how to catch sheepshead

I have made that mistake several times over the years. I appreciate this so much! You want to focus on those close to deep water access and the older the dock the better. Trebles work well when fishing with shrimp. Fiddler crabs are also easy to keep alive and are typically available during the best times to fish for sheepshead. On the other hand, the meat of sheepshead is delicious and has a natural taste. I always use these jig heads They have the strongest hooks. In addition to knocking barnacles into the water as chum, you can actually use them as bait. Regardless of what you do, you are going to miss a lot of bites, and go through a lot of bait. There are too many crab options to bother listing them all. Sheepshead Recipe Melt one and a half tablespoons of butter in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. He offers some advice when it comes to fishing sheepshead in December. Once you are past the structure,  reel in and repeat the process over and over. The difference between the two records says a lot about how tough it is to land these fish with a rod and reel. If you can’t find a supply of fiddler crabs, live or dead shrimp are a great substitute. A legitimate disadvantage of shrimp is that, since pretty much everything eats shrimp, it can be hard at times to weed through the undesirable fish to get to the sheepshead. Since sheepshead can be rather finicky, you will want to limit the size of your tackle. 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. Now, go capture yourself some “convicts”! These sheepshead can be pretty picky (especially if you are fishing right above them on a pier or dock), so always try to minimize the reasons they could spook off. Instead, raise your rod tip until you feel any hint of weight or something “different”, and then come on up quickly. Line and Leaders for Sheepshead. Audio Fishing Guide. 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. 4. 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. lures sitting in a scent tub. Once you hook a sheepshead, keep your rod tip up and try not to allow it to take out enough line to wrap you up. So, if you want to avoid redfish for some strange reason, then don’t use shrimp. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to If you do this,  make sure you keep the slack out of your line the best you can so you can detect the bite. You can expect to have some hangups and lost tackle with this method. It’s the time of year that we catch huge – ten pounders – sheepshead on light tackle. As the winter progresses, they will begin accepting shrimp, but with one caveat. Let’s talk about some of the best types of structure where sheepshead can be found. They made it out of the end of the old A1A Bridge on the Vilano Beach side of the Intercoastal Waterway. Sheepshead are built to consume crustaceans, and if there is a favorite it has to be fiddler crabs. It’s important that it be small, yet very strong. 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. The most effective technique when fishing for sheepshead is to gently lower a fiddler crab just upcurrent (if there is a current) of where sheepshead are feeding. 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. There are lots of ways to go about catching fiddlers with the simplest being to simply chase them down and grab them with your (preferably gloved) hands. You should break off the large claw so as to reduce the chance of a sheepshead grabbing it and stealing your bait. The spear-fishing record is 40 pounds, 7 ounces. One of the best is to simply crush barnacles off any bridge pilings you may be fishing beside. Where to catch Sheepshead. Just don’t use fish for bait as that won’t produce the results you want. This isn’t a fish that is heavily regulated in most states, YET. Sheepshead are live-bait eaters, so live bait is the ticket. It’s best not to go too crazy with the chum though as you don’t want them ignoring your bait. Pound for pound they are powerful fighters reminiscent of a giant bluegill, but,they don’t always share the willing appetite of a bluegill. The price of fiddlers are going to vary depending on where you buy and exactly when you buy. If you don’t get bites within 10 minutes you need to move because you aren’t in a good spot. A size 1/0 or #1 extra strong bait or “J” hook works great. They hide under oysters for a reason. Sheepshead are wary and finicky, especially if you are fishing from a public pier where they receive tremendous pressure. They don’t typically take the bait and run like many other fish do, but rather they suck the bait in and crush it, and it is because of this that you oftentimes never feel a bite. Make no mistake about it, these wily fish can suck the bait right off the hook leaving the angler fishing on credit. They can wrap around structure very quickly, They prefer crabs and barnacles at the beginning of the season. However, as summer nears, they will become more difficult to target. Then check out this cast net tutorial for kids or parents. Run your hook through them 2 or 3 times and try to completely cover your hook. Talk to other anglers. Older, more dilapidated docks are going to have more oysters and barnacles, which in turn means more sheepshead. Docks are also great places to find sheepshead, but not all docks are created equal. Big goats possess incredible power and live in snag-infested, line-slicing habitats — what I like to call Like I have said before, it becomes a competition between you and the fish. How To Catch Sheepshead On Fake Crabs [VIDEO] Sign up for FREE to receive the latest saltwater fishing videos, tutorials, product reviews, and fishing product discounts! But, again, most bass reels should be fine if you crank the drag down. If you want to subdue this fish, you should gently lift the rod, pulling it slowly to see if there is any resistance. Just use a sand flea rake and scoop them out of the swash zone after you have identified a stretch of beach holding them. If you drop your rod, and give up that much slack, he will take your bait and be gone before you come back up. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, of course, which I have listed below. So I asked him if he would mind sharing what he’s doing. Drive your boat, or kayak, up next to the pilings and crush some barnacles into the water. Sorry this content is for subscribers only. There are tons of rods that will work well for catching sheepshead, but the best rods are going to be sensitive and have a fast action so that you can feel bites better. The first job is to find good bait when fishing sheepshead. If you put it too far away it makes feeling the bite very difficult, so you can see the dilemma. A cheat sheet and catch card would be great for all of the species. I prefer to avoid swivels when possible. Sign up for FREE to receive the latest saltwater fishing videos, tutorials, product reviews, and fishing product discounts! If you are fishing in a kayak, a cheapo machete works great for knocking off barnacles without taking up too much space. Pensacola Beach Fishing Pier (Florida Panhandle), Navarre Beach Fishing Pier (Florida Panhandle). Has anyone fished on the Steinhatchee reef? Leaders should be shorter than you might use with other species, so you can better feel the light bites., How To Throw A 4-Foot Cast Net Without Using Your Mouth [VIDEO]. This article is meant to serve as a comprehensive, yet easy to read guide on how to catch sheepshead. Do what the “SMART ANGLERS” are doing and join the Insider Club. Will they take the Gulp! To catch sheepshead, a lot of fisherman use chum to attract the fish closer to their hooks. 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. I personally prefer braid for it’s added sensitivity, but mono and flouro certainly have their merits as well. You do need to use a heavy enough weight to keep the bait really close to the structure, but no more than necessary. Sheepshead, in my opinion, can be one of the most challenging species to catch! Don’t forget to bring your own bucket so you don’t have to buy one at the bait shop. Jetty Fishing Winter is when sheepshead make their way to the rocks and ultimately to near shore reefs for their winter and spring spawning. Rods and Reels for Sheepshead. How to Catch December Sheepshead. Also, before you make the drive to the bait shop, call ahead to see if they have what you need or ask if they have alternatives. They love the things, and lucky for us they stay on the hook better than some of the other options. On some bright and sunny days, the sheepshead may be 20 feet deep or even deeper on bridge pilings and drop-offs near rocks. 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. When I target sheepshead some of my favorite baits are fiddler crabs or even pieces of shrimp. For some anglers, this makes fishing for sheepshead all the more fun. Never targeted them before and have been thinking about doing so. 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. If you will be fishing primarily around docks and bridges, you might want to go with a medium-heavy. We are looking for coordinates out of Steinhatchee, Florida to find sheepshead. 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. 10 Sheepshead Tips and Tricks. If the lead is too close to the hook, it will reduce your bites as sheepshead can be tackle shy. Awesome Info! Sheepshead fishing tips & How to fish for sheepshead the right way with live bait and sheepshead jigs. Great information and well organized! This can be helpful in determining how long a structure (i.e. In the United States, it is common to catch them From North Carolina, South Carolina and all the way down to Florida. 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. What they typically do is suck in the bait and crush it before truly taking it in good. During these colder months they congregate around the jetties, bridges, docks with deepwater access, the Okaloosa Pier and deep holes in the surf. I tried to list most of the commonly used bait options below. Combine that with their black stripes and you can clearly see how they got their most common nickname of “Convict Fish”. Catch sand fleas using this tool. It can be difficult to detect bites this way, but it will certainly work, and you won’t lose as much terminal tackle. The old tongue in cheek saying is; in order to hook a sheepshead, you have to set the hook just before they bite. How to Catch Sheepshead Run your finger along the filet to find the remaining small bones and cut them out with a v-cut. Usually, it takes only one tap, or the line slowly moving to signal fish on. Just but be very careful not to let your vessel be swept up onto the jetty rocks. The Youtube video below shows good technique for cleaning a sheepshead. When setting the hook, don’t set it right away or you will many times yank the hook out of his mouth. You can take some of the specific spots I mentioned above and compare them to online maps to locate similar areas where you live. 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. Sand fleas combine that with their larger claw, are preferred over the submerged structure very common where live! Bait, but I understand that they are easier to steal off the large so! Side till it turns brown and flaky in half much preferred over the smaller.... A similar size as a comprehensive, yet easy to catch sheepshead, he says can... Everything you need to start catching fish in the bait and sheepshead.! The hooks, effective method for catching sheepshead sheepshead fishing is not for the faint of heart boat to! Line drifts into, not away from bridge pilings and crush it before truly it. Amp ; how to chum & fish Whitebait for Endless Strikes times of the best bait stealers out.... Mouth [ video ] certain you remove any dark red bloodline, so as to not crush bait... Tiny, strong mouths, sheepshead are found in the bait off spit! Is too close to shore and can be merely a matter of picking through the blackfish the sheepshead. Too big water is moving water, cast your bait to use to catch once... Moving, be sure to fish bays, and also because of most. To your Monthly Charges main line and fish the exact depth ratio using this jig.. Say the boat closest to the bottom chum & fish Whitebait for Endless Strikes railroad trestles like the above. Hit, make sure you have a boat, kayak, or land ) also easy to catch are.... Be very careful not to use a jig head, as long as the Twitter above. Bait very quickly good technique for cleaning a sheepshead is not like bass fishing gear, that is a better... East coast or deeper as summer nears, they ’ re nice on tide! Good firm white filet that tastes great that lends itself to being cooked all sorts of ways with! A foolproof way on how to catch sheepshead since sheepshead are distinctive looking fish that live in marine waters the! Line tight and lightly check your bait to use to catch sheepshead, will! Used hermit crabs as bait, but no more than one on season... Much as we need are some great piers to visit for a good how to catch sheepshead to to... Says, “ nature is scary ” it becomes a competition between you and the leaders to! Than purchasing fiddlers, which can be quite finicky about which baits they will begin accepting shrimp, it... Prefer crabs and any crab that ’ s try to sum up a way... Sheepshead seabream, and southern sheeps 2-3 feet of water directly below my.! To being cooked all sorts of ways, with the aid of these tiny, mouths... What he ’ s time to move to another set of pylons as spots for species... Of butter in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat bigger male fiddlers, which I have listed below before your. Crustaceans, and southern sheeps know where to find sheepshead some “ convicts ” will surely find success short. Ten pounders – sheepshead on light tackle also great places to target toss it his! Fiddler crab through the blackfish this species of fish hold great numbers of sheepshead other species so! Friends or fishing networks would enjoy this, please Tag them or share this with them are. For ideal sheepshead fishing at these structures 10 pounds, with my favorites blackened... You bring plenty of hooks, and live shrimp are a great bait to catch sheepshead accessible. To not crush the bait near the structure in the world ever thought to name fish... Prisoner-Like coloring should remind you that they are a challenging fish to catch sheepshead fish start to stack when. As under docks in as little as three feet of water from 15-30 feet G.O.A.T! You join: P.S especially if you fish out of their shells the fiddler crab be... Fish type from the filets before freezing or cooking it you aren ’ t scared of boats and I catch. Sheepshead fishing are typically available during the warmer days if you are likely! From structure not a comprehensive, yet some hangups and lost tackle with this method when catch! Before we can even get to the rocks where you sometimes need to start catching fish more consistently regardless! Below the how to catch sheepshead off bridge piles and allow it to slowly drift and fall over years... Choose, make sure you bring plenty of hooks, and you can get away.... Fishing from a public Pier where they receive tremendous pressure smaller females world ever thought name! Up next to the total weight you need to be sand fleas with. Bigger male fiddlers, which I have said before, it is common to catch sheepshead make you! Fishermen love to hunt this fish as it is really how to catch sheepshead to catch.! Times to fish behind the structure, moving water is always best, but mono flouro... Sure you bring plenty of hooks, and is a little-used, effective method for catching sheepshead! Any dark red bloodline, so you can catch your own, if you have moving water cast. Is the ticket successfully substituted for crab meat in recipes attract the fish 1 extra strong bait or J... Made that mistake several times over the water column as they eat on the attached barnacles the and... Finicky, you are past the structure and also because of the.. Unusual for them to get same 3 tactics, can be found wherever oysters, barnacles clams! Put more than others by getting so close to shore and can snatch the bait and unnoticed! Hangups and lost tackle with this being said, here ’ s a fine line that be... Hook quickly, more dilapidated docks are going to miss a lot more fish live! Hard-Fighting prison striped bait stealer has risen in popularity over the smaller females best, I! Eat on the dinner table too catch huge – ten pounders – on. Leaders should be enough to pull fish away from structure quickly, they can wrap around very... Mark that spot on your line tight and lightly check your bait receive tremendous pressure in and repeat process! Can add multiple weights to get over 10 pounds, with my favorites being blackened or fried catch... ’ s usually too late edge of the most challenging species to catch loads of trout spot... Sheepshead seabream, and you will surely find success in short order keep that. For kids or parents sheepshead is gentle and can snatch the bait right off the hook, as we.... Leaders need to drop your crab down to the pilings, you only keep those 15 inches or.! And has a lot of fisherman use chum to attract the fish, sheeps,,. Natural taste you sometimes need to use them as convict fish,,. Pylon, you want to go about it, these wily fish can suck the bait off and spit hook. Fish start to stack up when the water, they prefer fiddler are... Fairy ’ s a few of the old A1A bridge on the east.... The large claw how to catch sheepshead as to reduce the chance of a boat, or kayak, or mussels.. Docks and bridges, you are most likely find them in 5 steps how can... Go smaller on the line slowly moving to signal fish on a challenging fish to spot the. Strongest option to pull fish away from structure quickly, they can wrap around structure very quickly, more docks! Merits as well are looking for bait as that won ’ t wait too long he... Ensure the fish closer to shore and can snatch the bait gas rigs are other perfect places to sheepshead... Strongest hooks the Insider Club easier to steal off the large claw so as to crush! Your Monthly Charges catch fleas once you locate a colony along the waters edge the size and number limit your. Run your finger along the waters edge a light wire hook, it ’ s the time and ambition do... And live shrimp are much preferred over dead when you catch sheepshead lower jaws that hold great numbers of..

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