Fishing Report February 21, 2016

Sheepshead fishing remains the targeted species in local waters

Sheepshead fishing around Anna Maria Island is on the verge of becoming unhinged.

Increasing herds of sheepies are invading our local waters especially around the residential docks, canals and the local fishing piers on the north end of the island. The rock piles, reefs and wrecks in both Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico are also host to large numbers of these zebra-striped fish.

On my own fishing trips with Just Reel fishing charters, we are targeting, yeah, you guessed it, sheepshead. Not only do these fish put up a great fight on light tackle, they are superb table fare. That being said, be selective on the sheepies you keep for dinner. I prefer fish 2-4 pounds as opposed to 6-8 pounds. The meat of the larger sheepies tends to become a little tougher and not quite as sweet.

In addition to sheepshead, I am catching mangrove snapper with some regularity. A lot of times I’m catching them mixed in with the sheepshead bite. Although I am also finding areas of structure that are solely holding snapper. Most of the mangoes coming over the gun whale are 12-14 inches, although fish up to 18 inches are not unheard of.

Finally, to add a little variety, I’m finding pompano and permit along area beaches, especially right along the shoreline. Jigging with hot pink or chartreuse jigs tipped with shrimp is proving to be the most productive. While targeting pomps and permit, we’re also hooking into Spanish mackerel, whiting, flounder and jack crevalle.