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Capt. Judy: Sheepshead and rustproof tackle boxes
Capt. Judy 1/14
Captain Garrett Ross of Miss Judy Charters with Scott and Caressa Magnus of Bethlehem, Ga. They caught fish. Photo provided.

Inshore report:

While inshore fishing with Captain Garrett Ross of Miss Judy Charters, Scott and Caressa Magnus, of Bethlehem, Georgia, had a great time.

Yes, it was cold, yes, it was windy, yes, it was cloudy, and yes they still had a fun time!

And here’s the thing that we would like to report about this inshore fishing day. Yes, they caught some very nice red fish and spotted sea trout, but conditions made it tough going! So, therefore Captain Garrett did the go to spot and worked it over in a roundabout way for about 15 minutes. His plan worked out!

As I reported they caught, kept, and released some nice fish. However, each drop visited only produced a few early arrival fish catching opportunities. What does this mean? Once situated at the fishing spot, they got a few hits, caught a few fish, and then the bite subdued. So on this fish day, once this group arrived, they fished the spot for a few minutes, and then moved on. What did we all learn from this report? On some cold days the fish are only interested for the first couple of minutes. So it is suggested not to over soak your baits or overstay your welcome! Why? There are more finicky fish most likely waiting at the next scheduled drop!

Moral of this report: Don’t give up, even when conditions are not favorable, just keep moving, and enjoy the fact that you are fishing in the first place.

Near shore and offshore artificial reefs report: The sheepshead season is in full biting swing.

The best places to target this fish is anywhere near or offshore over any sort of structure. And it doesn’t matter whether it is rocks, wood, or natural! Why? All of these types of structure provide plenty of marine growth opportunity. The old sheepshead loves to eat anything that comes wrapped in a shell. What does this boil down to in the baiting up department? Barnacles, mussels, fiddlers (purple flat back, etc), stone crabs, and shrimp When it comes to using shrimp as bait I suggest going with the freshest that you have.

The fresh shrimp, once cut up in bite size pieces, are the toughest and will stay on the hook the best. However, shrimp is not the best bait, because its popular smell and taste attracts all fish from small to large. Now don’t get me wrong, all fish will eat a fiddler also, but it seems when used as bait that it brings on a sheepshead bite much quicker. So therefore why not bring along the bait that works the best and that would be a fiddler!

Now, the sheepshead has for years gone down as one of those fish that offers up a very tricky feeding pattern.

This fish’s strange feeding way most likely is what brought on my father’s suggestion always offered, “You got to set the hook before the sheepshead hits!” I used to always shake my head when he would make that statement, but in theory he is right!

Why? In my opinion, when I am fishing for sheepshead, I feel the fish when it is situating itself before it strikes. Who knows it could be a flick of a fin or tail or the push of water that puts me on notice! No matter it happens and when it does, I simply raise my rod tip up, which sometimes results in a hook up or not. And here’s the thing you must know...if after this occurrence you are not hooked up believe me when I say, “You are either completely bait less or you are fishing with an empty fiddler shell!”

Please remember that a sheepshead can strike, suck the meat completely out of your crab, and leave the empty shell still hanging on the hook. This I have seen not a dozen times, but over the years hundreds of times.

If you want to get your best chance at catching a sheepshead I am going to always suggest situating your boat over the structure. This can be accomplished by anchoring or motoring in place. I suggest anchoring to be your best method. When dropping down your fiddler you always either want to be over or next to the structure that you are fishing. I also suggest that once anchored and you see structure on the fish finder, to stay put. Why?

First the old sheepshead is known to feed and move on. Second, the old sheepshead sometimes moves with the school, which means, once you catch one or miss one they all could move as a group. Third, where you have one sheepshead you got more sheepshead! Fourth, a sheepshead once migrated offshore seems to feed in a circular motion around the reef, which it is considering home base at least for the moment.

How long is a sheepshead moment? Could be the time it takes to blink an eye!

Believe it or not:

My father Captain Sherman I. Helmey was known as a very avid fisherman. Now, I have to admit that some of his fishing tactics at first were a little laughable. However, after him coming to the dock with the biggest fish for the day and maybe the month the laughing certainly did stop. And when that stopped the asking of many questions started and didn’t stop.

My father and I made a great fishing team. I loved how we would get packed up and off we would go on another fishing adventure.

My father always smoked a big cigar. When he would get a big fish on, a special grin would appear on his face, and the smoke would form a circle around his head.

My father’s favorite cigar was the King Edward brand.

Not only did he love the cigars the old king made he also loved the boxes they came packed in. In fact, all of the boxes were saved and put to a great use. Daddy only put one thing in the empty cigar boxes and that was his favorite tackle. Our old wooden boat’s big dash as you probably guessed was lined with cigar boxes. Not only did they all look alike he also knew their exact contents. Even when he was in a hurry, he would always grab the right box. I guess it’s funny now that you think about it; it was my father’s own special brand of tackle box. I know I should have patented this wonderful idea. They were great non-rusting throwaway tackles boxes.

Thanks for reading! Captain Judy

Capt. Judy is a local captain. She can be reached at 912-897-4921 or Fishjudy2@

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