Categories: Saltwater

The Secrets Of Finding Sheepshead

My grandfather, the late George Moore, rarely fished by the time I came along. Most of my memories of him are shucking oysters on the front porch or watching Mid-South Wrestling. He and I were both big fans of the Junkyard Dog. The few times he accompanied my father and I on fishing trips, it was all about sheepshead.

He would pass up specks, reds and flounder to get to a sheepshead. They were by far his all-time favorite fish. Over the years, I picked up some of his zeal for sheepshead. They are not at the top of my list but I do like to catch them, especially during winter when other fisheries slow down a bit and they seem to get a big hungrier.

Anglers wanting to catch excellent sheepshead need look no farther than the jetty systems soon the coast. These prolific members of the porgy family are thick and can be easy to catch for anglers who know how to target them. Look for calm days with strong tidal movement and target most of your efforts on the inside (channel side) of the jetty wall. These fish are all over the rocks, but the last ½ miles of the jetties going southward typically hold the biggest fish. The fishing is good right now but the “super bite” has not turned on yet. That is when (soon hopefully) an angler could sit in an anchored position and catch 100 fish if he or she wanted. That typically happens in February and early March.

Dead shrimp fished on a ¼-ounce jighead and rigged on a super line like Berkley Fireline is the ticket. Sheepshead fishing is a lot like crappie fishing in freshwater in the winter: they tend to bunch up tightly and prefer hitting at certain depths.  When you get a hit, make sure and mark that spot on your line and fish the exact depth. You will find that you will catch a lot more fish that way.

The bite will typically come in the form of a light thump. If you feel this, whatever you do, make sure and set the hook hard. A sheepshead given time to make more than one thump will steal your bait. Jetties are certainly not the only place to catch sheepshead in local waters. They are abundant in power planet canals both on the intake and outflow side. Any area covered with shell or that has many barnacle-encrusted pilings has serious sheepshead potential as well.

If you are looking to catch something a little different this winter, try sheepshead.

They are not the most popular species out there but they get much respect form me. I think it runs in the family.

Chester Moore, Jr.

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