Scup are deep-bodied and have very spiny fins. The front teeth are incisor-form and are very narrow, almost conical. There are two rows of molars in the upper jaw. Longspine porgy are similar, but may be readily identified by their elongated dorsal spines. Scup are dusky brown with somewhat bright silverly reflections below. The fins are mottled with dark brown in the adults and the young may be faintly barred.
Scup inhabit the nearshore region of the continental shelf from Nove Scotia to South Carolina, and prefer hard bottom habitats, such as rock outcroppings and wrecks in waters of 45° F or wamer. Spawning takes place from May to August in northern portions of the range. Sexual maturity is attained when fish are 2 years old and about 8 inches long. The eggs and larvae are pelagic and are carried by currents and winds before settling to the bottom. Scup may live to be 15 years old, reaching a length of 18 inches and a weight of 3 pounds. Scup are browsers; they nibble on invertebrates that live on the ocean bottom. They are able to grasp foods with their incisors, and then crush hard-shelled animals with their strong molars.
South Atlantic Federal Regulations
- Minimum Size Limit: None
- Trip Limit: None
- Limited access permit required
- Included in the Porgies Complex (jolthead porgy, knobbed porgy, saucereye, porgy, whitebone porgy, scup)
- Regulatory Remarks:
- Stock North of Cape Hatteras, NC is managed separately by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and different regulations may apply.
- All species must be landed with head and fins intact.
- Recreational and commercial fishermen are required to use dehooking tools when fishing for snapper grouper species.
- The use of non-stainless steel circle hooks (offset or non-offset) is required for all species in the snapper grouper complex when using hook-and-line gear with natural baits in waters North of 28 degrees N. latitude.
- After the commercial annual catch limit for the Porgies Complex (jolthead porgy, knobbed porgy, saucereye, porgy, whitebone porgy, scup) is met, all purchase and sale is prohibited and harvest and/or possession is limited to the recreational bag limit (while recreational harvest is open). This prohibition does not apply to fish harvested, landed, and sold prior to the annual catch limit being reached and held in cold storage by a dealer.
- Charter/Headboat and Commercial snapper grouper vessels must have onboard NMFS approved sea turtle release gear and follow smalltooth sawfish release protocol. Click here to learn more or call 727-824-5312.
- Annual Catch Limit (ACL) - This species is managed under an ACL (Porgies Complex). See current information on Commercial ACLs (quotas) from NOAA Fisheries.
- Allowable Gear:
- Vertical hook-and-line including hand-held hook-and-line and bandit gear. Spearfishing gear without rebreathers.
- Powerheads, except where expressly prohibited in Special Management Zones (SMZs) and in the EEZ off South Carolina.
- Minimum Size Limit: None South of Cape Hatteras, NC. North of Cape Hatteras, NC the minimum size limit is 9 inches total length.
- Bag Limit: Included in the 20 Fish Aggregate Bag Limit.
- Beginning March 30, 2020, the 20-fish per person per day aggregate bag limit remains in effect, however, an angler will be limited to harvesting 10 fish of any one species in the 20-fish aggregate
- The aggregate bag limit applies to the following species: whitebone porgy, jolthead porgy, knobbed porgy, saucereye porgy, scup, gray triggerfish, bar jack, almaco jack, banded rudderfish, lesser amberjack, white grunt, margate, sailor’s choice, and Atlantic spadefish.
- Regulatory Remarks:
- There are two management entities that work cooperatively to develop fishery regulations for scup: the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC), in conjunction with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
- For more information, check the Mid Atlantic Fishery Management Council website: www.mafmc.org