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Saturday, Dec 20, 2014
Go Fishing

The time is right to target sheepshead

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GO FISHING is a look at the area fishing scene through the eyes of local charter boat captains and fishing guides. Today: Frank Sargeant.

Captain Ray Markham reports there’s no better time to target big sheepshead than over the next month, particularly around the major phase of the full moons.

He says the fish are pouring in, preparing to spawn, and areas like Blind Pass and the stretch of the Intracoastal between Indian Rocks and Park Boulevard are good places to start searching.

“There are also scattered oyster bars in the area that sheepies love to feed on,” said Markham, who recommends pieces of fresh shrimp as the top bait.

He said that Palma Sola Bay is turning out steady catches of reds and trout, and Price’s Key has been holding slot-sized redfish. Anglers working the area over with Eppinger Rex Spoons and LiL John XL Jerk Baits from MirrOlure are finding some nice fish there.

Tidy Island anglers reported redfish and bluefish in the area of Sarasota Bay. Markham says there are some big Spanish around the passes, and reports that captain Billy Miller has been catching some kings at the mouth of Tampa Bay; www.captainraymarkham.com.

Offshore anglers continue to reel in the hog snappes, a fishery that didn’t exist until recently because nobody knew how to catch them. Now that everybody knows they eat live shrimp, it probably won’t exist much longer — the fish are being harvested at gold-rush pace because they’re some of the tastiest in the sea.

The full moon this weekend will mean extreme low tides on the flats, ideal for wading and looking for tailing redfish on hard-bottom flats like those from the Little Manatee to Port Manatee.

In fresh water, captain Sean Rush continues to find lots of trophy bass for his clients at Rodman Reservoir, all caught on wild shiners run under the hyacinths. Many of these fish are over 6 pounds, with some more than 10 — all are released; www.floridatrophybass.com.

Anglers throughout central Florida, including the St. Johns River Chain and the Kissimmee Chain lakes are catching speckled perch. Live minnows or 1/16 ounce jigs on hydrilla edges and in bulrushes do the job as the fish gather to spawn. Lake Tarpon also is putting out plenty of these tasty panfish.

Tribune correspondent Frank Sargeant can be reached at franksargeant@charter.net

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