California Sheephead Fishing (Semicossyphus pulcher)

All Tackle Record
28lbs, 6oz

California Sheephead Fishing (Semicossyphus pulcher)

The California Sheephead is an exotic looking fish, a rare Wrasse available to anglers in North American waters. It puts up a fair fight, tastes great and is prime photo material.

How big

The species is one of the largest members of the Wrasse family, able to grow up to 35lbs and 36''. Males and females differ significantly in weight, and the average catch size varies greatly.


California Sheephead can be found from Monterey Bay, CA to the Gulf od California, off either side of the Baja Peninsula. They inhabit kelp beds and rocky/reefy structures up to 500ft deep.

How to catch

The best bait for Sheephead will be whole squids or baby octopus. The species boasts tough shell-crushing teeth and a thick mouth, so a braided line with a very sharp hook is recommended, as well as forceful setting of the hook once the bait is taken.

They stay fairly close to the bottom and the bait shouldn't be presented any higher up. The first strike is followed by a dive to the bottom, which will usually determine the winner. After that, head shakes are the only resistance they put up.

Good to eat?

They are considered an excellent food fish.



  • Season - Closed Jan 1 - Apr 30 for boat-based anglers, open year-round for spearfishers and shore-based anglers;
  • Size limit - 12'' minimum;
  • Bag limit - 5 fish;

         Mexico allows up to 5 fish of a single species;