We fished the near shore artificial reefs off Sarasota today looking for sheepshead. Anchoring over structure in about 30 feet, crewman Peter rapidly caught the first convict fish, a nice medium sized fish. A fairly steady bite of reef fish ensued including a variety of grunts and mangrove snapper. Some of the Key West grunts were large enough to fillet and ended up in the box. The mangos were smallish, but a couple were keeper size.
The sheepshead bite was intermittent. We put half a dozen (or I should say Peter put half a dozen) sheepies into the box, all in the 16 inch to 17 inch range. I thought I had learned to deal with these bait stealers over the years, including actually trying to anticipate the hit. I have caught my fair share, but not today. Man, did they wipe me out. Time after time, after a hit, I ended up with an empty hook. To save me from total embarrassment, one sheepie decided to let me have the pleasure of his company and into the cooler he went. I think it is pretty rude of these fish to have developed into such proficient and thieving bait gluttons. I think it should also be considered a bit uncouth for a crewmember, who has never caught a sheepshead before, to so thoroughly show me up.
We fished 1/0 circle hooks using ½ ounce weights on fish finder rigs. Small shrimp and or sections of shrimp were used as bait – and I went through dozens of shrimp. We did end up with a nice variety of good tasting reef fish for the table.