3-Step Method To STOP Missing Sheepshead Bites

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Sheepshead are notorious bait stealers.

They’ve left many anglers clueless and frustrated as they drop down a bait and reel up a bare hook a few minutes later.

Has this ever happened to you?

If it has, then you’re going to love this 3-step method to catch more sheepshead and stop them from stealing your bait.

In the video below, I’ll show you what the three steps are, as well as some fun fish-catching footage where I put these steps into action.

3-Steps To Catch More Sheepshead [VIDEO]

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Step 1: Feel the bite

Most people miss out on sheepshead bites because they’re not paying attention to their line.

The sheepshead nibbles off the bait before they even realize they were there.

To stop this from happening, you have two options:

  1. Keep the line tight so you can feel every little nibble
  2. Let the line lay loosely on the surface, but watch it for subtle movements

I recommend most people do the first option.

The second option won’t work in an area with current because your line will always be moving.

The first option also lets you quickly move onto step #2…

 Step 2: Determine if a sheepshead is on

One big mistake many people do is feel a bite, then immediately set the hook.

The problem with doing this is that when you’re using live bait near structure, there are likely small pinfish and snapper tugging at your bait, making you think you have a fish on.

If you set the hook every time you think you have a fish on, you’ll keep ripping your bait out of the strike zone.

And every time your bait is pulled out of the strike zone, you’re wasting time by not giving yourself an opportunity to catch fish.

Instead, you need to determine if a sheepshead is on by lifting up your rod tip and feeling for a sheepshead.

If you lift your rod and your bait lifts up, too, then you’ve got nothing on and you can set it back down.

But if you lift up your rod and you feel something heavy on the other end, then it’s time to go to step #3…

Step 3: Set the hook

If you feel a sheepshead on, then it’s time to set the hook.

They have small mouths with lots of teeth, so you’ll need a good hookset to stop yourself from becoming just another stolen bait victim.

You don’t need to be Bill Dance’ing these sheepshead, but a sharp tug will do the trick.

Of course, if you’re using circle hooks you don’t need to set the hook, just start reeling once you feel the fish on.

Catching Sheepshead With Artificial Lures

If you’re really sick of sheepshead stealing your bait, there’s another option: use artificial lures to catch them.

Crab lures work great for sheepshead and you don’t need to worry about sheepshead sucking them right off the hook.

Check out this live fishing trip video where Joe and Luke caught several nice sheepshead with crab lures.

Conclusion

sheepshead rig

Here’s how to catch more sheepshead:

  1. Feel the bite
  2. Determine if a sheepshead is on
  3. Set the hook

By doing these three steps, you’ll start catching more sheepshead, and stop them from them stealing your bait.

Have any questions about these tips?

Or do you have any other suggestions for how to stop sheepies from stealing your bait?

Let me know down in the comments.

And if you know someone who’s sick of sheepshead stealing their bait, please TAG or SHARE this with them!

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Larry Fox
5 days ago

Great tips, Austin. Thanks.
Were you keeping the rig very close to the pylons or were you letting it drift away with the current? You cannot really tell from the video.

Austin Moon
4 days ago
Reply to  Larry Fox

Thank you, Larry!
In this case I was keeping my weight on the bottom and only moving it after a few seconds without a bite then setting it back down on the bottom. The area I was fishing had rocks on the bottom and had pylons. So I was looking for Sheepshead around both of them!

Larry Fox
4 days ago
Reply to  Austin Moon

Thank you, Austin. o, to be clear you were either at the pylons or between them, on rocks, correct?
Also, was it the drop shot rig you had spoke about?

Joe Files
6 days ago

I never see anything about using a cork.

John Krell
6 days ago
Reply to  Joe Files

Thanks for the comment, Joe!! Ive actually never used a float for sheepshead, but I know that it can be done! When the opportunity arises ill have to give it a go!!

Austin Moon
6 days ago
Reply to  Joe Files

Thanks for the comment, Joe! Ive personally never used a cork when sheepshead fishing, but i know that it can be done! When the opportunity arises ill have to give it a go!

Drew Danko
9 days ago

Joe,
What rod and reel were you using in this video? Drew Danko

Austin Moon
9 days ago
Reply to  Drew Danko

Hey Drew! Thanks for the comment!
I was using a 7′ MH fast action Bull bay Stealth Sniper with a Diawa BG 2500 and 15Lb PowerPro.

Robert Bigelow
10 days ago

💯% bro.. Nice post Austin!

Austin Moon
9 days ago
Reply to  Robert Bigelow

Thank you, Robert!! I really appreciate that!!

Buddy Harrison
10 days ago

Thanks Austin … a little coaching before going after these Beasts is helpful. Awesome video! Simplicity works.

Austin Moon
10 days ago
Reply to  Buddy Harrison

Thanks for taking the time to write such a nice comment, Buddy!! Your awesome!

Pablo
10 days ago

Nice tips

Austin Moon
10 days ago
Reply to  Pablo

Thank you, Pablo!!

Andrew Sandoval
10 days ago

Use 1/0 or 2/0 Stand-out drop shot hooks (I use 2 about 12” apart) and a 1/2 to 3 oz. weight 18 inches below them with Shrimp or fiddler crabs and you will dramatically improve the hook-up rate for Sheepshead.

Just be aware that sometimes they mark #1 hooks as 1/0 and they are too small. My local BPS only carries small (too small) Stand-Out hooks so I special order them.

I have caught 2 16+” Sheepshead at once this way.

Last edited 10 days ago by Andrew Sandoval
Austin Moon
10 days ago

That’s awesome Andrew, thank you for sharing! Ive never caught 2 at a time before thats really cool!

Larry Fox
5 days ago

I may be incorrect but I believe in Florida waters using multiple hooks with live or dead bait for Sheepshead is illegal (as is true for pretty much all of the fish here). Is that incorrect?

Gary
10 days ago

Break it down and Keep it simple. 1, 2, 3 … fish on! Thanks Austin!

Austin Moon
10 days ago
Reply to  Gary

Yes sir!!! Thank you Gary!!!

Dominique Sauvage
11 days ago

That was really helpful, now I need to go and test it out.

Austin Moon
10 days ago

Thank you Dominique, im glad you enjoyed it!! I hope you do great!!

Guy Stephens
11 days ago

Thank you Austin, that was simple, but great info. Where were you fishing?

Austin Moon
10 days ago
Reply to  Guy Stephens

Thanks so much, Guy!! I sent you an email.

Ted Hartman
11 days ago

Great Video Austin that’s how to do it Brother.
Ted Hartman

Austin Moon
10 days ago
Reply to  Ted Hartman

Your awesome Ted, thank you, im glad that you enjoyed it!!

Michael Compton
11 days ago

Austin, I’ve only tried a couple of time to catch those dudes and each time I have struck out. Thank you for this instruction. Do you mind telling me what kind of bait you were using?

Austin Moon
11 days ago

Not a problem at all, Michael!! Thank you! I was using Fiddler Crabs as bait in this video. You may find that a lot of bait shops will not have them right now. You can dig them up like Tony shows in this video, https://www.saltstrong.com/articles/how-to-find-fiddler-crabs-in-winter/
or use an alternative bait like sand fleas.

Andy Hong
11 days ago

Awesome tips, Austin! I’m gonna head out tomorr and try this!

As I mentioned in one of your other videos, I love how you include the releases! Seeing those Sheepshead make those perfect dives into the water (with the help of your light toss) put a big smile on my face! I imagine them being like dolphins, and having fun flying through the air and making a perfect landing.

Austin Moon
11 days ago
Reply to  Andy Hong

Thanks so much Andy!! I hope you do great tomorrow!!

Haha I love it! I enjoy letting them go!

Andy Hong
11 days ago
Reply to  Austin Moon

👍

Jonathan McDade
11 days ago

Good tip, thanks Austin! I wish I read this before going out yesterday, lost probably a dozen sheepsheads. Oh well, next time.

Austin Moon
11 days ago

Thanks Jack I appreciate it!! I don’t know if you needed it man it looks like you guys did great!! haha!

Dave Otte
12 days ago

You nailed it Austin. It was just like being in the boat with you. Very nice real life lesson. Thank you! Catching sheepshead is exactly as you described.

Austin Moon
11 days ago
Reply to  Dave Otte

Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a nice comment, Dave!! Your awesome!

Brianne Dijamco
12 days ago

Learned so much from this, thank you!! I’ve never fished for sheepshead before but now I might try it! Especially with the weather right now. Were you using fiddler crabs here? I’m going to checkout that podcast you mentioned about crab lures bc I haven’t really ventured into using live bait on my own. Yet!

Austin Moon
11 days ago

Thank you Brianne, so glad that you liked it! I was using Fiddler crab in this video. I hope you do great! Here is a link to the podcast I mentioned. https://www.saltstrong.com/articles/sheepshead-baits-lures-mistakes/

Pat Ogletree
12 days ago

You got me wanting to go sheepshead fishing now! Never done it before, I’ll have to try it

Austin Moon
12 days ago
Reply to  Pat Ogletree

Hahaha yea man, you gotta give it a go!! I remember my first time doing it I thought id never figure them out but so glad that I did! Super fun fish to catch! It’s my wife’s favorite fish to eat and at the top of my list!

Jeffrey Wilson
12 days ago

Great info and video Austin! I will remember this for sure. Can this be used with artificial bates?

Austin Moon
12 days ago
Reply to  Jeffrey Wilson

Thanks Jeff, your awesome man!!! Yea id like to say that artificial should be the same way, but ive never used them (hoping to soon). I believe that Luke basically said that he does it the same way with the artificial crabs in the recent Sheepshead podcast though!

Mario Relvini
12 days ago

Great advice Austin. I tend to have a quick trigger with the slightest nibble. Now I know to feel the weight before setting the hook. Thanks.

Austin Moon
12 days ago
Reply to  Mario Relvini

Thanks Mario, I appreciate that!! I used to do the same! Once I started feeling the weight before setting the hook. I hooked up a lot more and lost a lot less!

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