Need help on Sheepshead

I've seen reports that Sheepshead were "in" however went out of Homosassa and headed SW with my wife yesterday and tried to target Sheepshead. I drifting using #2 circle hooks w/a knocker rig (half ounce). We tried various spots from 8' to 20' produced only bait fish, perch and puffer. The water was 57 to 58 degrees and flat. Any suggestions would be helpful. Thanks

Replies

  • Lobstercatcher229Lobstercatcher229 Posts: 4,843 Captain
    Docks, pilings, mangrove roots?
  • Doc StressorDoc Stressor Homosassa, FLPosts: 2,366 Captain
    You can't drift and catch sheepshead effectively.

    Find some high rocks from 8'-15' this time of year and anchor up just uptide of cuts between the rocks. Cast back to them using the same 3/4 oz knocker rigs we used for hogfish and snapper. I use a 1/0 thin wire worm hook with a bait holder shank rather than circle hooks (sheepshead are not listed as a reef species). I break the tails off of the shrimp and thread them on the hook from tail to head. If the bite is slow, I'll break the heads off along with a segment of shell to expose some meat. Let the bait sit on the bottom and move it very slowly back toward the boat. Ignore little taps and only set the hook when you feel a firm weight on the line.

    If you hang up on a rock, the thin wire hook will often bend and let you break free. I just bend the hook back into shape and keep fishing unless the point is damaged.

    The sheepies will be staging (forming up into groups) until mid February when they get serious about spawning. Then they gather up in big schools in deeper areas. They are easier to catch when they are staging. They spawn during the full and new moon and during that time they are often not very interested in feeding.
  • mburke001 aka TripleBmburke001 aka TripleB Posts: 1,210 Officer
    Thanks Doc appreciate the advice as always
  • mburke001 aka TripleBmburke001 aka TripleB Posts: 1,210 Officer
    Thank you
  • KeatonBchFisherKeatonBchFisher Posts: 297 Officer
    I will add to this if you find the spot you can also chum a little with fiddler crabs or barnacles if the bite slows down. I do disagree with Doc on ignoring the taps as I usually find that I am baitless after a few taps. I usually reel very slowly and when you feel the taps start to get a little heavier set the hook. If you miss go ahead and reel in and see if you have bait. When the spawn gets going you need deeper water to get them. We do better in 25-40' on rock, wrecks, and man made structure. The bite is pretty decent if you get the right spot which can be pretty small, and the big girls are around in the 8-10# range. If you do catch a big female, think about turning her loose after a photo and keep some of the smaller males.
    Keaton Beach Rental https://www.vrbo.com/780025

    Yankeetown Rental https://www.vrbo.com/619425
  • mburke001 aka TripleBmburke001 aka TripleB Posts: 1,210 Officer
    Thanks KeatonBch
  • Top ContenderTop Contender Posts: 592 Officer
    Hopefully we will have some colder weather to push the red snapper off the rocks and wrecks from 35' to 50' or else there might not be much of chance at catching sheepshead. From Cedar key north they have every piece of structure covered up by the hundreds.
  • mburke001 aka TripleBmburke001 aka TripleB Posts: 1,210 Officer
    Contender, interesting info: curious how cold does the water have to be?
  • kingkong954kingkong954 Posts: 637 Officer
    Hopefully we will have some colder weather to push the red snapper off the rocks and wrecks from 35' to 50' or else there might not be much of chance at catching sheepshead. From Cedar key north they have every piece of structure covered up by the hundreds.

    hey hey hey.... you leave those red snapper alone, ok?... month by month they are getting bigger and bigger. I think I might be able to catch a keeper this year during the season! :wink
  • Doc StressorDoc Stressor Homosassa, FLPosts: 2,366 Captain
    It never gets too cold around here to drive away red snapper. As a deep water fish, they are pretty happy down to 50 degrees or so. Low temperature can drive off their food sources however.

    Back in the old days (early 1980s), red snapper were almost never seen in the Big Bend inside of Middle Grounds. However, we caught 3 of them in 50 ft of water off of Hudson. That was in February with a water temp of 55 degrees. It was so cold that the grouper wouldn't bite. They were the only fish we brought back.

    Here's a picture that Butch took in 50 ft of water off of Crystal River back in August. They were 12" - 13" long back then:
  • SeaJaySeaJay Posts: 40 Greenhorn
    hey hey hey.... you leave those red snapper alone, ok?... month by month they are getting bigger and bigger. I think I might be able to catch a keeper this year during the season! :wink

    I have caught some juveniles this last fall in the 40 and 50 foot range while fishing my normal grouper spots. Legal size , but not big like you find right off Saint Augustine. I hope it doesn't get as bad as Saint Augustine has it. When you go reef fishing over there you spend the first hour or two of fishing weeding through the Red Snapper just to get to the other fish. It's pretty ridiculous.
  • Doc StressorDoc Stressor Homosassa, FLPosts: 2,366 Captain
    Looks like we hijacked a sheepshead thread into a red snapper thread. :grin
  • mburke001 aka TripleBmburke001 aka TripleB Posts: 1,210 Officer
    That would be nice Kingkong as long as good weather coincides with the short season :)
  • mburke001 aka TripleBmburke001 aka TripleB Posts: 1,210 Officer
    Since we "moved over" to red snapper, curious on the rigs; do you use a fish finder rig or a knocker rig for red snapper. I've seen on videos both being used, thanks.
  • Doc StressorDoc Stressor Homosassa, FLPosts: 2,366 Captain
    When they are on the bite, red snapper are ridiculously easy to catch. You can avoid them by using large chunks of bait or large live baits if you're targeting grouper.

    Since we only have them in Federal water, we'll probably only have a week or 10 day season. They should be at or above the 15" size limit when the season starts. You can catch your 2 legal fish in a hurry if you use squid on a 2 hook chicken (dropper) rig.
  • mburke001 aka TripleBmburke001 aka TripleB Posts: 1,210 Officer
    Thanks Doc
  • Rick1-2Rick1-2 HorseshoePosts: 918 Officer
    the only time ive caught sheepshead was at the steinhatchee reef in late march early april but last year there were none, acouple years ago in mid feb that place was loaded with seabass so i plan on trying it next week sat,
    it sure would be nice if we had good weather to go get ars this year didnt get none last year, last year was horrible as far as fishing offshre
  • Top ContenderTop Contender Posts: 592 Officer
    I wouldn't count 100% on those snapper staying around till the season opens, but I've been wrong before. These fish have never been in this close before but we did have a push of snapper back in the 70's, then they disappeared. Then we had a push in 2006 in to 60' but they slowly eased back out deeper. Now since the red tide they have taken over things. But to my knowledge our neighbors to the north and the south aren't seeing the massive numbers in shallow, just a few smalls in 60'+
    When I first started catching them last fall they were around 12-14", now they average 15-17" so they are growing fairly fast. I hope for y'alls sake they hang around during the season but I'd be much happier to have some big weather blow them out and a push of grouper in.

    As far as catching them goes, good luck not catching one. Seriously, if you find a way to not catch them please share cause I can avoid them when they are around. Like piranha...
  • mburke001 aka TripleBmburke001 aka TripleB Posts: 1,210 Officer
    Well I'd like to give them a try: hopefully if I'm around when the season opens
Sign In or Register to comment.