As we progress through February, sheepshead numbers increase

Fishing around Anna Maria Island remains good for targeting sheepshead as greater numbers of fish are showing up daily. 

Fishing structure — piers, bridges, wrecks, reefs and rock piles — are providing limits of fish for determined anglers who use shrimp as bait. If you run across fish that are finicky, try tantalizing them with a fiddler crab or sand flea. 

Moving to the grass flats is proving to be quite good for spotted sea trout. Although these fish are still catch-and-release, it’s worthwhile to spend a couple of hours drifting over your favorite grass flat and casting some soft plastics on a jig head. While doing this, you may also be rewarded with a pompano bite here and there, as well as some mackerel, ladyfish or bluefish. Fishing shrimp along the beaches is working well for whiting, black drum and flounder. The same applies while fishing at the local piers. Moving offshore, amberjack seem to be a mainstay for anglers looking to bend a rod. Also while offshore, you can expect red grouper and many different snappers including lane, mangrove and yellowtail.

On my own Southernaire fishing charters, my clients are hooking into numerous sheepshead. Fishing over structure — such as reefs and wrecks — is resulting in limits of sheepies with some topping 5-pounds. When targeting the sheepshead, mangrove snapper and Key West grunts are showing up on the hook. 

While fishing around docks with live shrimp as bait, we’re hooking into numerous black drum and catch-and-release redfish and flounder mixed in. 

Lastly, during the higher stages of the tide, I’m drifting and jigging over deep grass flats. Casting a jig head combined with a soft plastic is resulting in many catch-and-release trout for my clients as well as ladyfish, jack crevalle and a few pompano.