Cold weather should make for good Sheepshead Shootout on March 6

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

Cold weather? No problem. 

Sheepshead like cool water temps in the low 60s and below, said Pete Wright Jr. of The Ships Chandler. 

The water temperature was 63 degrees Feb. 19, which should prove good for the seventh annual Destin Sheepshead Shootout set for March 6 at The Ships Chandler in the heart of Destin. 

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“Fishing has been good. ... They’ve been catching them for a month,” Wright said of the sheepshead. 

Local angler John Pearman shows off his 9 pound 6 ounce sheepshead he pulled  in to take top honors in the Sheepshead Shootout in years past at The Ships Chandler. Standing from left are Peter and Pete Wright of The Ships Chandler along with Pearman. [CONTRIBUTED PHOTO]

In addition to liking cool water, Wright said prime conditions are a slow current with no wind so anglers can feel that finicky sheepshead bite. 

As of Friday, Wright said they had about a dozen anglers already signed up for the one-day event. 

“Most wait until the week of to register,” he said. 

Cost is $25 per angler. This is a winner-take-all tournament, with the angler who weighs in the heaviest sheepshead taking home all the money. For example, if 40 anglers enter, the winner will take home $1,000. Last year more than 110 anglers entered the Shootout. 

Richard Rogers of Choctaw Beach shows off his 8.01-pound sheepshead that took first place in the 5th annual Destin Sheepshead Shootout at The Ships Chandler over the weekend. [CONTRIBUTED PHOTO]

For this tournament anglers can fish anywhere that is accessible by boat, kayak, SUP or land.  

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Typically, the better fishing is going to be around the bridges and big structures. So anglers can try their luck around the Mid-Bay Bridge, the Clyde B. Well Bridge (U.S. Highway a331 bridge) and the Brooks Bridge. 

“But the best fishing seems to be around the Destin bridge, the jetties and East Pass,” Wright said. 

As for baits, live bait or artificial lures may be used. Live shrimp, oysters and fiddler crabs work well. 

Fishing begins at 7 a.m. March 6, with weigh-in at The Ships Chandler from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. Anglers can bring their fish in by boat or by vehicle. Only one fish per angler can be weighed. 

In case of bad weather, the anglers will be notified the night before the tournament. If the tournament is called off, all entries will be refunded. 

Entry fees must be dropped at The Ships Chandler at 646 Harbor Blvd. no later than 5 p.m. March 5.