Make the best of those nasty cold fronts
What better way to celebrate our first real cold front then to sit down to a sheepshead dinner?
For those of you who enjoy catching and eating sheepies, you know what I’m talking about. There’s something that clicks in my mind every fall when temperatures drop into the low 50s — its time to catch some sheepshead.
During our last cold front over the Halloween weekend, I had just that thought. It was Sunday morning and I had no fishing charters due to the strong winds and cold weather. After a cup of coffee, I decided to check a snook spot I know of where they congregate as water temps drop. After a close inspection, I found that the snook had not yet arrived, although a big school of keeper-size sheepies had. I immediately thought of fiddler crabs.
That was all it took. I rode home and rounded up the family to go catch fiddler crabs. My wife, Bekka, and 4 year-old daughter Isabel, put on their rubber boots and off we went in search of fiddlers. During our trek through the mangroves, we managed to find a small opening where no tress were growing. In this sandy area, we spotted the small fiddlers out sunning themselves, the males raising their large claws up and down. There must have been a hundred of the little guys congregated out there unaware of our presence. It looks as it the ground was moving. Quickly, I grabbed a bucket and we ran out into the middle of them and started grabbing. After putting a few dozen into the bucket, we decided to head home and eat some lunch and save the crabs for later in the day.
After lunch and a good nap, it was time to go sheepherding. We arrived at the spot and surprisingly, had it all to ourselves. With the popularity of fishing in our area, fishing from land is hardly ever a thing you get to yourself. But we had it this day and that was great.
Upon dropping the first crab in the water, we had a bite. You could see the fish down below hanging around the pilings. Every bait we dropped, the sheepies would swarm to it and almost fight each other to eat the crab. They were hungry.
Eventually, we had 10 nice-sized sheepies in a 5-gallon bucket destined for the fillet table. I paused to smoke a cigarette and take in the whole experience. The cool wind gently pressed against my face as I watched my wife reeling in another fish and my daughter playing in the bait bucket.
Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that just make sense — spending time with the family, catching fish and just being outdoors. What a great place we live in. Florida.