Spring tides last weekend combined with wind and lots of rain resulted in poor water quality for fishing. Nonetheless, there are large schools of redfish on the flats. In muddy conditions redfish will have difficulty finding a bait. Even when a fish hits a plastic the bite is more of soft bump as opposed to an aggressive hit. For those serious about fishing in muddy water scented baits with colors that can penetrated the murkiness is an alternative. Fishing a live bait such as mud minnow and just letting the fish find the bait is likely the better approach. Prior to the tides springing there were good catches of sheepshead both inshore and offshore.
On one excursion last week the offshore sheepshead bite did not happen. Then on the way in we fished some inshore structure to find a very good bite. The fiddler crabs were in poor shape either dead or dying. Despite mostly dead crabs the bite was very good! Several fish in five pound plus range. Another boat fishing close by wasn’t catching fish while we pulling them in. The secrete”zombie fiddlers”. Dead fiddlers really wasn’t a factor. Sheepshead were biting! The guys in other boat repositioned and started catching fish. They reported catching plenty of sheepshead the day before offshore while like us not able to catch a single fish offshore on this day. Why did the offshore bite turnoff and inshore bite turn? I’m not sure. I am sure it pays to be flexible. Dead crabs can work. Some fishermen say frozen fiddler can work while other say frozen fiddlers are a waste of time. If your bait has died or is mostly dead you might be surprised on what you can catch with that bait. Chumming the water with some fiddlers or fiddler bits can’t hurt and might be a big help to your fishing. Typically fishermen think sheepshead inshore will be smaller with only one or two larger sheepshead holding on a structure. While this is the prevailing thought it is still possible to catch a bunch of impressive fish while fishing inshore. As more fishermen get tuned into sheepshead fishing its always a good idea to keep only what you plan to eat and release the rest. These fish can be exceptionally fun to catch! Despite conventional wisdom on the difficulty of catching this fish; sheepshead are a structure oriented fish and be easily patterned. With this in mind going light on one’s catch makes sense. This was a fish a few years few fishermen targeted now days seeing a boat with a load of sheepshead is not unusual. With relatively liberal limits this fish can quickly suffer. Kept what you want to eat and release the rest!
As tides subside during the week fishing should improve as well. The sheepshead bite has been strong. If sheepshead fishing be flexible. If the offshore is cold plan ahead to fish inshore. Plan your fishing when tidal current will have the least impact. Better yet fish structure where there is an eddy that will negate the current. These honey holes hard to find and harder to hold onto. Best places to fish for sheepshead: rock jetties, pilings, seawall, fallen trees. Ideal creeks are those creeks or sloughs are relatively close to the ocean.
Large schools on the flats! Spinners baits, chatter baits and spoons sounds like ideal baits in dirty water. The problem with fishing these baits is that you’ll often scare redfish in this swallow dirty winter water. Stick with soft plastics and scent!
Hope this of help! Capt. Jack McGowan