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By BRENT GASKILL
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 14, 2001
Many people laugh when I tell them we are going sheepshead fishing -- until they hook one and realize how much fun they are to catch.
Sheepshead provide a great target in winter. Their willingness to bite can save the day when the water is cold and other fish are sluggish. Their food quality is excellent and well worth the difficulty in cleaning them.
Finding sheepshead is not difficult. They eat crustaceans and hang around docks, pilings, bridges, piers, rock piles, oyster bars and anywhere else crabs, shrimp and barnacles hide. Put your bait on bottom and wait for the distinct sharp jab of a sheepshead bite. Don't strike on the first peck. Wait until you feel the weight of the fish moving off before you set the hook.
While waiting for a recent charter client to arrive, I took advantage of an early morning low tide and scraped barnacles and oysters off the dock pilings into a bucket. My clients thought it was funny that I was bringing along a bucket of rocks for bait. When we arrived at our fishing hole, I used a pair of pliers to open the oysters and showed my clients how to thread the meat on a small hook and lower it to the bottom. As they fished, I kept mashing the other barnacles and shells with the pliers and sprinkling them over the side as chum. It did not take long to get the bite started, and my clients were rewarded with a 7 1/2-pound sheepshead.
- Brent Gaskill charters the Summer Vacation. Call (727) 867-1751.