AKA: sea bream, pin perch, sand perch

Description: A small fish with an oval body, small mouth, incisor-like teeth and sharp dorsal spines. The body is silvery with yellow and blue horizontal stripes and four or five vertical lines. There is a black spot behind the gill cover. The pectoral and caudal fins are yellow. The dorsal fin is blue and yellow striped.

Size: Pinfish grow to 8 inches, but common catches range between 2 inches and 4 inches.

Sometimes confused with: spot, pigfish

Habitat: Pinfish are found around pilings, rocks and vegetated areas in shallow waters from Cape Cod, Mass., to Yucatan, Mexico, including the Gulf of Mexico, Bermuda and the northern coast of Cuba.

Eating habits: Pinfish eat shrimp, fish eggs, insect larvae, worms, amphipods and plants. Smaller food is swallowed whole while larger food is nibbled into pieces.

Life cycle: Pinfish reach sexual maturity around age 1. Spawning takes place in the fall and winter as the larger fish move offshore.

Fishing tips: Anglers catch pinfish from piers, docks, bridges and small boats, using two-hook bottom fishing rigs baited with shrimp, squid or bloodworms. Pinfish are notorious bait stealers and are often used as live bait by anglers fishing for larger fish.

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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