Sheepshead have made their way into Tampa Bay bridges and docks. They are well known for their dominant presence during the winter months, and historically peak in numbers during February. They can be found at any of the St. Petersburg bridges, docks, seawalls and jetties. I always head to my favorite mangrove snapper spots this time of year to find them. Sheepshead desire the same structure and environment as mangrove snapper. Most of the time when fishing these areas, you will catch more sheepshead than snapper, just because of their great numbers during these months.
Choice baits to use are live shrimp and fiddler crabs. These baits should be presented on a size 1/0 hook free-lined or with a split shot. An alternative would be your favorite 1/8-1/4-ounce jig-head. Where there’s one there are a bunch. Keeping count is important when catching these guys, because you can fill a cooler quick when the bite is right.
Another species to target this month are spotted seatrout. These hungry shallow water predators can be found stacked up anywhere that has a drop in depth adjacent to a sandbar or sandy patches and potholes on grass flats. Take advantage of the mild water temperatures, as the fish are more active. Baits I use for spotted seatrout are scaled sardines and live shrimp. Both baits are presented on a size 1/0 hook free-lined. You can sight cast or drift fish these baits. Livingston Lures Schoolmaster or Trout Master gold colored spade tale grub are my top choice artificials to use if you desire to cover a large area in a small amount of time.
If you’re fishing the bay side of St. Petersburg, I recommend stopping at “Mitch’s Bait and Tackle” off of 62nd Ave and 4th St. Mitch always has everything you need for a good day of fishing.