Just Reel Fishing Charters: Anna Maria Island Fishing Report January 24, 2024

Head to docks and piers for sheepshead, black drum and redfish


For yet another week, Anna Maria Island anglers are experiencing back-to-back cold fronts causing wind and plenty of rough seas.

Luckily, species tolerant to the cold conditions such as sheepshead, redfish and black drum are available to be caught as long as you’re willing to get out there and brave the elements. Live shrimp as bait works well to attract all three species to the hook.

Land-bound anglers are trying their chances by fishing around the local fishing piers as well as the bridges. The attraction here, especially for the sheepshead is an abundance of barnacle encrusted pilings. Sheepshead love nibbling on barnacles. Some anglers will even so as far as scraping the pilings to release the barnacles into the water as a form of chumming. This gets the sheepies whipped into a frenzy as they vigorously start feeding on the barnacles settling on the sea bottom. 

Anglers are then able to place a nice piece of shrimp or a fiddler crab down among the sheepies in hopes of getting a bite. And don’t think of this commotion won’t attract attention. Black drum and redfish will most definitely come over to see what’s going on, creating an opportunity for the angler to hook into one of them among the sheepshead.

For anglers venturing in the boat, fishing areas such as bridges and piers can be good, but most are fishing over wrecks and reefs to get a bite. Live shrimp as bait will suffice combined with a weighted rig to get the bait down around the structure on the bottom. For many instances, targeting these sheepshead can be quite easy as they seem to be more comfortable in their surroundings than say the sheepies under a fishing pier that can see people standing above them all day long.

This being said, the need to be tricky with tactics such as chumming is usually not required. Most likely in these scenarios, the angler will solely catch sheepshead not black drum and redfish like the angler fishing from land, but the abundance of sheepies makes up for the lack of variety.

On my Just Reel charters, I’m catching numerous redfish and black drum while fishing around rocks and docks. Casting pieces of fresh-cut shrimp in these areas is yielding many hookups on these two species. Sheepshead are also in the mix although the reds and black drum are dominating the bite. 

Fishing along the beaches is yielding action. Again, redfish and black drum are being caught as well as sheepshead with the addition of whiting. These large, spawning whiting are measuring 14-16 inches with larger ones mixed in. Lastly, an occasional pompano is being caught while casting along the beaches.