Indian River Lagoon Feb 2018

One of my favorite and tastiest fish to catch during this time of year is the sheepshead. Sheepshead which is also called “convict” fish are known to put up a good fight on light tackle as well as for their excellent table fair. One of the best ways to catch a sheepshead is to rig a shrimp, sand flea, or fiddler crab onto a number 1 or 2 circle hook. Since many of these fish feed near structure, anglers will want to drop their bait to the bottom and then retrieve the bait so that it is suspended 2 to 3 feet off the bottom. Once you are set up practice a little patience and get ready to hold on tight. Sheepshead can be difficult to hook and have an uncanny ability to clean a hook without you knowing anything happened. When targeting sheepshead, it is very important to keep your line tight and be ready for the bite because you often only get one chance to set the hook. According to the FWC, sheepsheads have a minimum size limit of 12” with a daily bag limit 15 fish per person.

In addition, the redfish and black drum bite should be good. Redfish and black drum can be caught along channel drop offs, the flats, or even structure such as docks. One of my favorite areas to target black drum is the northern end of the Banana River. When targeting these fish, anglers will want to use fresh cut bait such as mullet or ladyfish rigged onto a circle hook or live shrimp rigged onto a 1/4 ounce jig head. When conditions are calm, several of these fish can be caught while sight casting to them. This is especially true along the flats. When targeting these black drum, anglers will want to keep the bait in front of feeding fish. This can be done by casting the bait in front of the fish or allowing the bait to rest on the bottom along channel drop offs. The average length of these black drum should be around 15 inches with the largest fish measuring in at 23 inches.
Also, the flounder bite should continue to be good. Flounder are not very hard to catch and are not picky when it comes to feeding. They can be caught with a wide variety of natural or artificial baits such as bright colored jerk baits that typically have a paddle tail. Flounder will also aggressively feed on baits such as live mud minnows, live finger mullet, live or frozen shrimp, or cut bait. Flounder are ambush predators that feed primarily by sight. When targeting them I prefer to periodically bump or jig the bait across the bottom to make it more visible. This is especially true when drifting along a sandy bottom adjacent to channel drop offs or near structure. According to the FWC, flounder have a minimum size limit of 12” total length and have a daily bag limit of 10 per harvester per day.

Submitted By: Capt. Keith Mixon
Mixin’ Work With Play Fishing Charters

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