What's hot: Sheepshead are ganging up around the bay, the beginning of a long stretch when these tasty porgies are easily acquired by local anglers on the flats and on every craggy structure.
Tackle and techniques: Medium heavy spinning tackle is adequate, with a 2-foot leader of 20- to 30-pound fluorocarbon leader and a size 1 or 1/0 extremely sharp hook. Add weight in split shot increments with the minimum necessary to sink a bait to where the fish are located. Tough to catch on lures, the best choices for sheepshead are live or fresh dead shrimp, fiddler crabs or blood worms.
Locating sheepshead is as simple as prospecting docks and bridges, but many of these fish will be found around oyster bars or on the shallow grass flats this time of year. The technique is simple: Get baits right to where they are, whether up against a piling or on oyster bars. Let the baits lie still and keep a tight line. They have tough mouths so when you feel one swimming with your bait, set the hook.
Filleting takes practice but for boneless cooking pieces, cut out a narrow strip of meat down the center of the fillet to remove a line of small bones. Cut the fillets into small chunks, dip in egg then flour and fry in hot oil. Flip several times and remove when the flour turns a golden brown.
Neil Taylor charters kayak fishing trips in the Tampa Bay area and can be reached at strikethreekayakfishing.com or (727) 692-6345.