After a crazy wet, foggy and at times cold winter, it’s time to get the rod and reels out and get reeling.
As a matter of fact, this Saturday about 100 anglers will be competing in the sixth annual Sheepshead Shootout at The Ships Chandler.
The last day to register for the one-day shootout was Feb. 28 with a $25 per angler entry fee for the winner take all event. So if you’re reading this Saturday morning you missed out, but you can drop by The Ships Chandler and watch the weighins.
The competition should be stiff, with the winning fish, I’m guessing, in the 8- to 9-pound range.
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. Word is he will be back in the hunt for the big sheepshead again this year.
Fishing begins at 7 a.m. with weigh-in taking place at The Ships Chandler between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. if you want to come hang out and just watch.
The Shootout is not the only thing on tap this weekend. March 1 marks the opening of triggerfish season.
Triggerfish will be open from March 1 through May 1 in Gulf state and federal waters.
If you plan to fish for triggerfish in Gulf state or federal waters, excluding Monroe County, from a private recreational vessel, you must sign up as a Gulf Reef Fish Angler (annual renewal is required). To learn more, visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Reef Fish Survey” under “Reef Fish.”
However, if you are chartering a trip with one of Destin’s finest, just hop aboard and get ready to reel. Word is the triggerfish are thick.
The limit for triggerfish is one per person and must measure 15 inches to keep.
Triggerfish are not really a pretty fish, but they are mighty fine to eat.
Also be mindful that NOAA Fisheries recently announced that triggerfish fishery is estimated to meet its quota in early May, prompting an early quota closure in federal waters of May 2. At its February meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved to close recreational harvest of triggerfish in state waters when Gulf federal waters close.
In the meantime, be on the lookout for cobia. It’s just a matter of time before we start seeing a migration of the cobia through the area.
Usually the ling show up on the beach between Panama City and Pensacola about mid-March. But the key is warmer water.
A lot of the captains say that the cobia won’t show up until the water temp reaches about 65-67 degrees. Right now we’re sitting at about 62 degrees. But get a few more sunny days and things should start to heat up.
Remember a cobia has to be 33 inches to keep and you can only keep one.
Also coming up on the catch list in May will be amberjack for 31 days, then they will reopen in the fall, Aug. 1-Oct. 31. Minimum size for jacks is 34 inches with a one per person bag limit.
And before you know it June will be here and it will be open season on the red snapper.
As Capt. Mike Eller said earlier this week, “It looks like 2020 is going to be the best year ever.”
Lots to catch and so little time. See you at the docks. #2020bestyearever