Scup is a popular sport fish for anglers in Rhode Island.
Scup is a popular sport fish for anglers in Rhode Island.
Courtesy: NMFS

Scup (Stenotomus chrysops)

Alternate common name: Porgy.
Color: Silvery gray fish with faint, irregular, dark bars and pale blue flecks on its sides.
Size: 4 to 10 inches long.
Habitat: Smooth sand and rocky bottoms, open water.
Seasonal appearance: May to October.


The scup is a medium-sized fish with a deep, vertically compressed body. Its scales are iridescent, often reflecting the colors of the rainbow. Scup have small mouths with strong jaws and pointed teeth used to crush small mollusk shells. Its dorsal fin is composed of sharp spines that make up more than half the entire fin length.

Life History and Behavior

Scup are a migratory species of fish that travel in schools of similar-sized fish. They are sensitive to cold water temperatures and will move offshore into deeper waters during the winter. If caught in shallow waters when a cold snap hits, scup will often die. During the summer months, they tend to gather near the coastline and are never found more than a few miles offshore.

Scup are bottom feeders, often gathering near rocks and submerged pilings to feed on barnacles, mollusks, worms, and other invertebrates.

Fishery Note The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission manage the scup fishery for conservation of the species and longevity of the fishery.
Courtesy: Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA

Special Notes


Adapted from The Uncommon Guide to Common Life on Narragansett Bay. Save The Bay, 1998.