In the southeastern states of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, the sheepshead is a popular fish targeted by anglers. Otherwise known as convict fish because of the black and white stripes along each side, they are known for strong battles and superb fillet quality. Despite the fish being present year-round, populations increase during particular fishing seasons. Learn the sheepshead fishing season. 

Where Are Sheepshead Found

When you are in search of sheepshead, think of inshore structure. When we say structure, we refer to objects extending from the seabed up to and above the water’s surface covered in barnacles.

The convict fish congregate in these areas because of the presence of food. Pilings draw crabs and fish where they seek shelter on the barnacle-covered pilings. 

You will likely see sheepshead cruising along artificial structures and oyster beds when you peer into the water. These types of fish provide excellent sight fishing opportunities. 

What Is The Sheepshead Fishing Season In Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina

While sheepshead is caught year-round and is in season annually through Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, specific months of the year are more productive.

Anglers in search of convict fish should focus their attention on the cold months. The most productive months for catching sheepshead are between December and April. During these months, the water temperatures drop to a level in which they become the most active. When the water temps range between 55 and 70 degrees, they come to the surface of the water. 

Sheepshead migrates to the bottom of creeks, bays, and channels where the water rushes in the summer. The convict fish migrates to seek cooler water temperatures. 

Remember that temperatures will decrease at an earlier point in time when fishing for North Carolina sheepshead when compared to Georgia sheepshead. Conversely, the water will remain cold for extended periods when entering the spring months. 

It is not uncommon to catch well over a dozen sheepshead in a single outing during the winter. Be prepared with an ice chest to keep the fresh catch cold. 

What Are The Sheepshead Regulations

Before you head out fishing, it is essential to read up on the fishing regulations. Understand the size and possession limits in the state you are fishing. Also, purchase a saltwater fishing license and keep it in your possession when fishing from shore or a boat. 

Read up on Georgias, South Carolinas, and North Carolinas fishing regulations and print out a copy to have the details on hand. 

One nearly identical fish is the black drum. It is essential to recognize the differences to avoid keeping the wrong fish with different size and bag limits. Read about how to tell the difference between a black drum and a sheepshead

What Do Sheepshead Eat

When asked what do sheepshead eat, the sheepshead has a vast appetite; therefore, there are multiple options for selecting the right bait.

The types of baits that are most readily available are shrimp, mullet but mole crabs otherwise called sand fleas and fiddler crabs are easily found and are highly effective for catching sheepshead. Oysters can also be utilized. Oysters are a staple in the fish’s diet from the robust set of dentures in their mouth, allowing them to enter the shell.

Anglers need to be aware of the fish’s teeth. Always tie heavy leader line to avoid cut-offs when the fish strikes the bait. 

Sheepshead Fishing Tips

Not only is there a best time to catch sheepshead but also certain gear and tackle when targeting the toothy critter.

Before venture on a boat or to the bank pick up the best available for catching the fish. Secondly, determine the sheepshead season to avoid keeping them when and if they are illegal to possess.

When winter sheepshead fishing wear clothes to withstand the elements when they are most abundant. Secondly, use these sheepshead fishing techniques.

Select a 4000 size spinning rod and medium weight rod for tackling the sheepshead especially along pilings or other sharp objects.

Chose leader line in excess of 30 pounds to prevent the sharp human like teeth of a sheepshead to cut through and break free.

Bait a circle hook beneath a popping cork and site cast when sheepshead are visibly seen swimming long docks or structures.

Be prepared with a net to lift the fish from the water into the boat or on the land. Remove the hook with fishing pliers to prevent injury to the fingers.

What Is The Taste And Texture Of A Sheepshead Fillet

When it comes to the quality of fillets because of taste and texture sheepshead are challenging to pass up when caught in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

The fillets of a sheepshead are described as having a taste similar to shellfish because it is a primary staple of the diet and are also delicious and sweet. Because of the taste and texture, the sheepshead is prepared multiple ways including broiling, frying, baking, and grilling.

Are You Prepared For the Sheepshead Fishing Season

As the air temperatures begin to fall and the fall turns to winter, use this as your calendar for convict fish fishing to heat up. The fillets are delicious as a result of the crustacean-rich diet. In the winter, the action can be non stop so be prepared to spend time at the fillet table. Bring your friends and family in on the action but be sure to purchase a saltwater fishing license.