As far as artificial lures go, they usually won’t hit fish or shrimp imitations, but they love lures imitating fiddler crabs. Do what the “SMART ANGLERS” are doing and join the Insider Club. But, don’t go too strong or you miss out on some of the sporting fun. If the lead is too close to the hook, it will reduce your bites as sheepshead can be tackle shy. When the water is moving, be sure to fish behind the structure in the eddies that get created. Barnacles on the other hand do not have size limits or specified bag limits, which means that you can harvest up to 100 pounds per person per day with a recreational saltwater fishing license and you can use them to chum sheepshead. I tend to catch them when I’m more patient. 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). Want to see an easy way to catch loads of trout? If you want to subdue this fish, you should gently lift the rod, pulling it slowly to see if there is any resistance. Additionally, they play second fiddle to more glamorous species, much like crappie do to the Largemouth bass. Sheepshead, in my opinion, can be one of the most challenging species to catch! The same slack tide that makes for lousy inside fishing would make for ideal sheepshead fishing at these structures. These are all good baits for sheepshead as well. When the temperature begins to drop, they move closer to shore and can be found wherever oysters, barnacles, or mussels form. When the Sheepshead … If I were to throw out a ballpark price I’d save they should be about $4 a dozen. Where to catch Sheepshead. How to Catch December Sheepshead. Hence, you would have to cast beneath you or even little below the structure directly to reach the territory of Sheepshead. Shrimp? You don't need a fancy boat or an expensive trolling motor, all you need is... Would love your thoughts, please comment. 130 W. Central Ave, Winter Haven, FL, 33880. 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. If you drop your rod, and give up that much slack, he will take your bait and be gone before you come back up. With this being said, here’s a few tackle tips to increase your odds when it comes to sheepshead fishing! Just break them open and thread them onto the hook as best you can. Midwinter tips for catching a limit of good-eating panfish. Here is a good video explaining how to locate and catch them. You have several options for your main line and they all can work well. It has helped me with my landing ratio using this jig head. They are found in abundance in saltwater areas. Pa-POW! While generally much larger than the summer’s back-bay blackfish, a sheepshead’s hit is subtle compared to the tap-tap-tap of a biting tog. Below are some widely known sheepshead haunts to give you an idea what to look for in your area. It’s a fish that lends itself to being cooked all sorts of ways, with my favorites being blackened or fried. If you feel several taps and then try to set the hook, it’s usually too late. If you don’t get bites within 10 minutes you need to move because you aren’t in a good spot. In the United States, it is common to catch them From North Carolina, South Carolina and all the way down to Florida. https://www.skylinejigs.com/product/skyline-sheepshead-jigs/, How To Throw A 4-Foot Cast Net Without Using Your Mouth [VIDEO]. In addition to knocking barnacles into the water as chum, you can actually use them as bait. The difference between the two records says a lot about how tough it is to land these fish with a rod and reel. Pound for pound they are powerful fighters reminiscent of a giant bluegill, but,they don’t always share the willing appetite of a bluegill. 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. Do you drop the Carolina rig to the bottom? There are many piers all along the gulf coast that hold great numbers of Sheepshead. So I asked him if he would mind sharing what he’s doing. Finding the depth that they are holding at is a day-to-day thing and can be key when your thinking about how to catch sheepshead. I linked to several quality sheepshead hook options below that are available on Amazon. So in order to get these fish from hook to table, anglers must consider four things: Sheepshead spend most of the year out in the deeper, cooler water. These fish like to really hug the pilings, you see. but they are easier to steal off the hook so they are not as good as crabs or shrimp. Pound for pound they are powerful fighters reminiscent of a giant bluegill, but,they don’t always share the willing appetite of a bluegill. Sheepies congregate around pilings on the bottom. Generally speaking the best time to go after sheepshead is December to April, with the hottest bite being in March and April as they congregate to spawn. There are too many crab options to bother listing them all. 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. Commit about 10 minutes to a piling, after you have crushed the barnacles, as the fish may need some time to settle back down after the disturbance. You can also simply scrape them off bridge piles and allow them to sink and attract sheepshead. After you catch your first sheepshead, don’t forget to handle him carefully, as the sharp dorsal spines on top and the sharp gill plates will mess you up. Where you are most likely to catch them really depends on the season. You can add multiple weights to get to the total weight you need. So, graphite is a far better option than fiberglass. 5. This isn’t a fish that is heavily regulated in most states, YET. Trebles work well when fishing with shrimp. Or, if you already own some bass fishing gear, that will work great as well. When in doubt, go smaller on the hooks. NO. And now you know why, during the winter months, all those anglers are lined up right next to the dock posts, trestles, and other structures. This makes for quite a challenging fish to catch, which is partly what makes them so fun to target. You can also use a carolina rig, with a swivel connecting your leader to your main line, with the weight above the swivel. 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. When setting the hook, don’t set it right away or you will many times yank the hook out of his mouth. If you prefer nice filets to fish nuggets, you’ll need to pay attention to the large rib cage close to the head. Keep your line tight and lightly check your bait with a very slight pull. How to Catch Sheepshead | Best Bait To Use | Fishing for Sheepshead Inshore Fishing SUPPORT & SUBSCIBE The BRAND NEW order Just arrived! The spear-fishing record is 40 pounds, 7 ounces. Thanks. Once you are past the structure,  reel in and repeat the process over and over. A stud sheepshead will get over 10 pounds, so if you are fishing around vertical structure such as bridge pilings you might want something with some decent drag to get the fish out before he wraps you up. 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. A sheepshead is a saltwater fish that has healthy teeth both in its upper and lower jaws. If you can find shrimp 1.5 inches long then use the whole shrimp and run the hook through it’s tail and out the underside of the body, thereby burying the shank of the hook. These are a challenging fish to hook because they strike and take bait very quickly. As the winter progresses, they will begin accepting shrimp, but with one caveat. To catch sheepshead, a lot of fisherman use chum to attract the fish closer to their hooks. If you do this,  make sure you keep the slack out of your line the best you can so you can detect the bite. If you want more in-depth information and on-the-water footage about catching sheepshead, check out our sheepshead mini-course (note: this is for Insiders only). The sheepshead fish or striped bandit is a wintertime inshore fishing mainstay for many anglers along the southern Atlantic coast down around Florida and up into the Gulf of Mexico. This fish is a nearshore species that is commonly found along structure such as rocks, pilings, piers, jetties, mangroves, as well as at the mouths of tidal creeks. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, of course, which I have listed below. Another option is to use a cork, and suspend your bait above the rocks at whichever depth you find to be most productive that day. Sheepshead generally will be facing structure, moving up and down in the water column as they eat on the attached barnacles. Bridges are one of the best places to find concentrations of sizable sheepshead. Sheepshead fishing remains steady in Tampa Bay. Structure: docks, piers, marker posts, rocks, artificial reefs, Preferring small crabs, barnacles and oysters over shrimp, Carolina Rig with short leader. Great cleaning idea. Do this in March and April, and you will surely find success in short order. braided line. Bigger is not better here as you will mostly be catching fish in the 2-5 pound range that have good eyesight. Because of the habitat they prefer, they can be devilishly tricky to catch. Do so gently so as to not crush the bait. Sheepshead remind me a lot of crappie in that they have a similar panfish shape, they taste excellent and they are difficult to master. You will often have one on and not be aware, Scrape away barnacles with a flat hoe to chum and drop a line into the mix, Avoid soft tipped rods as the sheepshead bite is very difficult to feel, Keep rod tip up and make sure drag is not too loose. If your crabs are small, it’s OK to put more than one on the same hook. Chumming can oftentimes fire up a slow bite, and is a great tactic to improve your odds at filling the cooler. It can be difficult to detect bites this way, but it will certainly work, and you won’t lose as much terminal tackle. Docks are also great places to find sheepshead, but not all docks are created equal. Who in the world ever thought to name a fish after a sheep? braided line. but it’s not unusual for them to get over 10 pounds, with the. If you think about it,  they eat barnacles off of concrete pilings all day, so a thin hook is no match for their powerful bite. Just remember, Google Maps and Google Earth are your friends. 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. My catch % seems to go up. This will help prevent as many hangups. It would be great to use them up and get me some fish! Additionally, many fishermen love to hunt this fish as it’s thick and has a lot of meat at the same time. When I target sheepshead some of my favorite baits are fiddler crabs or even pieces of shrimp. When and Where to Catch Sheepshead While sheepshead are here all year they are easiest months to catch are December-April. Also, do yourself a favor and carefully pull those lips back, and check out the gnarley teeth, as they are truly something to behold. At certain times of the year they are plentiful along the edge of the surf. Sign me up! 3. Before keeping your sheepshead, check the size and number limit for your area. 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. It is more invisible to the fish, and the added abrasion resistance helps reduce cutoffs on jagged structures. Sign me up! If the tackle shop has them, that is definitely what you want to get. Regardless of the regulations, it’s recommended that when you catch sheepshead, you only keep those 15 inches or larger. Any 2500-5000 sized reel should be perfect. Remember, their black and white prisoner-like coloring should remind you that they are one of the best bait stealers out there. Give him just a split second to ensure the fish has it in his mouth. Vertical bands stand out against a dull white, gray or yellowish background. Next. Get yourself some fiddler crabs, and find some OLD, barnacle encrusted bridge pilings close to the ocean, in approximately 10 feet of water. They can be found several miles offshore as well as under docks in as little as three feet of water. When fishing for Sheepshead I will usually start fishing at the bottom of the water column and work my way up until I start catching fish. Tie your leader to the mainline with a double uni knot, and if using clamp on weights, put it right below the knot. Today, sheepshead are no longer considered consolation fish. So, if you want to avoid redfish for some strange reason, then don’t use shrimp. 1. When hooked, sheepshead are clever at wrapping line around the structure causing you to use a few choice words while you spend more time rigging than fishing. P.S. If there is moving water around the pylon, you want to be on the down current side. In fact, at times, they can be quite finicky about which baits they will take. lures sitting in a scent tub. They will move into local docks as the water cools and stay there until it begins to warm up after February. YES! For some anglers, this makes fishing for sheepshead all the more fun. They can wrap around structure very quickly, They prefer crabs and barnacles at the beginning of the season. You want to focus on those close to deep water access and the older the dock the better. Tackle Selection For Sheepshead. Some pompano and plenty of … Sheepshead Catch Card (click here for free download). You can catch them year round in most gulf coast areas, but you won’t find them as stacked up and eager to feed as you do during these springtime months. One of the best is to simply crush barnacles off any bridge pilings you may be fishing beside. Fish On! Here’s what you’ll receive today when you join: P.S. Catching a sheepshead, he says, can be merely a matter of picking through the blackfish. Go with the lightest weights that you can get away with. They’re great fun for adults and children alike. Anywhere from 12 to 25 pound mono or flourocarbon is a good choice. If you are going to be fishing around rubble piles then you can get away with lighter gear, which makes it much more fun. Because there are lots of oysters about, I don’t like to cast out where I can get snagged, so I just drop straight down from my boat. Any submerged and hidden structures, out of reach from land, are going to be great places to target for boat anglers. Just don’t use fish for bait as that won’t produce the results you want. You Rock! So, as hard as it is, give it just a split second after you feel the initial bite. Everything you need to start catching fish more consistently (regardless if you fish out of a boat, kayak, or land). I used to fish all the time from the old bridge when it … After Luke and I posted the “Bowfishing For Sheepshead” video, one of our members named Daniel Flinn reached out saying he’s had an unbelievable month catching sheepshead with rod and reel. Sheepshead Basics. Pensacola Beach Fishing Pier (Florida Panhandle), Navarre Beach Fishing Pier (Florida Panhandle). Bait close to structure, Bait: oysters, barnacles, clams, shrimp, sand fleas, Larger ones are staying in colder, deeper water, Smaller hooks, smaller bait pieces due to small mouths, Offshore around structure and artificial reefs in the summer, Nearshore around structure such as rocks, marker posts, debris from Nov – Feb, Inshore around piers, docks, posts, sunken structure, seawalls, and bridges in the cooler months, As soon as the water begins to cool, usually from November to late February, you’ll see sheepshead migrate inshore, When the tide begins to move, they will feed more consistently, Light spinning or bait casting tackle preferred, # 1.0 circle hook (go small on the hook – many anglers love the #1 Octopus hook by Gamakatsu), Enough weight to keep the bait near the structure, Carolina rig with a short 6-7-inch leader, Pay attention to small taps. Yes. Also, beware that oysters can have regulations and seasons applied to them so they may not be legal to collect from the wild in your area during certain times. You will find that you will catch a lot more fish that way. Bridge supports (and old railroad trestles like the one above). When searching for sheepshead, it is more productive to focus your efforts in or near water 10 feet or deeper. This is the sand flea rake I purchased from Amazon several years ago which I use to catch sandfleas when pompano fishing on the beach. The weight will depend on the tide, but it should be enough to keep the bait near the structure. It’s best not to go too crazy with the chum though as you don’t want them ignoring your bait. If you will be fishing primarily around docks and bridges, you might want to go with a medium-heavy. Once they’re out of the water, they’re nice on the dinner table too. Just use a sand flea rake and scoop them out of the swash zone after you have identified a stretch of beach holding them. NO. 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. As already discussed, a sensitive graphite rod, paired with braid, will help with light bites, as does being diligent with keeping slack out of the line. Will they take the Gulp! Before we can even get to how to catch sheepshead, we first must determine where to find them. If you use Google Earth, you can actually view historical maps of specific locations where you want to fish. On the other hand, the meat of sheepshead is delicious and has a natural taste. 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!”. You can expect to have some hangups and lost tackle with this method. I would say a medium power rod in the 6 to 7 foot range is a great balance between being sporting, yet strong enough to pull them away from structure. But, again, most bass reels should be fine if you crank the drag down. A Carolina rig with a #1 hook seems to work well as it generally places the bait down near the bottom where most of the sheepshead hang out. This will keep the crab alive for a while, which is preferred. The price of fiddlers are going to vary depending on where you buy and exactly when you buy. The old tongue in cheek saying is; in order to hook a sheepshead, you have to set the hook just before they bite. Field Reports 10 Sheepshead Tips and Tricks. Seasoned sheepshead anglers position themselves so that their line drifts into, not away from structure. Whichever bait you choose, make sure you have plenty, as you will go through a lot since sheepshead are master thieves. Then check out this cast net tutorial for kids or parents. Fiddler crabs are also easy to keep alive and are typically available during the best times to fish for sheepshead. 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. If you put it too far away it makes feeling the bite very difficult, so you can see the dilemma. About 1 to 2 feet long is a good length, and the leaders need to be made of fairly light mono or flourocarbon. Related Articles. You also do not want a light wire hook, as sheepshead can literally bite them in half. Catching Sheepshead in the Fall. If you don’t get bit, it’s time to move to another set of pylons. Anglers seeking sheepshead prefer a medium-stout 6 to 7-foot rod and a reel with 15 to 20 lb. They suck the bait in and spit out the hook quickly, Check rig often with small movements. A cheat sheet and catch card would be great for all of the species. Sheepshead fishing is not like bass fishing where you sometimes need to drop your rod tip before driving the hook home. Sheepshead are built to consume crustaceans, and if there is a favorite it has to be fiddler crabs. 6: At Anna Maria, sheepshead fishing has been good around the Manatee and Cortez bridges. Flourocarbon is better, as it is almost invisible to the fish, and it has added abrasion resistance. 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. It’s best to stock up on split shots along with some 1/2 to 4 ounce egg sinkers. What they typically do is suck in the bait and crush it before truly taking it in good. When you get a hit, make sure and mark that spot on your line and fish the exact depth. rod to be strong enough to pull them away from bridge pilings and other structure before they have a chance to break you off. Don’t let that frustrate you, since that’s just part of it when you go after “Convicts”, as they are master thieves. Rods and Reels for Sheepshead. Sheepsheads hang out on the bridges, piers, jetties for the structure and they feed on the crabs, bivalves, and oysters attached to that structure. Sheepies love the things. It’s a fine line that must be learned. Run your finger along the filet to find the remaining small bones and cut them out with a v-cut. It’s flavor even allows it to be successfully substituted for crab meat in recipes. Sheepshead tend to be on pilings in the deeper water sections of the bridge, so that is where you should start your search. So, let’s try to keep it that way, by only taking as much as we need. Leaders should be shorter than you might use with other species, so you can better feel the light bites. However, as summer nears, they will become more difficult to target. You should break off the large claw so as to reduce the chance of a sheepshead grabbing it and stealing your bait. These teeth are one of the distinguishing characteristics between them and Black Drum, the only species they could likely be confused with. When fishing rock piles or oyster bars use as light of a weight as you can and still get the bait down to where the fish are. You need to have an assortment of weights on hand so that you can adapt to varying currents and depths. Has anyone fished on the Steinhatchee reef? Sign up for FREE to receive the latest saltwater fishing videos, tutorials, product reviews, and fishing product discounts! Some spots will have deeper water very close to shore but many will not. Your hook selection will be one of the most important aspects of your entire setup to catch sheepshead. I hate fishing. Remember, older structure is better. We found the bait that works best to catch only GIANT SHEEPSHEAD! Drive your boat, or kayak, up next to the pilings and crush some barnacles into the water. How to Catch Sheepshead How To Chum & Fish Whitebait For Endless Strikes! On the right piece of structure you can stumble upon great concentrations of larger sheepshead that have not been picked over by the swarms of shore anglers. Sheepshead are distinctive looking fish that live in marine waters on the east coast. Often you will hear anglers refer to them as convict fish, sheeps, sheephead, sheepshead seabream, and southern sheeps. . Save 30% And Put An End To Your Monthly Charges. But don’t wait too long or he will chew the bait off and spit the hook. In fact, at times, they can be quite finicky about which baits they will take. Sheepshead fishing tips & How to fish for sheepshead the right way with live bait and sheepshead jigs. Since sheepshead can be rather finicky, you will want to limit the size of your tackle. However, if the shrimp is larger than about 1.5 inches, break it into 2 or more pieces and rig the pieces it a similar way. Sheepshead make for a good firm white filet that tastes great. Catch a sheepshead. I have made that mistake several times over the years. 10 Sheepshead Tips and Tricks. Great information and well organized! Common methods include hand lines, spinning tackle and … I hope this can be of help to the sheepshead fisherman. Inshore and nearshore gas rigs are other perfect places to catch sheepshead as the fish start to stack up when the spawn nears. Our buddy Yano Serra of Coden, Alabama, guides and fishes Mobile Bay and its surrounding waters year-round. In the not so distant past, Gulf Coast anglers eschewed the sheepshead as unworthy of keeping, relegated to the category of “trash” fish. That, and the fact that they are so tasty! ‘Scraping’ is a little-used, effective method for catching sheepshead. He offers some advice when it comes to fishing sheepshead in December. Since sheepshead can be rather finicky, you will want to limit the … Run your hook through them 2 or 3 times and try to completely cover your hook. Fiddler crabs are widely considered to be the best bait to catch sheepshead. Line and Leaders for Sheepshead. Audio Fishing Guide. 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. A Carolina rig with a #1 hook seems to work well as it generally places the bait down near the bottom where most of the sheepshead hang out.