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Sheepshead Haul

As old man winter settles down upon us here on the beautiful Georgia coast, the attuned anglers attention turns to sheepshead. Also known as convict fish on account of their black and white striped torso, sheepshead are a true coastal Georgia delicacy and a challenging fish to catch. Blessed with flaky meat and the will to put up a good fight, sheepshead fishing in Georgia is exceptional in the winter months. Sheepshead are equipped with eerily human teeth and spend their time searching for bivalves and fiddler crabs to eat. They use their large teeth to crack open their prey. Sheepshead can grow in size up to 30 inches. Along the coast here in St Marys around Cumberland Island, catches of large sheepshead in the 10 pound range are not uncommon. Sheepshead inhabit waters around docks, bridge pilings, and jetties. Anywhere they can find a good population of barnacles and small crabs and bivalves you'll find sheepshead. And in winter their numbers will be good due to grouping in preparation for the late winter spawn. St Marys, Georgia is an ideal fishing location for sheepshead due to the St Marys jetties which extend off the coast of Cumberland Island for nearly a mile into the ocean. The jetties are long line of large stones stacked on top of each other. They form a barrier between Cumberland Island and Amelia island and the St Marys River. The St Marys jetties help prevent beach erosion and protect the coastline from the brutal currents and tides of the open ocean. There is a north and a south jetty. Truly a marvel of engineering especially in light of the fact that they are over 100 years old. The tops of the rocks that protrude above the water are like the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Beneath the water the rocks sit stacked on top of each other and the base widens as it goes deeper into the ocean. Ideal fish and crustacean habitat. The fishing at the St Marys jetties is legendary. In addition to the jetties, there is a sprawling web of inlets and estuaries on the Georgia coast. In fact a third of the existing marsh on the east coast of the United States lies in coastal Georgia. These estuaries and marshes provide the ideal nursery grounds for sheepshead as they begin their spawn in late winter and early spring. The frigid water is no deterrent to them, making sheepshead an ideal target fish during the colder months of the year. Fiddler crabs are the bait of choice. Georgia marshes are loaded with these diminutive crustaceans. They burrow deep in the pluff mud, coming out at low tide to feed. Male fiddler crabs are distinguished by their lone large claw, appearing like a fiddle. Sheepshead can be tricky to catch. True to their convict name, they are bonafide master bait stealers. Owing it to their teeth, they grab a dangling fiddler ever so gently, squeezing the shell to get the meat. Once they have gotten the meat they will spit the shell and hook back out. They do not grab and run like most fish. Sheepshead will sit in place, grinding on the bait like an old man sitting on the couch with a bag of Doritos. The trick is to know what to feel for as you fish. Using a short leader can help. Our guide service can teach you exactly what to feel for when you are fishing for sheepshead. Once you get the hang of it you will be loading the boat with these tasty fish. After a long and productive day on the water you will have built up quite an appetite. When you get your catch to shore, it is time to eat. Sit back and relax and enjoy the mild coastal Georgia wintertime weather. Take in some sights and sounds. Enjoy the peace and quiet of downtown St Marys, Georgia. Below are a couple of recipe links for your sheepshead haul. Dig in and happy fishing.

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Coastal Georgia is home to world class fishing as well as world class beauty. Get the picture. You’ve set out on a charter fishing trip off the docks at St. Marys, Georgia. Lunch is packed and drinks

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