Sheepshead – My love hate relationship!

I have been fishing Florida’s Shores for over 25 years now.  I have learned many things,  and have many things yet to learn.  I have developed techniques and found fish that I love to catch.  But there is one fish that I have grown to “Love to Hate”

The Sheepshead!

The Sheepshead is one of my favorite fish to eat, and I have been known to call it “the poor mans lobster”.  Its diet consists almost exclusively of shellfish, and just like us, fish are what they eat.  They are also quite a good fight for their size.  They have a broad flat shape that gives them quite a bit of tugging power.  But the Sheepshead can be one of the most frustrating fish to catch.

There is a saying I hear all the time from old timers

“With Sheepshead, you have to set the hook before you feel the bite”

They are master bait thieves, they can clean a hook with out the anger even knowing the fish was ever there.  They also have quite strong teeth and a hard mouth that makes for a VERY difficult hook set.  There will also be many days where you can see literally hundreds of Sheepsheads around a pier, and not a single one of them will eat any bait you offer them.

SheepsheadOn a recent trip I was able to catch the keeper size fish in this picture.  That day I used 3 dozen fiddler crabs and only caught about 6 Sheepsheads, most of the bellow keeper size.

The one keeper I was able to bring home was dinners main course for my wife and me.  It was one of the best dinners I have had this year!

So if you are looking for a challenging fish to catch, and have the patients to deal with the difficulties that Sheepshead present, I HIGHLY recommend this fishery!

Blog Post by: Dan Hagan – Chief Editor