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Gulf of Mexico, Florida Spanish Mackerel and Sheepshead action.

Posted on December 26th, 2013
Sheepshead are plentiful on many of Florida's Gulf artificial reels.  They are fun to catch fishing near the bottom and make for excellent eating!
Sheepshead are plentiful on many of Florida’s Gulf artificial reels. They are fun to catch fishing near the bottom and make for excellent eating!

After several days of strong winds and very low tides, I finally had a chance to head out to the Gulf of Mexico today to fish one of the many artificial reefs.  I was not disappointed.  The winds were still blowing up to about 14 knots, but I had no problem controlling the boat over the main structure by using the 80 lb. thrust Auto Pilot Minn Kota.  Locating the structure and keeping myself on it was easy with the Humminbird 800 series sonar.

I started fishing in about 30′ of water 3 miles out in the gulf when I hooked my first sheepshead.  I ended up keeping about 6 nice fish and then decided to target Spanish Mackerel by trolling some 1/4 & 3/8 oz. Blue Fox spoons.  I used the Rapala Shift rod with a Rapala reel filled with Sufix 832 20 lb. braid and a 1 oz. drop-shot rig/chunks of live shrimp for bait.

Spanish Mackerel hit aggressively and feed in schools.  A wire leader is a must when targeting these fish in open-water.  If trolling, they love a fast 4-5 mph trolling speed.
Spanish Mackerel hit aggressively and feed in schools. A wire leader is a must when targeting these fish in open-water. If trolling, they love a fast 4-5 mph trolling speed.

For the mackerel I fished the Rapala Magnum series Baja 4-piece saltwater spinning rod matched with the large Rapala Xi spinnig reel and loaded with Sufix 832, 20 lb. test line and Terminator Titanium leader.

A nice catch of Spanish Mackerel.  These fish like to feed in schools, so when you hook one, keep working the same are and you are most likely to hook more.
A nice catch of Spanish Mackerel. These fish like to feed in schools, so when you hook one, keep working the same are and you are most likely to hook more.

I ended up limiting out on the  Spanish Mackerel in a few hours and headed back in.  We ended up having a deliceous grilled mackerel/rice/tomato salad for dinner.  For tomorrow I already marinating some of the Sheepshead to grill.

Sheepshead have nice white, firm meat and taste great either grilled or deep-fried!
Sheepshead have nice white, firm meat and taste great either grilled or deep-fried!

The plan tomorrow is to target Spotted Sea Trout and possibly Redfish if the tide is not too shallow.

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