For the kids: Sheepshead fishing can be fun for the entire family, and many times children will outfish the adults. The action has jump-started with passing cold fronts that have delivered winter cold-water fishing conditions in which sheepshead thrive. The good news is that the bite will only get better through winter and into early spring.
For the parents: Fishing for sheepshead can be simple even if they are considered top bait stealers, but kids seem to pick up the knack for setting the hook the quickest. Rig family rods with light braided line for added sensitivity, 20-pound test leaders, small stout hooks and just enough lead to hold the bait in the feeding zone. Shrimp is the easiest bait to use, but fiddler crabs, barnacles, oysters and green mussels might work better. The best news is that you don't even need a boat as piers, bridges and residential docks make up some of the best fishing grounds.
Unusual catch: Mike Hill from California recently landed a hogfish on hook and line while fishing with his son Kobe inside Tampa Bay on a rock pile near the Sunshine Skyway bridge. The fish ate a live shrimp intended for sheepshead. Hogfish are delicious and a favorite target for spear fisherman, but they rarely take a baited hook.
Brent Gaskill runs Summer Vacation Charters out of the St. Petersburg area and can be reached at email@example.com or (727)510-1009.