What's hot: The winter migration of sheepshead is under way. While they spend most of the year around bridge pilings, jetties and oyster bars, they move into the gulf to spawn. Some fish are huge — 8-10 pounds.
Where to look: The largest concentrations off north Pinellas and Pasco are on artificial reefs 3-10 miles offshore, though some have been seen as far as 25 miles. Bigger schools are in 18-40 feet. Spawning aggregations typically range from the bottom to just more than halfway up the water column.
Tactics: Use a light spinning rod with 15-pound line and long section of 25-pound test monoleader. Add a slip sinker rig with a half-ounce weight, small swivel and No. 1 hook. Shrimp and fiddler crabs work, but crabs net fewer trash fish. Most strikes come with the bait on the bottom — even when you can see fish up higher.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at (727) 944-3474.