Big Bend Charter/Capt. Brian Smith

It’s not like it isn’t expected, but I’m glad March has rolled in.  This winter has been weather-weird, hasn’t it?  Strong winds and cold fronts followed by periods of Indian summer have kept us flipping the thermostat from heat, to off, to cool during the same day!

Anyway, the sheepshead-spawning trigger has been pushed early, not full blast, but a few have set up camp at their regular romantic rendezvous.  By the time of this reading, the sheepshead should be in full love-mode.  It should be easy and fun to put “enough” in the cooler, while releasing the meaningful pregnant females.  Best bait: shrimp or fiddler crabs.  If kids are involved, at low tide, let them run down some fiddler crabs around the makeshift small boat ramps in the marsh around this area. (Bring a video camera.)  A helpful hint:  file down the hook barb for ease of de-hooking.

After sheepshead sport, ease off and collect some wonderful and colorful seabass on any hard bottom from 20 to 40 feet.  They are one of the best eating fish in the Gulf.  Best bait:  Durable, such as, squid, cut bait or pieces of Gulp.  A good and easy rig is a ½ oz white bucktail jig with a baited hook tied above.

To add more fun to both sheepshead and seabass fishing, fish with light weight tackle.  The loss of a fish or two is more than made for by the extra enjoyment.  A kid, of any age, won’t remember the fish, but will remember the rod bend and the super tug.  Try to put more fun in the dysFUNction of fast catching.
Red grouper are open year round now.  When water temperature is over 59 F, they should bang frozen baits with reckless abandon in waters approximately 60 inches.  Too bad the Fed-Rats have seen the need to close gag grouper for the recreation anglers.  Trolling in the cool months is a great time, but is not selective or kind to caught fish.