Hello fellow anglers. February brings us closer to shore with the cold fronts blowing through our area. This is a great time to focus on sheepshead and flounder. Sheepshead tend to move to the close reefs along the coast. They will stack up on any small ledges or structure they can find from the depth of forty feet all the way into the passes, and docks just inside the passes. These guys like crustaceans; shrimp, sand fleas, fiddler crabs, mangrove crabs and barnacles. Yes, they have teeth to crunch things up that they suck it in. You can use a smaller hook, like a #1 and a twenty-pound leader to produce more bites. One of my former employers told me everybody likes shrimp and this is true in salt water fishing. I have been fishing on a shallow reef, 35’, and we were catching sheepshead on one side of the boat and flounder on the other. Flounder tend to bunch up around ledges and reefs too, as there is food there. They will eat shrimp too, and cut-baits and small fish. They will gather on the upper sides of ledges where there is sand and they blend in with the bottom very well. Flounder are aggressive and will come off the bottom to feed. Both the flounder and sheepshead are great table fare. Some compare sheepshead to spiny lobster and flounder has a very mild taste and desirable by many.
Also this time of year going out past 40’ to some of the ledges and reefs, you can find lane, mangrove, and yellow tail snappers. Snapper respond well to chumming. If you are catching your own white bait, these work well as bait and chum offshore. I have an older tool to chop up these baits and it hangs over the side of the boat. Every few minutes chop a few more and keep the flow going. If you do a great job at this you can raise the mangroves to the surface where you only need a hook and bait on your line. This is fast and furious and can shut down just as quick as it started. It is as easy to accomplish at night as in the day. Yes, night-time snapper fishing is fun too. Depending on the type of structure you are fishing, using shrimp you may even find a hogfish. They like it around the same areas as porgies, grunts, and triggers; a hard bottom that will hold small crabs too.