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Learn about scup

The scup, or "porgy," known for its fine flavor and its pursuit of baited hooks. Read on to learn more about this species and how to catch them.


  • Scup are a silvery color with light blue specks and several horizontal stripes. Dark patches are on the head, and the belly is white. They can live 14 years, and weigh up to 2 pounds and grow 14 inches.
  • They have a laterally compressed body, with their bodies about twice as long as it is wide. Scup have a small mouth, high-set eyes, and one long dorsal fin with long spines attached.

Scup facts

Species name: Stenotomus chrysops

  • Scup inhabit the waters of the Northwest Atlantic and are commonly encountered from Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina.
  • Adult scup form schools of similar-sized individuals in areas with smooth or rocky bottoms. They are plentiful around piers, rocks, offshore ledges, and jetties. They move to southern coastal areas of Massachusetts in May and stay there until they migrate in October. This is due to scup's preference for water warmer than 45° F.
  • In southern New England, scup spawn from May to August. The eggs hatch about 40 hours after fertilization.
  • Scup support important recreational and commercial fisheries. Review the commercial and recreational regulations before hitting the water.
  • The scup lives along eastern North America waters. It is most common from Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina.
  • Adult scup feed on bottom invertebrates such as:
    • Small crabs
    • Worms
    • Clams
    • Mussels
    • Jellyfish
    • Sand dollars
  • Predators of the scup are typically cod, bluefish, and weakfish.

Angling tips

  • Scup fight hard when hooked, making this species a popular sport fish. Use a medium outfitted rod, 10 to 20 lbs mono or braid with snelled hooks rigged to a bottom weight leader. The majority of anglers prefer bait fishing. A typical rig includes the following:
    • A bank sinker tied to the end of the line
    • One to 3 snelled hooks tied to loops 6 to 10 inches above the sinker.
    • Sea worms, squid strips, or pieces of fish as bait
  • DMF recommends timely icing and cleaning to enjoy the full sweetness of this species' flavor. Simple methods of preparation are best. Scup are best when fried or poached and served with melted butter and a slice of lemon or lime. Large scup are delicious when coated with butter and grilled over a fire.

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