© St. Petersburg Times, published February 16, 2003
With weather too unpredictable offshore, bottom fishing the bay has been productive.
Though you may find a few up the bay, the migration of sheepshead to the gulf has started. Jetties, passes, marinas and bridges near the gulf are best. This time of the month they tend to travel in huge schools, and if you find one you'll likely find many. On a trip last week we caught more than 50 using Asian green mussels and shrimp.
To tip the odds in our favor, we used 20-pound line around the heavy structure, and a No. 1 hook prevented them from stealing bait.
Because of the heightened security alert, some of the favorite sheepshead bridges are, at least temporarily, off limits to boaters. The Howard Frankland, Meisner and Sunshine Skyway are among those off limits to boaters.
Look for other bottom feeders' appetites to heat up with water temperatures. Though many of the mangrove snapper along the rocky edges of the shipping channel are undersized, there are a few bigger ones. Some sheepies, black sea bass, juvenile grouper and the ever-present Key West grunts keep rods bent.
-- Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.