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Sheepies near Wiggins/Question

DodgerDodger Ft MyersPosts: 58 Deckhand
Got out Sunday and headed south of Bonita Beach Rd.  The goal was a few sheepshead and we did pretty well.  Had to sort through a bunch of little guys and small mangroves but brought home 3 for the pan.  Best bite about 30 min. before and after high tide.
Question...having trouble getting my son to hook up with the little bait stealers (small sheepies, mangs).  Any tips on getting him more hook ups?  Right now we are using really small circle hooks and 15 lb flouro leaders. He's struggling to catch fish and getting frustrated.



  • 1outlaw1outlaw Naples FLPosts: 1,377 Officer
    Change to a J hook so he can actually do a hook set? 
    Jason :USA
  • MulletMaster239MulletMaster239 Southwest FloridaPosts: 315 Deckhand
    Not sure what you are using for bait but you could try wrapping it to the hook with elastic sewing thread. Works great when fishing with oysters for sheepshead and drum and I get a very good hookup rate with the circle hooks. You can also try downsizing the bait. And if you’re not already, use a loop knot on the circle hook so that it can rotate freely.

    Wait for the line to start moving before reeling tight, if there’s just a quick tap on the line the fish likely doesn’t have the hook in it’s mouth at that point. The good thing about circle hooks is that if the fish sucks in the bait and hook and tries to spit the hook back out, the hook catches on due to the design

    They really aren’t the easiest fish to hook, especially the below size requirement sheepshead. 
  • AlwaysLearningMoreAlwaysLearningMore Posts: 155 Deckhand
    I would change him to a small, sharp, thin-wire j-hook.  No need for a mighty hook set.
  • DodgerDodger Ft MyersPosts: 58 Deckhand
    Great tips!  I will try them next time.

    Thank you!
  • sixstring09sixstring09 Posts: 66 Deckhand
    My go to bait for sheepies is fiddler crabs.
  • bocaboybocaboy CentralPosts: 5 Deckhand
    Try an owner 1/0 gorilla light hook
  • DodgerDodger Ft MyersPosts: 58 Deckhand
    Thanks again.  Do you catch your own crabs or buy them at bait shops?  
  • FisheadFishead EnglewoodPosts: 2 Greenhorn
    You can catch your own crabs. You can grab the small “mud crabs” by looking around under rocks etc at low tide. They are a good bait. Or you can net, trap, or grab fiddler, like on Mangroves and 1flats. Personally, I’m buying fiddlers, and may grab some mud crabs to boot. Good luck! 
  • PhlypperPhlypper Posts: 79 Deckhand
    I have watched sheeps eat while snorkling and diving. Particularly with small crabs, I have watched them snatch them, crush them, spit them out, and then go back in for the softer parts. And they do this faster than it took you to read this. 

    Personally, I try not to set the hook with the bump, but wait for the line to get heavy. This technique requires the angler to keep the line tight. You may want to try using light jigheads, or tying drop-shot rigs, to keep the line tighter. Also, if the circle hooks are too small, I find they do not work too well. If going small, I stick to J-hooks. 
  • FIT_HockeyFIT_Hockey Posts: 11 Deckhand
    Great advice on here... Kids love to set the hook, give him a small J hook!  At least till he gets the hang of the bite.
  • DodgerDodger Ft MyersPosts: 58 Deckhand
    Update...took my son, daughter and wife out Sunday fishing Sheepshead near Wiggins.  Caught a bunch all on Gorilla Light size 1 J hooks.  I hardly even fished because I was baiting hooks and taking off fish!  Great advice from all on changing the hooks.  Now we just need to work on catching keepers but it looks good for the future!

    Thank you!
  • cowpencowpen Posts: 13 Greenhorn
    My go to bait for sheepies is fiddler crabs.

    There's only one sheepshead bait better than fiddlers. Bloodworms.
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