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Sheepshead Regulations and Rules

Sheepshead Regulations By State

Each States Laws & Regulations To Help Protect Sheepshead

During the winter months and early spring, anglers will flock to their favorite inshore fishing spots for their chance to catch sheepshead. The sheepshead is an elusive fish that earns its nickname of "convict" not only for the strip pattern it holds but also because of its ability to steal bait right off of your hook. Many consider the sheepshead as a weird looking fish because of its mouth of human-like teeth. Not only are they a challenge and fun to catch, but they will provide fillets that make for one heck of a meal. It is our duty as anglers to help protect these fish and make sure they survive so our kids can have a chance at catching them. All coastal states in the United States have put sheepshead rules and regulations in place to help protect them and prevent overfishing. Because this is a state-driven initiative, sheepshead regulations will vary from state to state. Knowing the correct laws for the state waters you fish will help avoid unwanted fines and tickets and help preserve sheepshead populations. By educating all anglers, we make smarter anglers to help drive sheepshead conservation. Let us take a look at each state's rules and regulations more in-depth.

Knowing The Regulations For Sheepshead Helps With Conservation
Knowing The Regulations For Sheepshead Helps With Conservation

Sheepshead Regulations For Each State

The beauty of knowing these rules and regulations is it will prevent you from breaking laws and losing money out of your pocket. After conducting some research, many states allow for different sizes and quantity of sheepshead that you are allowed to keep. If you ever ask yourself, "How many sheepsheads am I allowed to keep? Or "What is the minimum size for sheepshead that I can keep?" then we hope you find this very informative.

1) Alabama Sheepshead Regulations:

Sheepshead fish are found throughout the inner coastal waters of Alabama. During the winter months, anglers will fish the Gulf of Mexico for sheepshead. Here are the currents sheepshead regulations for catching convicts in Alabama to help all anglers avoid fines. 

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Website:

Alabama Fishing License:

A saltwater fishing license is required for anyone older than 16 but younger than 65.

Fishing License For Alabama: 

Annual: $23.35

Trip: $9.80

Pier: $6.20

Spear Fishing: $6.00

Once you have your fishing license, it is best to know the sheepshead creel limits. These limits let you know how many sheepsheads you can keep and how big they must be.

  • Daily Limit: 10 per person
  • Minimum size: 12″ minimum

Sheepshead Season: All Year 

Updated Alabama Sheepshead Regulation: January 2018.

2) Delaware Sheepshead Regulations

Sheepshead fishing in Delaware is something many anglers do. There has been some big sheepshead caught off the coast of this small state. Here are the Delaware rules and regulations for sheepshead.

Delaware Sheepshead Limits:

  • Daily Limit: No Limit
  • Minimum size: No Limit

Sheepshead Season: All Year 

Updated Delaware Sheepshead Regulation: 2018.

3) Georgia Sheepshead Regulations:

Many anglers will visit the Georgia coast each year for their chance to catch sheepshead. This part of the country is known for its inshore fishing. Here are the current sheepshead regulations in place in Georgia.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources Website:

Georgia Fishing License:

A saltwater fishing license is required in the state of Georgia. A free Saltwater Information Permit is additionally needed to fish in saltwater. 

Fishing License For Georgia:

Saltwater Fishing License

Annual: Resident $15.00, Non-Resident $50.00

The Georgia limit for sheepshead is one of the highest of the east coast. This allows anglers to harvest more fish.

  • Daily Limit: 15 per person
  • Minimum size: 10″ minimum

Sheepshead Season: All Year

Updated Georgia Sheepshead Regulation: 2020. 

4) Florida Sheepshead Regulations

Sheepshead fishing in Florida has become almost a way of life. Many anglers only target sheepshead when fishing. Florida has changed their sheepshead rules and regulations in 2018 to better protect sheepshead. Knowing the proper Florida sheepshead regulations can save you a hassle and money in the long run. Here are the rules and regulations for catching sheepshead in Florida to help all anglers avoid fines. 

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission:

Florida Fishing License:

A saltwater fishing license is required for all anglers.

Florida Saltwater Fishing License

Resident Annual: $17.00

Non-Resident Three Day: $17.00

Non-Resident Five Day: $30.00

Non-Resident Annual: $47.00

The Florida limit for sheepshead has evolved to better protect them due to recent popularity in catching them. Know your sheepshead regulations before targeting them.

  • Daily Limit For Anglers: 8 per person
  • Boat Limit: 50 per boat (March and April)
  • Minimum size: 12″ minimum

    Sheepshead Season: All Year

    Updated Florida Sheepshead Regulation: 2018. 

    5) Louisiana Sheepshead Regulations:

    There is no better feeling than catching a Louisiana sheepshead. Louisiana has an extensive coastline that is perfect for sheepshead fishing. Knowing the laws for Louisiana sheepshead will help you avoid tickets and fines.

    Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries:

    Louisiana Fishing License:

    A saltwater fishing license is required for all anglers.


    Basic Fishing: $9.50

    Saltwater: $13.00


    Basic Fishing: $60.00

    Saltwater: $30.00 

    Knowing the Louisiana limit is something that all saltwater anglers in La must know.

    • Daily Limit: No Limit
    • Minimum size: 10″ minimum  

    Sheepshead Season: All Year

    Updated Louisiana Sheepshead Regulation: 2018. 

    6) Maryland Sheepshead Regulations

    Maryland is known for its blue crab. They are also known for their sheepshead.  Here are the rules and regulations for sheepshead in Maryland.

    Maryland Sheepshead Limits:

    • Daily Limit: 4 Daily
    • Minimum size: No Limit

    Sheepshead Season: All Year 

    Updated Maryland Sheepshead Regulation: 2020.

    7) Mississippi Sheepshead Regulations:

    When it comes to the coastline, Mississippi has one of the smallest compared to other states. This does not stop anglers from catching sheepshead. Knowing the Mississippi sheepshead regulations will help you avoid any trouble while fishing in MS.

    Mississippi Department Of Marine Resources:

    Mississippi Fishing License:

    In Mississippi, it is required to possess a fishing license when saltwater fishing.

    Resident Sportsman's License: $45

    Resident Saltwater License: $10

    Resident All Game Freshwater Fishing: $25

    Non-Resident Freshwater License: $60

    Non-Resident Saltwater License: $30 

    Mississippi limits anglers for how many sheepsheads they can keep and require them to be a certain size before harvesting.

    • Daily Limit: 15 per person
    • Minimum size: 14″ minimum 

    Check out the Mississippi Guide to Saltwater Fishing for additional reading  PDF here.

    Sheepshead Season: All Year 

    Updated Mississippi Sheepshead Regulation: 2019. 

    8) North Carolina Sheepshead Regulations:

    North Carolina has an awesome coastline for fishing. There are many areas that are perfect for sheepshead fishing. Fishing the waters of North Carolina can produce some of the biggest sheepsheads around. Knowing the laws will help you avoid issues with your local DNR officers.

    North Carolina Environmental Department:

    North Carolina Fishing License:

    Resident Fishing - Annual

    Inland Fishing (basic): $20

    Comprehensive Inland Fishing: $25

    Coastal Recreational Fishing: $15

    Unified Inland/Coastal Recreational Fishing License: $40 

    Non-Resident Fishing - Annual

    Inland Fishing (basic): $30

    Coastal Recreational Fishing: $30 

    North Carolina Sheepshead Limits and Regulations:

    • Daily Limit: 10 per person
    • Minimum size: 10″ minimum

    Sheepshead Season: All Year 

    Updated North Carolina Sheepshead Regulation: 2018. 

    9) South Carolina Sheepshead Regulations:

    South Carolina Department of Natural Resources:

    South Carolina Fishing License:

    Resident Saltwater Fishing

    Three Year: $30.00

    Annual: $10.00

    14-day: $5.00

    Nonresident Saltwater Fishing

    Three Year: $105.00

    Annual: $35.00

    14-day: $11.00 

    Finding sheepshead in South Carolina is rather easy. The coast has a ton of inshore land perfect for convicts. 

    • Daily Limit: 10 per person per day, not to exceed 30 per boat per day
    • Minimum size: 14″ minimum

    Check out South Carolina State's Saltwater Fishing Regulations and Tips for more additional reading (PDF)

    Sheepshead Season: All Year 

    Updated South Carolina Sheepshead Regulation: 2018

    10) Texas Sheepshead Regulations:

    They say everything is bigger in Texas, that applies to their sheepshead. Texas is known for their sheepshead fishing. Sheepshead fish are found on the coast of Texas. Here are the currents regulations for catching sheepshead in Texas to help all anglers avoid fines. 

    Texas Parks and Wildlife:

    Texas Fishing License:

    To fish for sheepshead in Texas, all anglers are required to have a fishing license.

    Resident Freshwater Fishing Package: $30.00

    Resident Freshwater Fishing Package: $35.00

    Resident All Water Fishing Package: $40.00

    Non-Resident Saltwater Fishing Package: $63.00

    Texas Sheepshead Limits:

    • Daily Limit: 5 per person
    • Minimum size: 15″ minimum 

    Sheepshead Season: All Year 

    Updated Texas Sheepshead Regulation: 2020. 

    11) Virginia Sheepshead Regulations:

    Sheepshead fishing in Virginia can produce a cooler full of meat. Here are the currents regulations for catching sheepshead in Virginia to help all anglers avoid fines. 

    Virginia Marine Resource Commission:

    Virginia Fishing License:

    Saltwater fishing in Virginia requires all anglers to possess a saltwater fishing license.

    Saltwater Fishing License

    Resident: $17.50

    Non Resident: $25.00 

    Virginia Beach and the Chesapeake Bay area are great places to find sheepshead. As an angler, knowing the bag limit will allow you to keep the correct number of fish.

    • Daily Limit: 4 per person
    • Minimum size: No size limit

    Sheepshead Season: All Year 

    Updated Virginia Sheepshead Regulation: 2020. 

    Here are a few other states with sheepshead rules and regulations: 

    New Jersey and New York no limits found

    An angler that knows his state sheepshead regulations is one that genuinely cares about the waters he is fishing. These laws and regulations were put into place to protect convicts and keep them around for future generations. We must make sure they are not overfished. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to leave us a comment below or email us at We would love to hear your near-record monster sheepshead experiences. We would also like to see all of your sheepsheads catches, so make sure you send us all your great catches to be featured on our social media pages. Make sure to check out our sheepshead species page for other great sheepshead blogs. Find informative information on fishing for sheepsheadchumming for sheepshead, finding fiddlers for baitfilleting sheepshead, or amazing sheepshead recipes. Don't forget to get stocked with our sheepshead jigs and all of our sheepshead nation apparel for your next fishing trip. Know your state laws, help better protect sheepshead, and avoid unnecessary fines.

    (Updated August 2020)

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    Bill - June 10, 2023

    What is the sheepshead regulations in New Jersey

    Joshua Mason - July 13, 2021

    Can u shoot sheepshead with a bow in NY state? Having trouble finding info about this

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