Cold water has fishing in sort of slow motion. Middle bay temperatures (Gandy area) are holding in the 54-56 degree range. During this time of year the stalking of large snook and redfish take a back seat to finesse fishing and trying to figure out when to set the hook on those pesky but tasty sheepshead. The trick to hooking sheepshead consistently is setting the hook before they bite Ö or so it seems. The most effective technique is when you begin feeling them nibble on the bait, slowly begin to pull up and see if the tip of the rod starts bending. If it feels heavy, set it. If not, let it drop. When using live shrimp, I prefer a jig head heavy enough to drop to the bottom. Once it hits bottom, crank it up a crank or two until you find the sweet spot. Another technique that works if you know trout are in the area is to slowly drag the jig head across the bottom, then let it sit. Then do it again. When you do this, the jig head stirs up the sand and bumps into rocks and oysters, making your shrimp stand out. Leave the skin on sheepshead and cook on a grill over medium heat on aluminum foil. Season to taste, put a slice of butter on each filet. Cook until the edges of the skin curl, dabble brown sugar lightly over the cooked meat. Close the lid for enough time to glaze the brown sugar. Itís delicious!
Tim Whitfield can be reached at (813) 714-0889 or [email protected]