What's hot?: Getting anything to bite lately has been a real chore. But thankfully, there are sheepshead and black drum willing to give you a pull even on the most frigid days. That's not to say drum and sheepshead have been hot by any stretch of the imagination. But if you're at the right bridge on the right tide, the action can be good enough to make you forget how cold it is.
Tactics: Anchoring your boat close enough to the bridge's fenders or pilings allows you to scrape barnacles into the water, creating chum to help the bite. Prior to the cold spell, it was easy to chum the sheepshead into a frenzy as they would come right to the surface awaiting free barnacles to drift their way. Now that the water temperature is down, they are reluctant to come off of the bottom. Vary the weight according to the strength of the tide. Use only enough to hold your bait to the bottom. Or if you see fish move toward the source of the chum, reel up and hold your bait right in front of them.
Tip: Although sheepshead have been willing to cooperate, they are moving slowly with the cold water, making it difficult to feel the bite. Placing your sinker on a short dropper below your hook will help feel the bite better as well as position your bait right in front of the targets' noses. Also, using a 10-pound braided line with a light-tipped rod allows you to detect even the faintest of bites.
Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at (727) 692-5868 or via e-mail [email protected]