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Late Spring 2016 Sheepshead primer
04-15-2016, 08:40 AM
Post: #1
Late Spring 2016 Sheepshead primer
The Sheepshead – aka Freshwater Drum

   

Over time I’ve caught many of these – usually when targeting something else.

They are strong and can pull amazingly well. In fact I’d say they fight much harder than a Largemouth of equal weight. Their wide compressed body and paddle shaped tail aid them here, particularly in a current. However, they are not known for super long duration seesaw battles.

The current Ontario record catch is a 21.5 pound beast (35” long) that was caught in the Bay of Quinte. This is not the norm, regular catches average usually in the 2 to 4 pound range in rivers.
They are in all the southern Great Lakes and tribs. (Upper St. Lawrence River, Ottawa River, Lake Abitibi, Lake Nipissing, Lakes Ontario, Erie, St. Clair and tributaries, southern Lake Huron). The Grand has many.

They are late spring/ early summer spawners (water at 18C-25C) so concentrations and fishing success for them peaks in late May through June. Their preferred temperature ranges is 24C-28C so they don’t get sluggish or go deep (like some of the more popular gamefish) in the hot summer months. I haven’t caught many in the fall.

Most of the fish I have caught were taken near bottom. They usually are found over sandy to hard bottom or mixed rubble/clay areas below flats or current breaks. They prefer low to moderate current but will sit behind obstructions in stronger currents.

For bait – worms or crayfish work well – use circle hooks to avoid deep hooking. They will aggressively strike smaller lures - spinners, spoons, cranks and tubes (their mouths are small so keep size down). I do recall catching a few small ones on dry flies. They seem to avoid weedy areas and dead water.

They prefer clear water, but tolerate water that may become murky or muddy at times of the year. They can see well but are aided in their hunts by a long lateral line and large ear bones providing them increased sensing/hearing (tip – use rattles in cranks).

Opinions vary greatly on their table qualities, and smaller fish are more popular. Personally – I prefer other fish for my meals.

It is interesting that these fish do eat Zebra Mussels, and while they won’t stop that problem – I have read they have no doubt slowed it down or reduced the severity.

For tackle any medium light rig and line is great……….. and ultra-light is a blast.

Maybe I should target them…………… I’ll probably catch something else…………smile.

Cheers,

OldTimer

<>< I once gave up fishing. It was the most terrifying weekend of my life. ><>

See you on the river.
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ray6591 (06-15-2016)
04-15-2016, 10:28 PM
Post: #2
RE: Late Spring 2016 Sheepshead primer
A few years back, a couple friends and I were in Fort Erie fishing the river by the marina. All we were catching were the occasional small perch but mostly gobies, gobies and more gobies. In a fit of frustration one friend stomped on one and then cast it out, secretly hoping for some gobie on gobie action. Within seconds he had a jarring bite and landed a 5lb. drum. After that we all caught drum, provided we caught a gobie first.
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04-16-2016, 07:45 AM (This post was last modified: 04-16-2016 07:54 AM by OldTimer.)
Post: #3
RE: Late Spring 2016 Sheepshead primer
(04-15-2016 10:28 PM)Deadfisher Wrote:  A few years back, a couple friends and I were in Fort Erie fishing the river by the marina. All we were catching were the occasional small perch but mostly gobies, gobies and more gobies. In a fit of frustration one friend stomped on one and then cast it out, secretly hoping for some gobie on gobie action. Within seconds he had a jarring bite and landed a 5lb. drum. After that we all caught drum, provided we caught a gobie first.

It is illegal to use goby as bait in Ontario and New York State - and will fetch you a healthy fine of up to 500+ bucks.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/on...-1.2726903

https://www.ontario.ca/document/ontario-...ns-summary

http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/47282.html


   

<>< I once gave up fishing. It was the most terrifying weekend of my life. ><>

See you on the river.
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06-14-2016, 06:25 PM
Post: #4
RE: Late Spring 2016 Sheepshead primer
That's all my and my friends caught at Port Maitland. Between the five of us we caught 27 in 9 hours.
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06-14-2016, 09:44 PM
Post: #5
RE: Late Spring 2016 Sheepshead primer
(04-15-2016 08:40 AM)OldTimer Wrote:  The Sheepshead – aka Freshwater Drum



Over time I’ve caught many of these – usually when targeting something else.

They are strong and can pull amazingly well. In fact I’d say they fight much harder than a Largemouth of equal weight. Their wide compressed body and paddle shaped tail aid them here, particularly in a current. However, they are not known for super long duration seesaw battles.

The current Ontario record catch is a 21.5 pound beast (35” long) that was caught in the Bay of Quinte. This is not the norm, regular catches average usually in the 2 to 4 pound range in rivers.
They are in all the southern Great Lakes and tribs. (Upper St. Lawrence River, Ottawa River, Lake Abitibi, Lake Nipissing, Lakes Ontario, Erie, St. Clair and tributaries, southern Lake Huron). The Grand has many.

They are late spring/ early summer spawners (water at 18C-25C) so concentrations and fishing success for them peaks in late May through June. Their preferred temperature ranges is 24C-28C so they don’t get sluggish or go deep (like some of the more popular gamefish) in the hot summer months. I haven’t caught many in the fall.

Most of the fish I have caught were taken near bottom. They usually are found over sandy to hard bottom or mixed rubble/clay areas below flats or current breaks. They prefer low to moderate current but will sit behind obstructions in stronger currents.

For bait – worms or crayfish work well – use circle hooks to avoid deep hooking. They will aggressively strike smaller lures - spinners, spoons, cranks and tubes (their mouths are small so keep size down). I do recall catching a few small ones on dry flies. They seem to avoid weedy areas and dead water.

They prefer clear water, but tolerate water that may become murky or muddy at times of the year. They can see well but are aided in their hunts by a long lateral line and large ear bones providing them increased sensing/hearing (tip – use rattles in cranks).

Opinions vary greatly on their table qualities, and smaller fish are more popular. Personally – I prefer other fish for my meals.

It is interesting that these fish do eat Zebra Mussels, and while they won’t stop that problem – I have read they have no doubt slowed it down or reduced the severity.

For tackle any medium light rig and line is great……….. and ultra-light is a blast.

Maybe I should target them…………… I’ll probably catch something else…………smile.

Cheers,

OldTimer

OldTimer, Thanks for this great information. One thing I did not understand is "Dead Water"? Thanks
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06-15-2016, 06:17 AM
Post: #6
RE: Late Spring 2016 Sheepshead primer
Dead water = still water with no current.

<>< I once gave up fishing. It was the most terrifying weekend of my life. ><>

See you on the river.
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06-15-2016, 06:23 AM
Post: #7
RE: Late Spring 2016 Sheepshead primer
Thanks.
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06-15-2016, 10:19 AM
Post: #8
RE: Late Spring 2016 Sheepshead primer
The sheephead really is a strong fish. i think its one of the strongest fighting fish I've personally experienced. The biggest one I caught was in Lake Nippissing about 5 years ago. I was trolling the bottom with a jighead and a worm. Hoping to get some Walleye but instead i got a crazy fight that gave my 8lbs pound test a run for it's money. I havent seen any since around my area but im sure they are there. I tried them as food and the result was... ok. I meant he meat was much firmer in texture than I wanted but the taste wasn't bad.

Heres a pic of the Sheephead Smile

[Image: ekZmLNe.jpg]
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06-15-2016, 03:29 PM
Post: #9
RE: Late Spring 2016 Sheepshead primer
Perhaps try my Round Goby recipe on your next catch:

From a post a few years back - just replace the goby with a 4 medium size sheepshead:

"Campfire Gobey Recipe:

20 good sized Gobey fish - gutted
1/2 cup corn/vegetable oil or 2 sticks of butter
1 tsp. black pepper
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 lime quartered
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
Quart of tequila.

Build an open fire using only hickory. While the fire is burning down to gray coals, clean fish and cut almost through the back bone from end to end so that it can be laid out flat. Obtain a yellow poplar board, approximately 12"x36". Soak board in water overnight. Place the gobey, skin side down, in a tight row starting about 6" from one end of the board. Nail the fish to the board, using large headed roofing nails. In a small saucepan, melt the butter (or oil) and add the pepper and lemon, and spices. Simmer covered for 5 minutes.
Baste the fish liberally with the lemon butter, being sure that some sauce runs between the board and the fish. When the fire has burned down to coals, lean the board over the coals, fish side down, using a small stick to prop the board up. Baste liberally every 5 minutes, being sure that some sauce runs underneath the fish. Cook 40 to 50 minutes until fish flakes easily. Remove nails, throw all the fish back in the river and eat the board, bite lime - drink Tequila (salt lick optional).

Doancha jus luv love BBQ!

Cheers,

OldTimer "


Cheers,

OldTimer

............smile

<>< I once gave up fishing. It was the most terrifying weekend of my life. ><>

See you on the river.
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06-15-2016, 03:57 PM
Post: #10
RE: Late Spring 2016 Sheepshead primer
that sounds like a stellar recipe for any fish really. Mm, gonna have to try this one. i dont get Sheephead so often but will give it a try!
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