Diagnostic characters: Body and head deep and compressed. Dorsal profile of head usually with a slight concavity above eye. Posterior nostril slit-like. Mouth terminal and small, the maxilla not reaching to below anterior margin of eye; in both jaws, teeth in front in a row of narrow, close-set incisors; behind front row are villiform incisors; 2 rows of molariform teeth on sides of both jaws, the outside row smaller and more round. Dorsal fin with 12 spines preceded by a small forward-directed spine (that is a projection of the fin-spine support bone), and 12 soft rays; anal fin with 3 spines and 11 soft rays; caudal fin forked. Scales in lateral line 49 to 54. Colour: greyish silvery, usually with 5 or 6 faint dark bars on upper sides, and 12 to 15 indistinct stripes; faint blue irregular spots on head, sides, and fins.
Size: Maximum to 46 cm, common to 25 cm; world game record 1.87 kg.
Habitat, biology, and fisheries: In coastal waters mostly over hard bottoms.Feeds on a variety of hard benthic invertebrates including crabs, sea urchins, bivalves, and gastropods. Caught mostly by otter trawl but also by pound nets and haul seines; significant recreational catches.
Distribution: Nova Scotia to Florida, but rare south of North Carolina.
NEAMAP Scup Catch By Year Maps: