What's hot: Sheepshead are moving into the gulf to spawn. This is when you have a shot at catching a sheepshead of more than 5 pounds. They hang over rock piles on the outside of Egmont Key, most markers near the shipping channel and the dropoff along the edge of the shipping channel. Most breeders are from 4 to 7 pounds. The best way to locate them is to drift over the rocks and look for them schooling on the edge. When fishing the edge of the shipping channel, target areas that have a hard bottom.
Tackle: It's best to use a 20-pound line and a 30-pound leader. A 1/0 hook will work in most areas. Go smaller if you cannot get a hookup. Chum the areas where you see fish with small pieces of cut shrimp. This puts them in the feeding mood and pulls them away from the rocks. Use a piece of cut shrimp for bait and free-line it into the area you chummed. When the current is strong, add a small weight to get bait near the fish.
Pro tip: Sheepshead are fun to fight, but the best reason for catching them is the dinner table. Sheepshead are one of the best-tasting fish that swim in our waters.
Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 347-1389.