Recommended Tips On How To Catch Sheepshead Fish

Hi! How are the fish biting? It’s been a while since I went out to fish for this particular kind, and I just wanted to share some cool facts and tricks on how to catch sheepshead fish with you right before I go out and have a go at them today!

Hi! How are the fish biting? It’s been a while since I went out to fish for this particular kind, and I just wanted to share some cool facts and tricks on how to catch sheepshead fish with you right before I go out and have a go at them today!

Recommended Tips On How To Catch Sheepshead Fish

  • The Sheepshead Fish’s Bite
  • Have The Right Kind Of Bait
  • Use The Right Stuff
  • Hook And Line
  • Fishing Reels And Rods
  • Know Where To Cast
  • Rigging Your Bait
  • Casting And Reeling It In

1. The Sheepshead Fish’s Bite

A sheepshead is a saltwater fish that has healthy teeth both in its upper and lower jaws. Understanding the reason behind this will lead us to a safe bet on what their favorite food are – bivalves and crustaceans! They need those teeth to snag those small critters and munch on them for nutrition!

Sheepshead Fish

Sheepshead fish can grow up to 30 inches in size. It’s one of my favorite game fish! Not only is it a beauty to brag about, but It also tastes delectable and amazing – I can cook you one, and you’ll be coming back for more!

The largest one I caught was a 26-inch whopper, and boy was I elated when I showed my dad how big it was! Knowing that these fish can be active and ferocious means you’d have to use great lines and hooks and an aggressive reeling technique.

If you want to learn more on what recommended baits and techniques are most useful for these bad boys, then you’d best keep reading! I’d be more than happy to show you how I landed that big game!

2. Have The Right Kind Of Bait

As I always mention in many of my fishing articles, preparation is always key. Right before you set out, like what I’m doing right now, you’ll have to make sure everything is accounted for and ready for the trip. With this, bringing the right kind of bait is important.

Have The Right Kind Of Bait

We’ve already discussed the sheepshead’s favorite snack – bivalves and crustaceans. These would include, among others: crabs, oysters, shrimps, mussels, clams, etc.

What I’m packing is what others will also recommend you to use – fiddler crabs. These small critters are just the right size and color for the best enticing treat for the fish. These crabs are found on almost every shoreline. But they are also readily available at bait stores; that’s where I got mine for today.

Pro Tip: A cool way to preserve this kind of bait just in case you need extra before you go out is to place some in a small can, put a piece of wood in there and a small level of saltwater with them, and put it in the fridge. That can make them last for weeks!

3. Use The Right Stuff

Next preparation we’ll cover would be our fishing tools. What hooks or lines should we be using? We have discussed how robust and boney the structure of a sheepshead fish’s head is, so it’s natural that we have to use the right equipment to match that.

4. Hook And Line

Hook And Line

The circle hook would be the best kind to use for this fish. Its shape can carry the bait quickly, and its sharp hook can penetrate that jaw fast. Make sure you always use new hooks.

Sheepshead fish are also notorious bait stealers, meaning they can snag bait without being caught if you use larger hooks – So smaller, stronger, sharper hooks are recommended.

Your line would have to be strong as well, but make sure it has low visibility. Because the sheepshead fish’s eyes are designed to spot small prey, they are also very sensitive and can detect bright lines or large hooks.

Medium length fluorocarbon lines may be useful; even monofilament lines can also do the trick!

Just make sure they are strong enough not to break with moderate to strong pulls.

5. Fishing Reels And Rods

Fishing Reels And Rods

Sheepshead is very active and can put up a good fight, which means you’ll be needing some quick dynamic rods and reels. We want a strong, long and flexible rod to start.

My best bet would be a 7 foot long, fast-action rod, as it can cast wonderfully with your bait and hook and can handle pressures and quick movements you need for the battle when you get that bite. Match that with a good low gear spinning reel.

Why do we need a low-gear one?

It’s because you’ll be needing control – and a lower gear ratio means a slower reel but stronger hold and leverage. You need that much-needed power pull to yank your catch out of its place, and a recommended fishing reel would be a slow and steady low gear one.

6. Know Where To Cast

When you’re in a sheepshead fish area, like the famous Sheepshead Bay, choosing where to place yourself to throw is an essential step. Remember what those favorite nibbles our fish love? Take note that this crawlies like to stay in corners and walls underwater.

  • The best area to plant you in would be ones near the said edges. You can almost always see them circling a wall or structure. Have a great vantage point and cast your line near or better yet right above these places.
  • Remember, these fish swim deep for their food, so cast down.
  • If you’re in your fishing boat, then anchor yourself where we recommend, otherwise, being on top of a bridge or the seawall has also proved useful for my trips.

7. Rigging Your Bait

I use fiddler crabs and a nice circle hook for this part. It’s important to be gentle and careful so that you won’t either crush your bait or get pinched yourself (Believe me, it hurts a lot!)

Rigging Your Bait
  • Take your fresh and kicking fiddler crab and yank that big pincer off. You’d want that pincer off for two reasons: So you won’t risk getting pinched, and so the fish won’t grab that and steal the bait.
  • Once it’s off, you can get that sharp hook and start to penetrate the crab’s soft belly at the side – that’s so it still survives your piece. We want it to live when it touches the water.
  • Gently push out the hook, so just a subtle portion is exposed protruding out of your bait.It’s all set and ready now! Test it out on the ground first and watch that bit scuttle around, fish are going to love seeing that!

Joshua Taylor of has a great YouTube video on how to rig a fiddler crab for sheepshead fishing here:

8. Casting And Reeling It In

Casting And Reeling It In

You already know where to cast, so once that bait and line are in the water, it’s only a matter of time before a real bite happens. Because your bait is sweet and alive when it’s under, it does the job for you and dances to entice that fish to snap at it.

  • Once you’ve got a bite, remember all that knowledge about the fish – strong jaws, sharp teeth, hard head – meaning it’s going to put up a good fight.
  • What my dad told me, and what I effectively use, is the aggressive yank and reel where I pretend to try and pull that fish’s head off!

It ultimately proves useful! It prevents the fish from stealing the bait, and it also makes the hook penetrate even deeper. With all these tricks and tips on how to catch sheepshead fish, you will land your biggest one yet!


Was it a fun ride and did it spark a new fire in you to push you to catch these beautiful Sheepshead fish? All statements and discussions are welcome and put them all in the comments below!

If you liked this article then, by all means, share it with all your fishing friends! Let’s all spread this great pastime and enjoy each other’s company as anglers! Now if you’ll please excuse me, I have to get ready myself! Time for some nice fishing action and I’m going to catch myself something good for dinner!

Thanks again, remember to fish with a smile! Happy fishing everyone!

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