Razor-sharp barnacles, a favorite food of sheepshead, are attached to all the structures where the fish live during the cooler weather. Be sure to carry plenty of sinkers, leaders, and hooks as you will lose some tackle. As with almost all fish species, the lighter your fishing line, the more likely you’ll get a bite. However, if the structure is thick, you may need to increase your line size to get the fish away from the structure. Start with a 10- or 12-pound line but move up to a 15-pound-test if you keep losing tackle.
You can use anything from No. 2 to 1/0 hooks, but always get a hook two times stronger or stronger because the sheepshead will bend a fine wire hook before you can set the hook. I use 7-foot rods with a fast tip with a good backbone. That way, I can detect the strike and then get the fish away from the structure.
If you have success reeling in sheepshead during your winter fishing trip, I recommend keeping those fish that are 16 inches or larger. When you start cleaning the fish, you’re going to find it will take a larger fish to yield the size fillets you want to serve for dinner. So reel in those smaller fish and then return them to the water to grow up to catch next year.
Ready to take your boat out and cast a line on the Alabama Gulf Coast? Start planning your next fishing trip to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach today!