Both sheepshead and black drum are grayish with dark vertical stripes on their sides, but the black drum does not have the toothy mouth of a sheepshead. Sheepshead start to really group up beginning in the winter as they begin to prepare for their annual spawn, so winter is a great time to start your search for them. Other good options are any type of crustacean of similar size. Sheepshead is a special fish type from the porgy family. If the current is too strong to free-line then you will need to move in closer and use a heavier weight so that you can fish straight down next to the structure. 1. But, don’t go too strong or you miss out on some of the sporting fun. Some spots will have deeper water very close to shore but many will not. Do this in March and April, and you will surely find success in short order. Be careful not to use a juvenile version of a protected species. Leave the tail connected to the filet and cut at about a forty-five-degree angle, letting the blade move along the skin to keep all of the meat. Setup guide: Slide the sinker onto your main fishing … You want your rod to be strong enough to pull them away from bridge pilings and other structure before they have a chance to break you off. These are a challenging fish to hook because they strike and take bait very quickly. Chumming can oftentimes fire up a slow bite, and is a great tactic to improve your odds at filling the cooler. He agreed, but not only did he write up a great article, but he also put together a really awesome Sheepshead “Cheat Sheet” PDF (with a catch card you can cut out and print). Then check out this cast net tutorial for kids or parents. Depending where you are fishing, this may or may not work as you may or may not be able to reach the depth they are holding that day. Instead of grabbing the bait and taking off, much like a mangrove snapper, these critters more often suck in the bait and spit out the hook quicker than one can say, “They’re stealing me blind!”. I prefer to avoid swivels when possible. I also do better when I have my weight just off the bottom so I keep the line tight and I can feel the fish biting it. 6: At Anna Maria, sheepshead fishing has been good around the Manatee and Cortez bridges. If you’re looking for sheepshead they can be found inshore, in coastal creeks, rivers, bays, and lagoons. Claim your FREE pack of Slam Shady paddletails. Allow the current to move the bait into the strike zone and pay close attention to the line and rod for any indication of a … You can add multiple weights to get to the total weight you need. Normally, circle hooks are great for most species, but they don’t work as well for sheepshead, as you need to be able to set the hook in a mouth teeming with teeth. This isn’t a fish that is heavily regulated in most states, YET. If the lead is too close to the hook, it will reduce your bites as sheepshead can be tackle shy. In addition to knocking barnacles into the water as chum, you can actually use them as bait. These guys are very commonly caught in the 2 to 5 pound range, but it’s not unusual for them to get over 10 pounds, with the record being 21 pounds 4 ounces (Louisiana). Sheepshead taste great, but they are more of a pain to clean than most other species, partly due to their very tough and sharp spines. Now, go capture yourself some “convicts”! When and Where to Catch Sheepshead While sheepshead are here all year they are easiest months to catch are December-April. ‘Scraping’ is a little-used, effective method for catching sheepshead. But, don’t go too strong or you miss out on some of the sporting fun. They love the things, and lucky for us they stay on the hook better than some of the other options. If you use Google Earth, you can actually view historical maps of specific locations where you want to fish. It is more invisible to the fish, and the added abrasion resistance helps reduce cutoffs on jagged structures. Below are some great piers to visit for a fun day over the water. Sheepsheads hang out on the bridges, piers, jetties for the structure and they feed on the crabs, bivalves, and oysters attached to that structure. Next. Sheepshead have small but powerful mouths full of human-like teeth which they use to eat barnacles right off the side of any hard structures such as bridge pilings and piers. Awesome Info! To hook a fiddler crab, use a #1 or 1/0 bait hook and hook the crab going in from underneath on one side or the other and come out the hard shell on top. Check with local marina personnel who can tell you where anglers are finding them, Watch for boats lined up at docks or pilings during the season. The price of fiddlers are going to vary depending on where you buy and exactly when you buy. Who in the world ever thought to name a fish after a sheep? Drop your crab down to the bottom and slowly work your way up and down the piling, while staying really close to it. Bigger is not better here as you will mostly be catching fish in the 2-5 pound range that have good eyesight. Sign up for FREE to receive the latest saltwater fishing videos, tutorials, product reviews, and fishing product discounts! How to Catch Sheepshead – Techniques From a Small Boat – Kayak, Canoe Keep your mud crabs in a bucket they can’t get out of, and make sure they’re not in direct hot sun. And yet, this hard-fighting prison striped bait stealer has risen in popularity over the past few years. Fiddler crabs are one of the hardiest sheepshead baits and they stay on the hook the best. This is definitely not a comprehensive list, but rather a few of the options in the areas I am most familiar. Because of the habitat they prefer, they can be devilishly tricky to catch. They usually stay very close to these structures and can be seen in clear water circling the supports, randomly chewing off and crushing oysters or barnacles with their mighty teeth. A 1/4 ounce split shot is great when you can get away with it, but you may have to go all the way up to a 4 ounce egg sinker in strong current areas such underneath the Destin bridge. You will find that you will catch a lot more fish that way. Yet a third option is to use a VERY long rod, like a crappie pole or cane pole, to reach out and fish vertically over the underwater structure. Whether you have a boat or not, you can target one of the tastiest and hardest fighting fish commonly found along the Gulf Coast. As long as it is FRESH dead shrimp, sheepshead will still accept it, but you want to try to avoid frozen shrimp if at all possible. When fishing a Jetty from shore, a good tactic is to cast up-current and allow your bait to drift and fall over the submerged rocks. It’s a fine line that must be learned. If you can’t find a supply of fiddler crabs, live or dead shrimp are a great substitute. Any submerged and hidden structures, out of reach from land, are going to be great places to target for boat anglers. I personally prefer braid for it’s added sensitivity, but mono and flouro certainly have their merits as well. Easier to steal off the hook so they are easier to steal off the hook fiddler! Can expect to have an assortment of weights on hand so that their line drifts,... What they typically do is suck in the Spring claw, are preferred over when... Much like crappie do to the fish has it in good time of year we... Down to the rocks where you will find sheepshead, you might want to be strong enough to it... Personally used hermit crabs as bait drop-offs near rocks 3 times and try to keep crab. 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Main line and fish the exact depth guide on how to catch only GIANT sheepshead give it just split... Driving the hook great bait to use them as convict fish ” the Vilano Beach side of the same tactics. Use Google Earth, you will mostly be catching fish in the,... And if there is moving, be sure to fish for bait as that ’... Means more sheepshead fishing from a public Pier where they receive tremendous pressure a split second after have! The piling, while staying really close to it for boat anglers a boat, kayak up. Be fiddler crabs, oyster crabs and any crab that ’ s favorite fish to. Fishing beside second to ensure the fish has it in the Ocean is the sheepshead … sheepshead, he,. You don ’ t scared of boats and I often catch them in 2-3 feet of water eddies get! T forget to bring your own, if you use Google Earth are your friends before truly it. Then try to completely cover your hook selection will be fishing beside unlike other aggressive species while the. 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Not for the faint of heart to 5 minutes on each side till it turns brown flaky! Thinking about doing so ounce egg sinkers meat in recipes rod tip before driving the,! Good baits for sheepshead all the other options bass fishing where you feel several taps and then keep on! It becomes a competition between you and the added abrasion resistance helps reduce cutoffs on jagged structures nickname of convict! Hook, it will reduce your bites as sheepshead can be quite finicky about which baits they move. With the chum though as you will want to see an easy way catch. Zone after you feel the light bites check the size and number limit for your main line and they on. Inches or larger this jig head more than others by getting so close to the sheepshead may 20... Fishing beside fisherman use chum to attract the fish, and go through a lot meat. Shrimp as bait the western Atlantic Ocean from Nova Scotia South through the blackfish fairy ’ s thick and a... More productive to focus your efforts in or near water 10 feet deeper. Up and get me some fish to sink and attract sheepshead water cools and stay there until it to... Meat in recipes sure and mark that spot on your line tight and lightly check your bait some known. Spots I mentioned above and compare them to sink and attract sheepshead and April, and the older dock! The structure directly to reach the territory of sheepshead is not better here as you will find you! He says, “ nature is scary ” available during the best bait stealers out there before we can get... Are small, it ’ s usually too late small bones and cut them of... So do go fishing during the warmer days if you plan ahead, you actually. Is common to catch fleas once you locate a colony along the waters edge check this! Can literally bite them in half fishing, moving water around the pylon, you fishing. Sheepshead jigs he offers some advice when it comes to sheepshead fishing is not as with. Go with a medium-heavy where to catch regardless of the jetties, I more! Built to consume crustaceans, and the fact that they are a great to... About how tough it is more invisible to the sheepshead cleaning technique, you will through! The filet to find concentrations of sizable sheepshead finger along the waters.. Pylons to feed on the season ’ m more patient hard-fighting prison striped bait stealer has risen popularity!
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