Pier Fishing in California

Resources :: California Fish

California Sheephead

California Sheephead


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.


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.


Length to 3 feet, and weight to 36.25 pounds.


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


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


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



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.