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Fish Anna Maria Island With A Local Charter Fishing Guide

Anna Maria Fishing Report-January 2019

Anna Maria Fishing Report-January 2019

—Late January usually finds some pretty good sheepshead fishing here around Anna Maria Island and Tampa Bay, and 2019 is no exception. Sheepshead are a great winter-time target. They will feed aggressively when most of our other local species are sluggish from the cold water. Sheepshead are also fantastic on the plate, sporting firm, white, flaky fillets.

Sheepshead near the docks

—Sheepshead will eat a variety of forage; from barnacles, algae, shrimp, crabs, mussels, and many other shellfish and crustaceans. This makes them extremely adaptable to different environments. The most common areas to search for these striped bandits are adjacent to dramatic vertical structure, such as dock or bridge abutments or pilings. These structures attract the growth of various barnacles, oysters, algae, crabs, shrimps, etc, which in turn, draws attention from the sheepshead. 

—I target these consummate bait stealers using the lightest approach possible. Sheepshead have great eyesight, and will shy away from most moderate to heavy tackle. I use light 20# fluorocarbon leader, a size #1 short shank Mustad #3407 hook, and light split shot weight for catching sheepies around docks and seawalls. 

In deeper water, say around deep bridges, or over an artificial reef, I will scale up to 25#/30# fluorocarbon leader, same #1 hook, and a 1 oz. sliding weight, rigged “knocker-rig style”, with the weight on the bottom of the rig, sliding just above the hook. It is pretty typical for us to have some long periods of relatively “snotty” fishing weather here around Anna Maria Island from January through March. On days that it is just too rough or windy to do much else, there is a good chance that I can keep us out of the worst of the weather, and catch some delicious sheepshead.

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