It’s still a month away, but it will be here before you know it.
The sixth annual Sheepshead Shootout, hosted by The Ships Chandler, is set to hit the water on Feb. 29 in Destin.
The last day to register for the one-day shootout is Feb. 28 with a $25 per angler entry fee for the winner take all event.
And the sheepshead bite should be heating up just in time.
“Sheepshead bite better when you get cooler temperatures,” said Pete Wright of The Ships Chandler. “They’ll stack up around the bridge and jetties. and it’s going to get better and better.”
As a matter of fact, “It always seems to be good right around Super Bowl Sunday,” Wright added.
The Super Bowl is scheduled for Feb. 2.
Out of the 92 anglers entered in the tournament last year, Choctaw Beach angler Richard Rogers won with an 8.01-pounder. It was the only sheepshead he caught all day, but it got the job done.
"If you’ve got one over 7 pounds you better weigh it in, because you never know,“ Wright said. “One year a 7-pounder will win it and then we’ll have 20 fish over 7 pounds weigh in and a 10-pounder will win it. You just never know.”
Either way, Wrights said they are still going to have a party afterwards at The Ships Chandler and give away some prizes.
In addition to the big winner for the overall fish, there will be an award for the junior and lady angler with the largest sheepshead as well.
“We’ll give away some Yeti coolers and some cool stuff,” he said.
Anglers can fish anywhere accessible by boat, kayak, SUP, or land, except areas designated as “off limits” or “no fishing” by local, state and federal officials, according to the Shootout rules.
However, the best spots are usually around the bridges and jetties. Sheepshead like to hang out around structures.
As for bait, artificial lures can be used as well as live bait. Rogers caught the winning sheepshead last year on a fiddler crab. Other baits that sheepshead tend to like are oysters and live shrimp.
Weigh-in for the tournament is from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. at The Ships Chandler. Only one fish, whole weight, per angler can be entered. Anglers can bring their fish by boat or by vehicle.
Fishing begins at 7 a.m. Any angler that has a line in the water prior to 7 a.m. on the day of the tournament will be disqualified with no refund.
In the event of bad weather, the anglers will be notified on the night prior to the tournament. If the tournament is called off, all entries will be refunded to the anglers.
“We always have a good turnout,” Wright said. “Worst case scenario you might not catch a fish, but you’ll still have some fun.”
Entry fee for the event needs to be dropped off at The Ships Chandler by 5 p.m. on Feb. 28.