What's hot: Sheepshead can keep anglers busy rebaiting hooks. On a sunny, cold day, anglers can always find an out-of-the-wind dock or rock jetty to catch sheepshead. There are plenty of docks and residential canals that hold good numbers of sheepshead ready to take a piece of frozen shrimp, sand flea or fiddler crab. They are tough-skinned and hard to fillet but have white, full-bodied meat.
Techniques: Use a sensitive-tipped rod, preferably with braided line and 15- to 20-pound fluorocarbon leader. Small No. 1 or 1/0 circle hooks work best, because when fish turn and run with bait, they hook themselves rather than stealing the bait. Use pieces of shrimp rather than a whole shrimp or oysters, and green mussels work, too.
Tip: Get extra oysters or green mussels from bridge pilings using a shovel and bucket. Crush them with a hammer and use a handful at a time to chum up the fish. Present baits using just enough weight to get it down and a small enough hook to hide it in the bait. Try an electric filet knife on sheepshead; it goes through their thick skin and bones more easily.
Jackie Otto can be reached at Betts Fishing Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 518-7637.