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Captains corner: Fishing the bottom near Sunshine Skyway Bridge produces sheepshead, Spanish mackerel

What's for dinner: Head to the south end of Tampa Bay, and try fishing around the Skyway Bridge. Recently, Daniel Hodge, Bob McCue, Floss McCue, and her son, Mike, caught plenty of sheepshead and Spanish mackerel for a family feast.

Sheepshead gather around bridge pilings, fenders and rock piles. Hodge hooked a keeper early on but the fish never made it into the boat. Hodge and Floss McCue eventually put monster sheepshead in the box.

The Spanish mackerel were eating cut bait presented on the bottom for the sheepshead. It happened too many times to call it a fluke. In fact, after the first mackerel was brought aboard, none of the deployed floating baits were hit. All the mackerel were caught on the bottom.

Rigging up: All four anglers used the same rig, which consisted of a ¼-ounce jig head with a 2-foot 30-pound fluorocarbon leader. The rig is simple and effective. First, the jig head rig is more sensitive than a typical bottom rig. Second, with the clean water in the bay right now, the fluorocarbon leader is harder for fish to see.

Baiting up: Shrimp, cut into small pieces, and fiddler crabs were producing. The mackerel loved the shrimp as did the sheepshead. But what brought the bigger sheepshead to the box was the fiddler crabs. These small crabs are hard to get this time of year, so the trick is to get them during the summer when they're abundant and freeze them.

Rick Frazier runs Lucky Dawg Charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 510-4376.

Captains corner: Fishing the bottom near Sunshine Skyway Bridge produces sheepshead, Spanish mackerel 03/24/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 24, 2011 6:31pm]
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