Fish Tales sig

Inconsistent weather has made it difficult to pattern fish recently.

Seatrout traditionally are the go-to fish this time of year for many inshore anglers; however, finding those quality-sized trout has been a bit unreliable. Redfish can be caught on the pretty days with a good tide but those have been few and far between. That’s why sheepshead gets the nod for an angler’s best bet this week.

What the sheepshead may lack in style points it more than makes up for in table fare. Considered to be one of the best eating fish in our local waters, the sheepshead feeds before, during and after cold fronts. It can be found living under wind protected docks, heavily schooled around bridges and jetties and even occasionally sight casted to on those picture-perfect days poling the flats.

Options for bait range from shrimp, small crabs, pieces of bigger crabs and barnacles. Small hooks are necessary due to their small mouth. Light to medium action rods should be used with really no more than 15-pound braided line. The bite is often quite subtle and a heavier rod with a stiff tip doesn’t allow you to get a good feel for it.

Sheepshead enthusiasts can often be seen scraping barnacles off of bridge pilings in order to get the sheepshead chummed up beneath the boat. Cutting a handful of shrimp into small pieces and dropping them around the pilings on a slower tide accomplishes the same thing. Anglers targeting sheepshead around docks will find that a small split shot or very small egg sinker will help to hold your bait in place.

The daily bag limit for sheepshead is eight with a 12-inch minimum size. The sheepshead season is open year-round and can be caught hook and line obviously, as well as spear, gig, cast net and seine.

Tyson Wallerstein can be reached at To get a fish photo in the paper, send the photo along with your name, when and where it was caught to or mail it to Tampa Bay Newspapers, 9911 Seminole Blvd., Seminole, FL 33772.