Woody Gore

Sheepshead fishing in the summer can be incredibly fun and they are great to eat especially now that snook, redfish, and trout are off the menu.

What about Bait: Finding natural sheepshead bait is not difficult, practically any marine-dwelling crustacean or bivalve living in saltwater will work. Of course, some work better than others and can be found in the wild or purchased at your local bait shop. However, I am going to give you a few clues on what to use when it comes to these bait sellers. Fiddler crabs, in my opinion, are one of the top sheepshead baits. I use a lightweight Carolina Rig or Knocker Rig in deeper water, like around bridges, and for anything shallower, I free-line them on a snelled Diachii circle hook.


A close second to fiddlers that most folks never think about is the mud crab. This little guy lives under oysters and rocks and requires a little effort; so yes you have to get out of the boat and turn over some rocks and oyster clusters. So, before you head out sheepshead fishing, find some nearshore oysters or rocks and capture a few dozen or just purchase some fiddlers from your local bait store.


My third favorite bait is a ¾ to 1-inch piece of fresh or fresh frozen shrimp. But stay away from old freezer burned shrimp because you are wasting your money. Shrimp are good sheepshead bait and are nearly as effective as fiddlers or mud crabs. And best of all they are easily acquired from your local bait supplier. So what kind of tackle do you need to catch sheepshead, below are some suggestions?

  • Spinning Reel nothing larger than 2500 " 4000 series
  • Medium to medium/heavy 6 to 6½  foot spinning rod
  • 15lb. Seaguar Smackdown braided line tied
  • To 15 to 30 lb. Seaguar Fluoro Premier leader


  • #1 or 1/0 Snelled Diachii circle hook


  • Weight 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1 oz. the amount depends on the current.
  • Free-line in shallow water15 to 20 lb. Seaguar Fluoro Premier leader
  • Carolina Rig 12”-18” inch 15 to 20 lb. Seaguar Fluoro Premier leader

 Now that you’ve gotten your gear where are you going to fish? Keep reading for some suggestions.

Where to Fish: Summertime sheepsheads are in the same places as in the winter. So if you are looking for some early morning summertime action, begin your search by checking submerged rock piles, jetties, and piers; as well as tidal creeks. Or if you prefer some grass flats action, sheepshead can be found milling around inshore broken-bottom seagrass flats searching for small tidal crabs, clams and other ecosystem tidbits.

But the key to finding sheepshead in the summertime is looking for structures and habitats they associate with food. As like other species, the fish seem to be most active during the early morning hours. Of course, tides play a large role in their feeding habits as well.

Woody Gore

About The Author: Captain Woody Gore

Company: Captain Woody Gore Charters

Area Reporting: Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg, Clearwater

Bio: Born and raised in Tampa, Capt. Woody developed a passion for fishing as a child and years later, he is still expanding his fishing knowledge base and skill levels. Now with over 50 years of worldwide fishing experience he does everything possible to create an unforgettable and world class fishing adventure.

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