, and weight to 36.25 pounds.

Range: Northern Gulf of California and from Cape San Lucas, Baja California, to Monterey. Common in southern California, uncommon north of Point Conception.

Habitat: Surface to 180 feet deep, along rocky bottoms and in kelp beds.

Piers: Available from piers located near rocks. Best bets: Ocean Beach Pier, Oceanside Pier, San Clemente Pier, Green Pleasure Pier -- Avalon, Redondo Sportfishing Pier and Santa Monica Pier. A number have also been taken from the Shelter Island Pier in San Diego Bay.

Bait and Tackle: Medium sized tackle, hooks size 4-2/0, and a variety of baits -- shrimp, ghost shrimp, bloodworms, fresh mussels, cut squid -- will attract sheephead if they're around the pier.

Food Value: Good.

Comments: Feeds on such delicacies as sea urchins, sand dollars, sea cucumbers, snails, squid, lobsters, shrimp and crabs which it crushes with tooth-plates in the rear of the mouth. Can live to over 50 years and is a protogynous hermaphrodite starting life as a female and then turning into a male when about one foot in length and 4 to 5 years in age.