Jetty Tactics for Sheepshead

Yeah Baby!

    The rod I use is an Uncle Buck's crappie pole 13 to 16 feet. Be careful as I broke mine on the first day while whipping at a snag. It busted right at the handle. Myself being a cheap &%%# bought some fiberglass and resin at Home Depot and fixed it. I broke my son's rod trying a hoist maneuver. The others that I have seen in Academy have been the crappie only type with no reel seat just a cleat. Many times that will be okay but a big one will take some drag. Mine has one of those sliding fuji type seats. Also, the telescopic poles that are green interline with the little tiny plastic reel on the end are no good. I think those are way too flimsy for sheepshead. I used to have one and I didn't even like to use it for crappie. You break off and the line comes down the tube and then you have to fish it back through with a piece of wire while retaining the little tip on the end.

    I put a serviceable reel on it but nothing you don't mind getting beat up a bit. It is next to impossible to keep a reel from banging around on the rocks. Remember that the pole is flimsy so I don't recommend hoisting a keeper any considerable distance. Buy one of those long nets and let the net strings do the work. In other words, don't lift straight up on the net handle any more than you have to. Try to get the handle perpendicular to the beach as soon as you can and let the strings hold the weight not the handle.

    The bait I use is fresh ghost shrimp. Use your Creature Catcher Pump and get the fattest ones you can find. There is a limit of 20 per person so get as many big ones as possible. I usually split them and use the head one time and the rest of the body the next. I use the Eagle Claw number one pretied snelled baitholder hooks with the spines on the shank. I also use the smallest slip sinker above a simple swivel. I then do the quick loop the loop thru the swivel and back with the hook through the loop tie job. Buy plenty of hooks as you will lose them. Also the hooks will break in two if you really have one hooked hard. Remember to drop the bait straight down. Don't cast out with any angle past that unless you really like the feel of a snag. Wear hip boots or waders if the surf is rough so you can get right at the end of the rocks without fear of getting wet. Bring along a set of pliers for the other toothy spiny guys like the searobins and toadfish. We usually tie off the stringer and toss the sheepshead into a space between the rocks that has water and no tiny nooks and crannies for the stringer to get stuck in. They are hardy fish and they make a living in the pounding surf along the rocks so you can't hurt them.

   I don't know why they got the bad rap but they have a rep for being hard to clean. They are great to eat. My family likes Sheepshead or a Black Drum around 20 inches better than redfish or trout. They are only slightly harder to clean than a redfish. Get a sharp knife and work it along the backbone on top. It helps to go side to side to cut thru their thick skin. They have scales like a red. Once you get that top cut going it is just like filleting any other fish.

   We cook them like the French do. Take a dry fillet and drop it in seasoned flour. Just so it looks dusty white and toss it in a skillet of a little butter mixed with peanut oil to keep the butter from burning. This is not deep frying here. Cook them about 3 minutes a side on medium heat and turn them over when you see the side get light brown. Really, they are excellent.

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