What's hot: Now is a good time to scout different areas for large numbers of sheepshead. They are moving into the gulf to spawn. Check the docks and rock piles that line a pass. And check the markers, rocky bottom and artificial reefs closest to shore. Look for areas where the water is clear. Idle the boat close enough to see if there are fish hanging near the pilings or swimming around the rocks.
Locations: Some of the best areas for sheepshead have been inside John's Pass, the docks and rocky shore of Blinds Pass, Demens Landing, artificial reefs at the mouth of Tampa Bay and the rock piles at Egmont Key.
Bait: Sheepshead eat crabs, clams, bloodworms, tubeworms and shrimp. Shrimp are easy baits to obtain. Chop the head and tail into small pieces. Then use the center cuts for bait. The small pieces can be used for chum. Throw the small pieces up current of the fish. The scent will put them in a feeding mood. It will also get them to school closer to the boat. The center cuts should be free-lined and cast up current so they drift into the same area you just chummed. If the current is too strong, use a small split shot on the line to help the bait stay where the sheepshead are schooling.
When you see the line start moving or feel a small tug on the rod tip, set the hook. Sheepshead are well-known bait stealers, so pay close attention to your line and rod tip.
Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 347-1389.