Jetty anglers and winter Texans are fans of catching and eating sheepshead, usually caught on live or dead shrimp.
Story by Robert Sloan, for Lone Star Outdoor News
*CORRECTION: In the “Sheepshead on a feed at jetties” article in the Feb. 10, 2023 issue on page 13 of the print edition, the limit on sheepshead was incorrectly noted as 15, however the legal limit is 5. The digital version of this article have been corrected. The text below is the corrected article.
The sheepshead may not be the most glamorous fish in the Gulf of Mexico, however they put up a good fight, are plentiful along the jetties and taste pretty good when grilled or fried.
“You can’t beat them,” said Robert Sanders who, along with his wife, specifically target sheepshead during the winter months. “Right now, there are lots of them along the Port O’Connor jetties and in some of the canals leading into marinas and subdivisions. Most of the time we’ll catch them under corks fishing about 4 feet deep. The best baits are live shrimp. But right now, there aren’t too many live shrimp to be had, so we just use dead shrimp.”
The daily limit on sheepshead is 5 with a 15-inch minimum length limit. One issue people have is that these fish can be difficult to clean.
“You definitely need a knife that’s sharp and strong enough to cut through the tough hide of a sheepshead,” Sanders said. “The best thing to do is to fillet them, then trim off the red meat and you end up with some very tasty meat.”
Mike Barnes has been fishing the jetties along the Texas coast for years, and like a lot of other folks he will box a few sheepshead when nothing else is biting. His favorite tactic is to use a slip cork.
“Sheepshead will often be suspended along the jetties, and very close to the rocks,” he said. “Some days they will be 5 feet deep, and other days the best bite will be 10 to 20 feet deep. That’s why I use a slip cork. I like to fish the jetties and that’s a way to stay on reds, trout and sheepshead just about any time of the year.”
Barnes threads braided line through a cone-shaped float. Next, he ties the tag end of the line to a torpedo weight that has a wire loop on each end. He’ll tie a monofilament leader to the lower end of the sinker. The leader is about 24 inches long. On the tag end of the leader, he’ll tie on a No. 4 treble hook.
“Once I have a slip cork rigged up, I’ll tie a tiny piece of a rubber band into a slip knot in the braided line,” he said. “I can adjust the depth by simply pulling out the rubber band. With this rig I can fish at any depth I choose.”
On most days Barnes said the best depth will be 8 to 10 feet deep for sheepshead.
“If you’re just catching small fish, make a move, don’t waste your time,” he said. “Sooner or later you are going to find the big ones. They are good fighters, and are at the jetties at Port O’Connor, in big numbers for the next couple of months. Another good place to catch them is at the Galveston jetties.”
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