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Hey guys how is everyone. I need some advice on sheepshead. They always steal my shrimp off the hook out at pier 60 and as a result im only catching a few. When should I set the hook? Should I set it hard or just kinda pull up? Im using a 1/0 circle hook on a 30lb flcarbon litr. Also...has anyone tried green muscles as bait? just heard about them on T.V.

Thanks !
 

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Do ya have to use circles down there? If sheepshead are known to nibble around the hook, circles might not be the best way to hook them. A regular baitholder or j-hook would probably work better. Also can you use stinger hooks down there? You can do this by snelling a smaller hook to the body of the main hook with some mono. Don't know if that might woirk, or not, but we use it for short-hitting fish sometimes.

I only fished shrimp a few time,s most times it was just a quick snap and the fish would be hooked. You also could be using a hook that's too big, what size are you using? Downsizing might help.
 

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Go down to a number 1 J hook, I think stinger hooks are prohibited for sheepshead and wouldn't really make any sense anyhow. Sheepshead will eat just about any crustacean, small fiddler crabs are best but mussels will also work. You can also cut down the flourocarbon to 15 lb test as some of the fish are leader shy. The trick is to get the fish to take the hook into his mouth with the bait. When they take a crab into their mouth, it is quickly crushed and the shells, and hook are spit out quickly.
 

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I have heard of circle hooke being used but I have never tried them on sheepshead. As mentioned prior, fiddler crabs work best. The trick, I hear, is to set the hook just before they bite!!
 

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This may sound facetious, but there is an old saying...when it comes to sheepshead, you have to set the hook just before they bite! In other words, you have to be quick or they will steal you blind. Use flouro for a leader, small bits of bait, the #1 j-hook, and hang the rod over the end and the line tight enough so you can feel the bite. It's tricky, I'll tell ya, but the meat is tasty and well worth it!
 

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Here's a tip to keep those shrimp on your hook when dealing with those convicts. ( got the tip from a fellow member).

Go to the bait shop and buy a dozen hand picked live shrimp.

Remove from bucket and pat try with a paper towel.

Layer the bottom of a plastic container with kosher salt.

Place shrimp on the salt layer and cover completely with remaining salt.

Place lid on container as store in refreg fro 48 hrs.

After 48 hours remove shrimp, rinse and repeat the above.

After another 48hrs the shells will slide off leaving a firm. shrimp. Use whole or a piece of shrimp that when cut will stay on your hook.

Unused shrimp will last for a year with no smell.

( you can turn on the bite by chumming. Use the weighted brown bag method. Works great at pier 60.)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
ive been using a 6'6 rod w/ 12lb mono & 30lb floro litr. 4500 spining reel, 1/0 circle small shrimp
 

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Like Eman. said in the earlier post, I think you can cut down on the # of your flouro leader and it will entice better strikes as well as give you better line "feel" or sensitivity. You definitely want to get away from a circle hook, they just spit those right back out. Also, I have found that smaller pieces of bait seem to work better than the whole shrimp.

The whole trick to hooking them is definitely in the timing, but a short quick wrist pop will do the trick. If you dont do it already, try letting the line rest on the tip of your index finger as your holding the rod. That way you get a direct signal of the bite from the line instead of relying on the feeling coming through the rod only.

I could fill a few trucks up with the amount of bait I have had stolen by those rascals over the years, but as Sprtsracer said, its well worth it when you get em to the plate.
 

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They do tend to swallow shrimp whole from what I've seen. I've heard if you put a small piece of thin surgical tubing on the hook, they're less likely to spit it out. I guess it feels like a piece of tough barnacle they want to digest. Never tried it.
 

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Interesting replies and so many different techniques. I guess I'll just add some more.

I've been successfully fishing for sheepshead for close to 10 years now.

First of all let me discuss hooks. I used to use J-hooks in the #1 thru #4 size depending on the size of the bait. I was convinced the J-hook was superior for the quick hook set which is needed for sheepies.

I had tried circle hooks in the past with inconsistent results. Now here is the deal with circles. The circles I had tried before were always either Owner Mutu or Gamikatsu Nautilus style. I caught some here and caught some there, but not really any much difference than the J-hooks. If anything my ratio of hookups with these style circle hooks was even less as others have posted.

However, recently in the last year or so, I have switched to using the Gamikatsu Octopus style circles in either #1 or #2 size for most sheepies.




They make the offset, shown above, and also an in-line version. I've had much the same success with both styles. However, the in-line are the kind now required for reef species in Florida's Gulf waters.

If I find some bigger fish visible in clear water I'll up my size to #1/0 or even #2/0 if the fish are big enough and I have large shrimp or crabs.

This hook is a circle, but it's more like a J-hook. It's in between the bent Mutu or Nautilus style and a true J-hook.




I get a much higher hookup ratio than even J-Hooks. This hook you can set like a J-hook, but it also has the circle effect. It's like having the best of both styles in one hook. My hook up ratio has increased so much that a Captain/guide buddy of mine, with four generations of fishing guide backround, invited me to film a half hour episode on sheepshead fishing on his outdoors fishing TV show.

This came about after a fishing trip off Homosassa, Florida when I sightcasted and hooked a nice four pound sheepie on my first cast while we were supposed to be grouper fishing a set of rock piles.

That convinced my guide buddy of skill with sheepies and perked his interest in the hooks that I now use. So to make a long story, long, I swear by the Gami Octopus circle hooks now for sheepshead and their other infamous bait stealing buddies, the snappers.

Now as far as leaders. I will use the lightest fluorocarbon I can get away with. Usually 15# or 20#. No need to go any lighter than 15#, at least not here in Florida. I know some that use 10#, but I don't think it is necessary and most of my sheepie fishing is done around pilings, oyster bars, and rock piles, so light leader gets beat up fast.

I will discuss baits in a further post as this one is getting too long and I need a break anyway.

Here's some pics, just so you guys know I can catch a sheepshead or two. LOL







 

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Interesting replies and so many different techniques. I guess I'll just add some more.

I've been successfully fishing for sheepshead for close to 10 years now.

First of all let me discuss hooks. I used to use J-hooks in the #1 thru #4 size depending on the size of the bait. I was convinced the J-hook was superior for the quick hook set which is needed for sheepies.

I had tried circle hooks in the past with inconsistent results. Now here is the deal with circles. The circles I had tried before were always either Owner Mutu or Gamikatsu Nautilus style. I caught some here and caught some there, but not really any much difference than the J-hooks. If anything my ratio of hookups with these style circle hooks was even less as others have posted.

However, recently in the last year or so, I have switched to using the Gamikatsu Octopus style circles in either #1 or #2 size for most sheepies.




They make the offset, shown above, and also an in-line version. I've had much the same success with both styles. However, the in-line are the kind now required for reef species in Florida's Gulf waters.

If I find some bigger fish visible in clear water I'll up my size to #1/0 or even #2/0 if the fish are big enough and I have large shrimp or crabs.

This hook is a circle, but it's more like a J-hook. It's in between the bent Mutu or Nautilus style and a true J-hook.




I get a much higher hookup ratio than even J-Hooks. My hook up ratio increased so much that a Captain/guide buddy of mine, with four generations of fishing guide backround, invited me to film a half hour episode on sheepshead fishing on his outdoors fishing TV show.

This came about after a fishing trip off Homosassa, Florida when I sightcasted and hooked a nice four pound sheepie on my first cast while we were supposed to be grouper fishing a set of rock piles.

That convinced my guide buddy of skill with sheepies and perked his interest in the hooks that I now use. So to make a long story, long, I swear by the Gami Octopus circle hooks now for sheepshead and their other infamous bait stealing buddies, the snappers.

Now as far as leaders. I will use the lightest fluorocarbon I can get away with. Usually 15# or 20#. No need to go any lighter than 15#, at least not here in Florida. I know some that use 10#, but I don't think it is necessary and most of my sheepie fishing is done around pilings, oyster bars, and rock piles, so light leader gets beat up fast.

I will discuss baits in a further post as this one is getting too long and I need a break anyway.







Good stuff to know. Thanks! I'll give them a shot.
 

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Good stuff to know. Thanks! I'll give them a shot.
I am not an expert on sheeps, but I am on Tautogs up north from shore. These two fish are almost identical in feeding, and in mouth structure. The best hookups come from Gamy inline circles, using spiked rods. I have many rods and have found that a rod that is soft, 9' or longer will get more hookups. Max on these rods are 3oz. and may be slightly overloaded at 3oz. The use of circles doesn't need a hook set, just a gentle sweep of the rod. A soft rod does this for you, when it is spiked. The rods are cheap and fiberglass. The fast action on my St Croix's looses hookups. sprtsracer I will be in Florida in a couple of weeks. Please PM me. How do you like the 806i.
 

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I am not an expert on sheeps, but I am on Tautogs up north from shore. These two fish are almost identical in feeding, and in mouth structure. The best hookups come from Gamy inline circles, using spiked rods. I have many rods and have found that a rod that is soft, 9' or longer will get more hookups. Max on these rods are 3oz. and may be slightly overloaded at 3oz. The use of circles doesn't need a hook set, just a gentle sweep of the rod. A soft rod does this for you, when it is spiked. The rods are cheap and fiberglass. The fast action on my St Croix's looses hookups. sprtsracer I will be in Florida in a couple of weeks. Please PM me. How do you like the 806i.
I love it! In fact, it's much better, IMO, than the Stradic FH! Where ya comin' to down here?
 

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That's great about the reel.

We will be flying into Tampa on the 14th. We are staying for a couple of days in Bradenton to wade fish Long Bar, then on Long Boat Key. After that I'm not sure yet. Probably Sanibel. I know you are on the east coast, tough to get together. A friend is flying down from Carolina Beach, and a member of the Holy Land Drinking Team from the inside of corner 5 at Elkhart is joining us from Wisconsin. Can I send or receive or send Private Messages on this site. I have PM'ed you several times. Do I need 15 posts, and or replies.
 

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Capt. Hook: Normally, I don't have a problem sending or receiving PM's. The only thing I can figure is that my puter was screwed up for 3-4 days. Not sure what happened, but it kept freezing, and then would only boot up in safe mode and therefore I couldn't access the internet. Any PM should have still come through though. I'll try to send you one in a minute and see what happens.
 
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