Sheepshead Fishing: Range
Sheepshead-fish belong to the Sparidae or sea bream family. Sheepshead Porgy are particularly abundant in the coastal Georgia Barrier Islands from the Savannah River to the St. Mary’s jetties. They are year-round residents and often a targeted species in the cooler fall and winter months.
Sheepshead Fishing: Habitat
Sheepshead are a vertical structure-oriented fish, favoring structures with large growths of barnacles over oyster and sand beds. Common habitats include inshore rock piles, mangrove roots, oyster bars, dock and bridge pilings, near-shore natural and artificial reefs, and navigational buoys.
Sheepshead Fishing: Patterns
Sheepshead fish are fresh water tolerant and can often be found in brackish water areas. Sheepshead-fish are known to spend short periods in coastal freshwater creeks. This fresh water tolerance makes young juvenile Sheepshead great for saltwater tanks, as an alpha fish for your saltwater aquarium.
Sheepshead Fishing: Bait
Sheepshead fish feed primarily on crustaceans, all though they will occasionally feed on plant matter and even small fish. Prey items commonly include many species of small crab, oysters, clams, or barnacles. Sheepshead use their teeth to open the shells of these creatures by nipping at them, crushing the shells, and exposing the bi-valves soft meat inside. In fact it is their teeth, which resemble a sheep’s teeth, that give the Sheepshead fish their name.
Sheepshead Fishing: Where
Finding Sheepshead in areas with large amounts of crabs and barnacle growth is common in the Georgia Sea Islands. Hard-surfaced vertical structures that give crustaceans and muscles something to anchor to are ideal; piers, docks, bridges, downed trees, jetties or oyster bars. With a boat you can reach navigation buoys, private docks, long submerged rock piles and reefs, especially established artificial reefs with large populations of old barnacle growth.
Sheepshead Fishing: How-To
Not all inshore or nearshore structure is created equal. Sometimes a specific dock may be covered in Sheepshead fish, while the next dock has none. A large piling or cluster of pilings will hold many fish, while a piling mere feet away will not hold any fish. To further add to the Sheepshead puzzle, some pilings or docks will be overrun with Sheepshead fish during a rising tide phase, and then void of all sea life when the tide changes.
Sheepshead Fishing: Tips
So how do you find the best place to catch Sheepshead? Knowledge. Only by trial or error will you find the secret Sheepshead holes. Once you find a good drop, it will be a productive Sheepshead spot for life. Always record notes on when, where, and how you catch Sheepshead fish, including additional: tide phase, moon phase, water and air temperatures, weather conditions, time of day etc. Log books are something every angler should keep, as they will prove to be invaluable to fisherman. They can make the difference between a full saltwater cooler and a nice boat ride.