Fishing March 1, 2015

February ends with the beginning of sheepshead season

Well, it’s that time again— The sheep herding has begun.

Respectable numbers of fish are being reported throughout our region. Most of the nearshore reefs are holding fish as well as any other rock pile in the bay and in the shallows of the Gulf of Mexico. Even the local fishing piers are reporting sold numbers of fish being seen and caught.

I’m finding the bite in depths of 10-20 feet of water over artificial reefs and rock piles. Dropping live shrimp on a knocker rig is resulting in sheepies up to 7 pounds with most being 3 pounds. Limits of fish are attainable although if you’ve ever filleted sheepies you know that cleaning a limit will take some time. Keep your knife sharpener close by.

Mixed in with the sheepshead are mangrove snapper, flounder, black drum and Key West grunts. All of these species fall neatly into place in a cooler full of sheepshead as well as into hot grease.

When in need of a break from catching sheepshead, I’m switching tactics over to jig fishing. With water temps back on the rise, small jigs tipped with shrimp are resulting in pompano, bluefish, ladyfish and black drum. Fishing along beaches and/or deeper grass flats is where this bite is. The blues and ladies provide great light tackle action. The pompano also are a great adversary on light tackle and they are a delicacy on the plate.