How to catch sheepshead fish? - FisherSense World
sheepshead fish

How to catch sheepshead fish?

Sheepshead fish, How to catch sheepshead fish
By George Van Zant

 sheepshead fish
sheepshead fish

Here We Start Discover the way on How to catch Sheephead Fish. Sheephead will be around when everything else is gone. Besides being great fighters on the hook and tasty when cooked, they have the ability to change their sex if needed.

All sheephead fish are born females. When necessary for reproduction and there is a shortage of males Mother Nature very simply changes selected females to males and maintains perpetuation of the tribe.

Male sheephead fish or “goats” reverently referred to by old anglers are very colorfully distinctive. Their pig like bodies is banded by black, white and red coloring on a body background of orange.

Large males have ponderous square foreheads with a knob on top. They have a full set of dog-like teeth for grabbing things and deep in their throat is a set of bone-like crunchers

meant for crushing clams and crabs. They are colorfully attractive but are grotesque and formable creatures. They can and do eat anything that moves into their area. That is anything without a hook in it.

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They are caught incidentally whenever the angler is fishing in the kelp area or hard bottom spots where he is in pursuit of yellowtail or calico bass. The large Goats are very suspicious of hooked baits and are very difficult to hook although the smaller females can be caught easily on almost any bait.

Most large fish are caught when live squid is available. They love to pounce on a live squid after the massive blue perch attack has left the squid tattered and shredded. They seem to be attracted by the frenzied action of the darting tearing perch, even more so than the attraction of the squid.

 sheepshead fish
sheepshead fish

If you want to target the goats specifically try some of the following techniques. The location is important. Since they live in the rocky kelp environment you have to focus on these areas.

The smaller fish can be pests in shallow water to 30 feet so look for a single large rock or area deeper than 50 feet. The 20-pound plus goats usually come from a hard bottom spot at least 80 to 150 feet deep.

25-pound test mono is the minimum for your line. Sheephead Fish is very proficient at running your line around the rock and they always fray the line even if they are landed.

Use large hooks to give pulling power against a hammered down drag. You cannot allow them to run off any line. After every hookup run twenty feet of the mono above the hook through your fingers to check for frays.

You can use traditional slip egg sinkers or sinkers stationary below a hook and leader. One method that�s been very successful, especially in deep water, is a two-foot leader placed 6 feet or more above the sinker tied to the end of the line.

For some reason, the fish like the bait presented up from the bottom. This has worked especially well at the oil well drilling platforms.

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All kinds of baits can be used but live or fresh squid is probably the most popular. Ghost shrimp or live red shrimp can produce just as well but these baits have to be purchased from bait stores and sometimes they are not available. The easiest and one of the top baits is a mussel.

Simply find a rock and pull off a clump of the clams and throw them into your bait tank.  The traditional method is to carve the mussel meat from the shell and place it on the hook but the meat is soft and sloppy and very easily falls off the hook.

Try crushing the shell just enough to see it oozing and hook it shell and all. The bait stays on the hook and attracts the sheephead fish in a more natural presentation. Don�t worry about the hardness and the bulkiness of the shell, goats will make short work of it with its� internal crusher.

The following recipe is what I use for fish chowder. Sheephead is really the best of all fish for chowder because It’s always very tender and less tough than other fish. The trick is to stir the potatoes vigorously, which gives it the traditional chowder thickness.

Sheephead Chowder

2 medium onions
Medium potatoes
2 cans chicken stock
1 cup milk
1 cup flour wash (1/2 cup flour-1/2 cup water)
2 1/2 quarts water
A small pack of sliced bacon, about 1 pound
salt and pepper to taste
Trappey’s Mexipep Hot Sauce, a small amount
4 to 6-quart kettle


1. Slice the bacon into 1/4 inch strips the width of slices. Braze it very slowly until it’s solid brown. Remove the browned bits with a slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel to drain. When they have cooled crush them into bits. Put aside until later. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease.

2. Chop the onions into 1/2-inch pieces and put them in the pot. Cook them slowly until they are clear, not browned.

3. Add the water and one can of the chicken stock.

4. Chop 3 potatoes into 1/2-inch squares and the other 3 potatoes into one-inch pieces and add them to the pot.

5. Cook about one hour at a slow boil.

6. Remove the pot from the heat and stir the potatoes until they thicken.  Add the remaining stock and milk return to the heat.

7. Mix the 1/2-cup flour into the 1/2-cup water stir until blended. Stir into the pot.

8. Shake in as much Mexipep as you dare and add as much sheephead as you want.

9. When the fish is cooked, serve in bowls with a spoon of bacon bits sprinkled on top complimented with oyster crackers. Freeze the leftover.

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