Top 3 Types Of Bait For Targeting Sheepshead
Note: This very popular post on the top baits for targeting sheepshead was originally published on September 9, 2022. But since then, we’ve had TONS of very helpful info added to the comments, so be sure to read the comments section too. Enjoy!
What is your go-to bait for targeting sheepshead?
Sheepshead are starting to show up again in mid-Atlantic waters!!
So what do you need to know to target these fish?
Find out below!!
Bait For Targeting Sheepshead [VIDEO]
Sheepshead Feeding Habits
Younger sheepshead have slightly different diets than older, larger sheepshead.
The cut-off point is typically around 14-15 inches.
When sheepshead are younger and smaller, they focus more on eating mollusks like clams, mussels, and oysters.
Once they reach the 14-15 inch mark, they start to diversify their diet and expand the menu.
They will begin to target crabs and sand fleas as well as minnows or blood worms.
Shrimp is an outstanding bait for pretty much anything that swims inshore.
The only main drawback to using shrimp are nuisance fish and poachers that want to steal the shrimp off your hook.
However, shrimp are an absolute must because sheepshead will seek out and eat shrimp.
Shrimp can be live or frozen and I prefer to rig them up on weighted jigs.
It is a quality presentation for inshore fish and helps prevent possible snags and hang-ups.
A great way to maintain a shrimp presentation without the real thing is using the Power Prawn USA.
The best time to switch over to artificial for sheepshead is when the tide slows down and you can creep up on bridge pilings and structures without battling the current.
2) Sand Fleas
Sand fleas are an excellent bait up and down the east coast.
Live sand fleas or even dead ones work best but you could also fish with frozen sand fleas as well.
Keep in mind, that frozen sand fleas need time to thaw out a bit, or else they may thaw underwater and fall off the hook.
As far as rigging, as mentioned previously with rigging shrimp, I prefer to use bottom sweeper weighted jigs.
The sickle-shaped hook design is perfect for rigging up sand fleas.
You don’t want much hanging off the hook for a fish to come and steal your bait.
Once I rig the sand flea on the hook, I twist it around and on top of the weight so it rests just underneath the barb of the hook.
Now, the fish has to put the hook in their mouth if they want to eat the sand flea.
Sand fleas often die quickly when using them as bait and the most common reason for this is they die from the urine that accumulates in the container fishermen keep them in.
Make sure you are keeping an eye on live sand fleas throughout your trip.
3) Fiddler Crabs
There are so many species of crabs out there that whatever is available in your local tackle stores will work.
However, if you have the option, always go for the fiddler crabs when targeting sheepshead.
Usually, you have to go out and catch them so if there is a local store that sells them near you, take advantage!
As far as size goes, the dime to nickel-sized fiddler crabs are best.
The smallest fiddler crabs hook into the biggest sheepshead.
When rigging fiddler crabs on hooks, I always use the bottom sweeper style jigs as mentioned above.
When it comes to rigging, I like to slide the hook into the last two legs of the crab until the barb is secure.
Then the crab almost ‘hovers’ above the jig.
So when a fish comes to eat the crab, they end up snagging the hook in their lip as well.
Also, it is definitely helpful to remove the larger claws off of fiddler crabs so as not to give them anything to grab a hold of the hook with.
Sometimes the smallest baits catch the biggest fish!!!
Sheepshead are so much fun to target and with surging numbers up in the Northeast, it is a perfect time to get out and look for these fish.
Remember, EVERYTHING EATS A SHRIMP!!!
Do you have any questions about targeting sheepshead or other questions about types of bait?
Let me know what you thought of these tips down below!!
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