A Midway man is the new tie state record holder for sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus) after the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) certified his catch Thursday.
Ben Golden III, 63, landed the 14-pound, 14.37-ounce sheepshead near the Sunbury community outside of Midway on Friday. His catch qualifies as a tie with the existing record of 14 pounds, 14 ounces set by Ralph White of Rincon in 2002.
Golden told DNR's Coastal Resources Division (CRD), which administers the Georgia Saltwater Game Fish Records program, that the catch marks a personal milestone.
"To be honest, I've been telling folks it's been my goal to catch a state record for 10 or 12 years," said Golden, who grew up in Midway and has been fishing the Georgia coast most of his life. "I'm excited to say that I did it."
Golden will receive a certificate acknowledging his record catch, and the record will be added to the list published at CoastalGaDNR.org/SaltwaterRecords. It will also be included in the 2024 Georgia Sport Fishing Regulations guide
Sheepshead is one of the most popular sportfish in Georgia, and is considered excellent table fare. Sometimes called "convict fish," the species is denoted by five to seven vertical stripes running along its body, along with large protruding teeth for crushing shellfish and urchins. Sheepshead are sometimes confused with black drum, but can be distinguished by their lack of barbels under the chin. Likewise, black drum do not have teeth like sheepshead.
Sheepshead are common around 7 pounds, but can easily be found up to 10 pounds. They reach maturity around 3-4 years of age and primarily live inshore, often near rocky areas, docks, bridges or artificial reefs, or other areas with barnacles.
Between 2017 and 2021, NOAA Fisheries estimates that Georgia recreational anglers caught an average of 490,197 sheepshead each year, with an average of 262,457 being harvested.