If you read my reports on a consistent basis, you know I preach about how nothing out preforms scaled sardines, especially when it comes to snook fishing in the winter months. Well, this winter that hasn’t been the case, for me anyway.
I never thought, I would say this but lately, “Shrimp is king!”
I started noticing this in late December and can attribute it to one thing. Some of the areas I fish are frequented by fishing guides who bombard the area with scaled sardine live-bait chum. My theory is the snook have gotten their fill.
Yeah, I was still getting up early and going out to catch bait, but on the way to the boat ramp, I would stop at the bait shop and buy medium-sized shrimp for insurance. Boy, has it paid off! There were days when snook wouldn’t even touch a live-bait but pounced on a shrimp. Then I noticed when other guides are in the same area fishing with scaled sardines, we’re catching two to three fish to their one.
So, I’m hooked on shrimp for now and until baitfish become more prevalent, I’m done with throwing the cast net at the crack of dawn.
Other benefits of fishing with shrimp: getting a jump on other guides. Lately, I’ve been starting my charters at 7AM. This puts me in prime fishing areas a good hour before anyone else. Not only that, shrimp are the Sara Lee of baits: everything likes them!
The western shoreline of Tampa Bay that hugs St. Petersburg is a fish smorgasbord right now. I’m catching snook and redfish side by side. Trout have been a lot more difficult to pinpoint due to the fluctuation in water temperature, but when you locate one, you’ll catch many.
One species I don’t spend very much time on is sheepshead. However, the next couple of months is their spawning season, so now is an excellence time to target them. Residential dock pilings, bridge pilings and artificial reefs attract sheepshead. Sandy potholes on grass flats are also a good place to target sheepshead particularly during the spawn.
Shrimp and fiddler crabs are an excellent choice of bait for sheepshead. Another bait that sheepshead gurus tend to use are barnacles. If you’re fishing from a boat, take a shovel so you can scrape barnacles off the pilings as you fish. Scrape some into a bucket also and put a small piece on your hook for bait. That’s right, sheepshead love to eat barnacles.
As for solid hookups. It been said, the best way to catch sheepshead is to set the hook before you feel the bite!
One bonus to sheepshead fishing on artificial reefs right now is the abundance of mangrove snapper. To get both fish to become active start a chum slick. I like to chum with pieces of shrimp that I’ve frozen from previous trips. The cool thing is, you’re likely to go back and forth catching sheepshead one bite and mangrove snapper the next.
Usually, I get too busy to write fishing reports as often as I’d like, so, if you’re interested in seeing my most recent post, please like my, Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.