If you want to enjoy some good time fishing on the coast of the Big Bend, Sheepshead might be one of your options. They are considered one of the most important coastal trophy fish. Their most common habitat is coastal waters near structures such as oyster bars, seawalls, and in tidal creeks. Most are in the 2-3lb range but are often caught in excess 6-8lbs and even up to 10lbs. More Typically, they move nearshore during March and April for spawning. Their season is open all year round. Their minimum size limit is 12”, with a daily recreational bag limit of 8 fish per harvester. A vessel limit of 50 fish during March and April (spawning and aggregation season). You can have access and download the complete Sheepshead recreational fishing regulation at https://www.flrules.org/gateway/ChapterHome.asp?Chapter=68B-59
What you need
The legal gear permitted to catch Sheepshead includes hook and line, cast net, seine, spear, or gig (https://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/sheepshead/). Experienced anglers like to use a rod 6-7ft medium action with a light touch so you can feel the delicate bite of a sheepshead. Also, recommend a mid-sized spinning reel in the 12lb size range. You can use either mono or braid as your line. Because of the composition of a sheepshead mouth and all the teeth they have, it is recommended to use a very small J hook instead of a circle hook (most likely used for any other sportfish).
They are omnivorous feeders (eat anything they can catch) but mostly feed on crustaceans and small fish. While a big variety of baits will work, fiddler crabs are best, small live shrimp, sand fleas, and oysters (but they might be difficult to keep in the hook). They will bite on the incoming or outgoing tide but tend to bite best on the outgoing tide. It is prohibited to harvest by or with the use of any multiple hooks in conjunction with live or dead natural bait; also, snatching is prohibited.
Sheepshead might be confused with the Black Drum due to coloration and stripes pattern. However, remember that Sheepshead has a terminal mouth full of “human-like” teeth, a continuous dorsal fin, and a forked caudal fin. While the Black Drum has an inferior mouth, a two-segments dorsal fin, and a truncated caudal fin.