Targeting Sheepshead On The Flats
What are the best tactics for targeting sheepshead fish on the flats?
Where should you look to find sheepshead?
Listen in to this clip from our weekly Inner Circle call for everything you need to know about sheepshead flats fishing!
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Targeting Sheepshead On The Flats
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Sheepshead are a tough fish to catch on the flats just because of how easily spooked they are.
A common and successful approach to fishing for sheepshead on the flats is to go fly fishing.
Sheepshead are overall more comfortable in deeper water and willing to strike bait.
If you are able to, it is best to target sheepshead along dock pilings or rock structures.
In order to target sheepshead up and close to the mangroves, it is a smart tactic to throw a live shrimp on a hook and have it sit as close as you can to the mangroves.
As far as bait is concerned, you can’t go wrong with live shrimp but fiddler crabs will also do the trick.
Oftentimes, if sheepshead are spooked off and scatter from the mangrove edges, they will return pretty quickly to the same spot.
If you then see sheepshead come back after scattering, make a cast near where they are holding and not directly on them.
Sheepshead are not ambush predators and aren’t inclined to chase lures or bait down.
You want to present your bait as close to structures as you can.
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Targeting Sheepshead On The Flats [VIDEO]
Sheepshead are one of the most finicky and skittish fish to target along the flats and mangrove edges.
You want to be as stealthy as possible and try out baits such as shrimp and crab imitations or live bait.
It can be hard to induce sheepshead bites on the flats, however, it is not impossible!
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Last winter I was able to sight fish a few on the flats from my kayak with the Chasebaits Crab lure. Conditions were just right – windy enough that my kayak wasnt too obvious, but calm enough that I could see them pretty well. Took a borderline perfect cast to get any to eat (and my casting is not great) – and I only managed to land two of several dozen I tried for. Even so, I started keeping a crab lure with me at all times after that.
Definitely tough, but it can be done!
That’s funny. When I see sheepshead on the flats I don’t even give them a second look. Kind of like black drum, once they see you, you can forget about it.
One thing I have noticed is when I do start seeing sheepshead on the flats I will usually start seeing black drum and reds as well close by.
Alright I have been consistently taking sheepshead for the past month on the flats. I work the potholes that have rocks or oysters in them with decent current. If it is really shallow I use a small cigar float with 15″-18″ of 20# leader and a #2 Owner circle hook with a live shrimp and no split shot. Let it drift with the current. If it is deeper I run two feet of 20# leader same hook with 3/16 bullet weight. Put that down in the same type of structure and wait them out. In my experience if they can see you they will not eat.
Great info Darin!
Buck teeth fish can be caught on flats(atlest in Galveston bays, Tx). I just drift with current in my kayak and cast ahead let bait drift towards them. Gulp shrimp, vudo, better yet my new slam shady….gets them on slow retrives
Good stuff Norm!
Although I see them occasionally on the flats in the winter time this fish is one of the few species here in north east Florida that I have not caught mostly because I’m horrible with live bait and although I have caught numerous trout and a few reds and flounder on live shrimp on a popping cork I only fished that way when I was still new go saltwater inshore fishing but now after switching totally to lures and finding out that sheepshead are better caught with bait I never really pursued them maybe some day if i break my old habits of trolling for trout in the winter and on warm sunny days casting for reds on the flats because i love to eat fish and while i dont keep excessive amounts to eat i would like to broaden my catch species and i have heard but not tried eating a sheepshead thanks for the info and all you guys do at saltstrong😉👍
Sheepshead are very good to eat, but it helps to catch a few of them or the bigger ones.
I was planning on targeting sheepshead for the first time in Dania Beach after work, so this came out at the perfect time for me! Thanks for the quick tips guys!
You’re welcome Jay!