Amazing Tips On How To Catch Sheepshead

Is sheepshead going to be your next catch to add a new experience in your fishing diaries?

Well, there is no doubt that this inshore member of family porgy is one of the notorious bait stealers on jetties. Sheepshead is a flat, thick fish having notable black bars on their grayish to the white body.

These notorious stealers of bait are even known as convict fish. The mouth consists of large projecting teeth which are quite similar to that of sheep.

However, the spines on the dorsal as well as the anal fins of this species are known to be much heavy and sharp. You would have to be very careful while catching the fish for avoiding the tips of the fins.


Hence, to help you apprehend the right technique, we have come up with a list of how to catch sheepshead along with other valuable information. Just continue reading to know more about it.

What You Will Need

# Fishing Reels

Sheepsheads are generally found in 2-5 pounds, and very rarely you could find one with 10 pounds.

Hence, the fish's size would not be a big concern while selecting a reel. The essential thing that you would have to consider is that this species is exclusively caught around jagged, thick cover.

Bait-casting reels and saltwater inshore spinning reels would be the two great options for catching Sheepshead.

However, you would have to make sure that the reel has the capacity of handling 10-20 pounds line and consists of sufficient torque for moving the fish away from the cover fast.

This is the product that could be considered for catching sheepshead:

1. KastKing Royale Legend Baitcasting Fishing Reel

# Fishing Rods

It could be difficult to detect the gentle bite of Sheepshead if your fishing rod is not perfect.

A good rod for this fish would have a medium-action backbone for rendering sufficient power for a superior hook set as well as for moving the sheepshead away from cover.

The rod would have to even possess light to medium light tip for offering sensitivity. Your rod would have to match the reel and rated for 10 to 20-pound line. 

However, it would be important to ensure that the rod is saltwater rated so as to prevent corrosion that can result in a rough surface. This could, in turn, weaken the line’s integrity.

You could select any of these rods for catching your target:

1. St. Croix Tidemaster Inshore Casting Rods

# Fishing Line

  • The braided line in 12 to 20-pound class would be a good option for catching Sheepshead.
  • These lines have greater sensitivity, abrasion resistance and won’t stretch under load.

Such features would help the anglers to attain a good hook set, and feel the gentle bite.

You would be able to move away from the fish from the cover without stretching the line and let them go back to it.

The only thing the braided lines would need is the leader. A 20-pound fluorocarbon leader of about 10-15 inches would be better to use.

You could consider purchasing one of these two lines for sheepshead:

1. Daiwa Samurai Braided Line-Green

# Tackle

Many kinds of hooks would work perfect for catching Sheepshead.

These fishes possess powerful jaws and sharp teeth and could easily break weak or thin hooks.

Hence, a razor sharp hook would be the best option for this notorious fish.

Moreover, the hook would have to be smaller to fit perfectly in the fish's small mouth. This is the product that you could consider to buy

# Fishing Bait

Fiddler crabs would be the best bait for these sharp teeth fish, Sheepshead. You would find this crab in significant numbers.

However, live ones would be better options, but frozen ones would even do well.

Mud crabs, live shrimps, oysters, sand fleas, and clams would be the other great bait options for this fish.

Step-by-Step Instructions: How to Catch Sheepshead

Step 1: Casting Down

Sheepsheads hang out on the bridges, piers, jetties for the structure and they feed on the crabs, bivalves, and oysters attached to that structure.

Hence, you would have to cast beneath you or even little below the structure directly to reach the territory of Sheepshead. Start with softly lowering the bait you considered up-current of where the fish is feeding.

You would have to let the current move the bait in the striking zone and provide proper attention to the rod and line for symptoms of bite.

Step 2: Lifting The Rod

Maximum bits of Sheepshead are very acute. They don’t attack the bait quickly as most of the other fishes do.

Shepherds approach the bait very slowly and methodically. Once you detect the bite, a quick set of the hook will be required. Slowly and steadily you would have to lift the tip of the rod till you feel some pressure.

And as soon as you feel it, you would have to start reeling quickly till your catch hook itself.

Step 3: Landing The Fish

As soon as the fish takes the bait in the mouth, it would start to get back to cover engulfing the bait.

You would see your line moving slightly in water to the right or left. This would be the correct time to strike. You would have to start pulling the fish jerking your right hand to prevent the fish from going back in cover thereby breaking the leader.

And likewise, your catch would be in front of you. However, you would have to be very careful while holding the fish as it has 12 sharp spines and three big anal spines.

Where to Catch Sheepshead

Sheepshead could be found in nearly all saltwater inshore body during the fall-spring. Whether it is coastal creeks, rivers, bays or lagoons, you would find this fish species in sufficient numbers easily.

Sheepshead fish

The bigger fishes are known to move offshore when the temperature of water gets high during summer while the small fishes tend to remain inshore.

  • Sheepshead is known to forage on crustaceans for most of the time.
  • They mainly feed on encrusted shellfish, crabs, and barnacles. Such a diet indicates that you would found them frequently around bridge pilings, dock, oyster beds, rock piles, and all other places which would hold crabs or barnacles.

When you look in the water, you will find that these fishes are turning sideways for picking crustaceans from the structure.

If by any chance the fish is not visible, finding a place of adequate structure and chum the place by sweeping barnacles, or throwing frozen shrimp or crushed oysters in the water would be a great option.

  • You would have to use super sharp hooks to catch sheepshead
  • It would be better to use potential upward movement for setting the hook
  • Sheepsheads are great thieves of bait, hence, be sure to bring abundant baits.
Pro Tips to Catch Effectively


Well, this was all that our list of how to catch sheepshead consists of. These notorious bait thieves could be found in sufficient numbers and would be even easy to find.

But the bites of these fishes are very gentle, and it would be likely to miss the bit if not attentively observed.

We hope that our tips mentioned above and technique of catching sheepshead would provide you a good knowledge about them and experience a successful fishing day.

However, if you have any suggestions regarding this, you can let us know in the comments below.

Ted Thomas

Hi there, I'm Ted Thomas, an ardent adventure writer. I write for readers with a genuine interest in enjoying the great outdoors. By sharing my experiences camping, hunting and fishing, I hope to inspire others to fully explore the depths of their passion.

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