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AKA: pogy, fatback, shad, bunker

Description: Atlantic menhaden are small, blue-black fish with metallic flanks and a deeply forked tail. They have a prominent dark spot on the shoulder, often followed by two or three irregular rows of smaller spots. They spawn in the ocean then enter the estuaries for food. They swim in large schools and provide an important role in marine ecosystems as a forage fish for larger predators.

Size:  Menhaden can reach up to 15 inches in length and about a pound in weight, although they are commonly caught much smaller than this. 

Sometimes confused with: Atlantic Thread Herring or other members of the Herring Family (Family Clupeidae). 

Habitat: Menhaden are common in all coastal and estuarine waters in North Carolina.

Eating habits: Menhaden are filter feeders whose diet primarily consist of phytoplankton and zooplankton.

Life Cycle: Mature menhaden spawn in the ocean and then drift into estuarine environments as larvae, where they stay until they mature and leave the estuary. 

N.C. Saltwater Fishing Tournament

No award given for this species.


Persons engaged in recreational fishing in North Carolina coastal waters are required to possess a Coastal Recreational Fishing License in accordance with G.S. 113-174.2.

Current Proclamations

Recreational Size and Bag Limits

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