Sheepshead fishing is fun anytime because sheepshead is an example of a fish species that can be caught year round along all southern coastal areas. A brackish to saltwater species, they are called sheepshead because they have a month full of choppers that more closely resemble those possessed by the mammal than those of a fish. These choppers enable them to feed on one of nature’s most durable critters: barnacles. The habitat of the sheepshead is always in or around barnacle encrusted structures such as bridge piling, large rock formation like jetties, or submerged chunks of concrete rubble. So, when sheepshead fishing an angler must fish these types of structures.
However, the best bait for sheepshead fishing is the fiddler crab. Plus, in keeping with our theme of “do it yourself”, fiddlers can be caught around most coastal marshes, creeks, and ditches. At lower tides, fiddler crab are generally quite abundant, running around looking for their next meal. Most anglers catch them by hand or with some type of small mesh dip net and place them in a bucket. Fiddler crabs are easy to keep alive, they should be damp but do not submerge them in water. Protect the fiddlers for the heat and break off the large oversized claw when ready to use.
If sheedshead fishing from a bridge or pier, get as close to the structure as you can, then let the fiddler drift by. Set the hook quickly and hope the sheepshead does not wrapped himself around the structure. The heavy leader line may provide some protection against the barnacle but after the catch is hauled in, be sure and inspect the leader for abrasion then replace if needed. Sheepshead will normal not bite minnows or mullet, and artificial lures do not appeal to them so why waste the time. Also, sheepshead are a regulated fishery so check your local fishing regulation handbook for limits.
Here’s a tip, try blacken sheepshead fillets. You will need a cast iron flat pan which can be heated to a high temperature, a cooking burner (outdoors because this does create some smoke), unsalted real butter, a bottle of blacken fish seasoning and follow the direction on the bottle from there. You will be shocked just how good this is!
Now check out this article by Daniel Hagen for more on "how to catch sheepshead" then go catch you some.