Tides   

Where can I catch Sheepshead in Tampa Bay (or anywhere)

Dear Captain"Where's a good place to target sheepshead and are blue crabs good bait?"

The Skyway main span pilings, rocks and dolphins (those large round bumpers) are excellent for targeting sheepshead. These are structure-loving fish and the idea of fishing bridges and sea walls and oyster bars holds true wherever you might be seeking these challenging and (VERY) tasty target species

In the case of fishing bridges (or any similar structure) is that you have to bounce from one piling to another until you find a group of fish. Pieces of blue crab are a great bait for sheepshead. It just has to be small pieces. I would bring shrimp also. Barnacles also are excellent along with fiddler crabs. I am a firm believer that no matter what species of fish you are targeting, the more types of baits you have the better chance you have of catching more fish. They are no different then humans, they don't always eat the same thing and do like variety in there food.

Sheepshead 101

I also use many different rigs when fishing for sheepshead; like a drop shot rig. Here is a tip for winter sheepshead fishing. If you get out during a spring tide (2 to 3 days before and after a new or full moon), the negative low tide will leave many docks, bridges and other structure pilings exposed. You will see many of them covered with barnacles and some with an abundant amount of crabs and fiddler crabs. Make note of the ones with many fiddler crabs. Also look for bald spots along the pilings covered with barnacles. You can bet those bald spots are caused by sheepshead feeding there when the tide covers that piling. Go back to the pilings you find like that and fish them when the tide is high. Just make sure you get your bait suspended in the area where the barnicles are being chewed up. These is where a drop shot rig excels. The tide does not have to be moving strong for good sheepshead fishing. They will feed on 1st quarter and last quarter tides very well.

Tackle is Important for Sheepshead

Definitely use a fluorocarbon leader, the lightest possible. Use a cutting point hook rather then a needle point hook. I find the penetration is much better. The cutting point seems to get through the sheepshead's hard mouth easier. Chum with some shrimp, crab or barnacles. These will help you get a bite, fire them up and keep them eating. Last time I fished for sheepshead, I fished over near the Shell Key Shoal cut. I caught about 12 sheepshead in the 3 to 5 lb range and I used shrimp on a jig head. The sheepshead were moving along the shoals sandy edge near the deeper water. Any of the inshore reefs, wrecks or rubble should have a good sheepshead bite at this time of year also.

Here's a great article about sheepshead fishing, called "How to Catch Sheepshead". Give it a read! There's a lot of information there as well that should help you catch more sheepshead!

Let us know how you do!

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Captain David M. Rieumont



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