Saltwater Report: Sheepshead Bite Remains Strong In Tampa Bay

Michael Wilson  |  Ledger correspondent

1: At Big Pier 60 in Clearwater, spotted seatrout, sheepshead, whiting, silver trout and croakers have been steady catches this week. Bonnethead and a few other small sharks have also been caught, reports Big Pier 60 Bait & Tackle (727-462-6466).

2: At Madeira Beach, nearshore the hogfish bite is very good around ledges and structure about 50 to 70 feet deep. There’s also plenty of mangrove snapper, porgies and grunts. Deeper offshore out to the 20-fathom closure, the red grouper bite is also good on ledges, rock piles and Swiss cheese bottom to the south, reports Joe Berlin at Tierra Verde Bait and Tackle (727-864-2108).

Fish of the Week

Sheepshead: The seasonal sheepshead bite remains excellent for Tampa Bay area anglers and those fishing elsewhere.

Strike Zone, 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Elsewhere

3: At John’s Pass, sheepshead are still pretty thick in the pass around structure, the bridge and the docks. Redfish are also biting along the bottom, around the docks and inside the back bays. Spotted trout have been caught around the dock lights at night. Out at the jetty, there’s whiting and the occasional pompano when the water is clear, reports Gulf Coast Bait and Tackle (727-343-4181).

4: At Fort De Soto Park, around the marina there’s plenty of snook sheepshead, black seabass and some flounder have started to show. On the area flats, more spotted trout are showing up around Tarpon Key and inside the park. The campground area flats, the Soldier’s Hole and the Arrowhead area are producing trout up 18 to 19 inches. The Mud Hole is producing redfish, trout and sheepshead. The boat ramp area is full of snook and sheepshead. The piers are producing sheepshead, whiting, jack crevalle and some pompano, if the water is clear, reports Capt. Claude Hinson at Tierra Verde Bait and Tackle (727-864-2108).

5: Around the Sunshine Skyway and lower Tampa Bay, sheepshead are still the main topic right now. They’re in full spawn mode with this week’s full moon phase. All the inner bay, artificial reefs are loaded with spawning sheepshead that are actively feeding on good tidal flow. Rising water temps have the snook very active. Good numbers of fish are up in the Manatee River and it’s also a good spot to tuck out of the wind. Spotted trout fishing has been “hit or miss.” They’re constantly on the move with the constant weather fronts, reports Capt. John Gunter of Palmetto (863-838-5096).

6: At Anna Maria, Terra Ceia Bay, south all the way through Anna Maria Sound, has had a good spotted trout bite in deeper water around the small islands and over the deeper grass flats. Palma Sola Bay is producing snook and also big trout up to 28 inches. Anglers should stealthy though, as the bite is tough. Sheepshead are still all over the bridges and most area structure in the area, reports Capt. Shawn Crawford of Florida Sport Fishing Outfitters (941-705-3160).

7: At St. Petersburg, better weather produced better fishing this week. Sheepshead are still all over any structure, area bridges and the bay reefs. Mangrove snapper are still biting along the shipping channel. Snapper and grunts are also coming from the Skyway area. The inside canals and back waters around Weedon Island are good for redfish and a few snook. The canals and docks around Pinellas Point are also producing a good redfish bite. Good numbers of black drum have been caught in Big Bayou and the Coquina Key area, reports Larry Mastry at Mastry’s Tackle (727-896-8889).

8: In the north end of Tampa Bay, the sheepshead bite is good around all the bridges and most structure. Mangrove snapper are biting along the deeper channels. Spotted trout are biting good around the shallow bridge approaches. Snook are up in the canals and creeks. Both Picnic and Weedon islands have a good redfish bite, reports Gandy Bait & Tackle (813-839-5551).


• At Crystal River, the redfish bite is very good inside from Crystal River south to Homosassa. The fish are schooled up in the creeks and a big, freelined live shrimp is the best bait. Redfish are also on the outside islands, but they’re running in small pods, one to three fish, out there. The spotted trout bite is good in the back country, deep holes on D.O.A. CAL 5.5-inch jerkbaits in glow color. reports Capt. Marrio Castello of Tall Tales Charters (352-454-7719).

• At Fort Pierce, offshore it’s been a little rough, but there’s some mahi up to 10 pounds on the troll at the 80 to 200-foot mark. A few kingfish are also biting around 80 foot. Nearshore, there’s still plenty of Spanish mackerel to the north around a depth of 30 feet. At the inlet, whiting and scattered pompano are in the surf. The jetty is producing Spanish mackerel, sheepshead, black drum and a few flounder. Inside the inlet, there’s decent snook action on live bait in the deeper drop-offs and in the turning basin. Sheepshead are biting around the bridges and deeper channels. Scattered pompano are also biting in the river, reports Clint Walker at the Fishing Center of St. Lucie (772-465-7637).

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