Sheepshead Shootout ready to roll March 3

Tina Harbuck
Freeportís Edson Mckenzie, center, and was the big winner in the 2016 Sheepshead Shootout with this 9.56-pounder caught with Capt. Kirk Ogren. Standing from left are Capt. Kirk, Mckenzie and Rich Ogren, who placed fifth with a 7.08-pounder. [FILE PHOTO]

No guns needed for this shootout, just a rod, reel and bait.

The fourth annual Sheepshead Shootout is scheduled for March 3 and hosted by The Ships Chandler.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Pete Wright Jr. of The Ships Chandler. “We made the rules the way we did because we wanted to give everybody a legitimate chance to win.”

Anglers can fish anywhere accessible by boat, kayak, stand-up paddle board or even from land.

Live bait or artificial lures can be used and only one rod at a time may be used per contestant.

Cost is $25 per person with a 100 percent payout to the angler who pulls in the biggest sheepshead. All weights are whole weights, not gutted.

Last year, Destin’s Zach Wolfe took home the big money after weighing in a 9.29-pound sheepshead.

Wright said folks should be in the running with a 7-pounder or more.

“But you never know,” he said.

The biggest sheepshead on record for the state of Florida is a 15 pound 2 ounce fish.

However, the average sheepshead is around 5- to 6-pounds.

Tournament fishing begins at 7 a.m. and weigh-in scales, located at The Ships Chandler in the heart of Destin, 646 Harbor Boulevard, will be open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Last year, 85 anglers entered the one-day tournament.

“Right now we’ve got about 40 already registered,” Wright said, noting most everybody waits until the last minute.

The deadline to register is 5 p.m. March 2 at The Ships Chandler.

If you’ve never fished for sheepshead before, the best types of baits to use are live shrimp, fiddler crab or oysters. As for tackle, light weight with a 15-pound or less leader with a No. 4 or No. 2 hook work well. Anglers might try using a Carolina style or drop style rig.

Where do you find sheepshead?

Bridges are always a good place to start. Other hot spots are oyster beds and even around the jetties at East Pass. Sheepshead like any kind of structure.

Although participants in the tournament can only weigh in one sheepshead, the limit is 15 per person and the must be 12 inches in length to keep.

For more information about the Sheepshead Shootout, contact The Ships Chandler at 837-9306.

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