Chum up a sheepshead

Crushed crabs, barnacles will attract convict fish

Once located, it’s not difficult to get sheepshead to bite, but finding them first is the key, and chumming can be a way to concentrate the hungry convict fish.

Sheepshead are suckers for free food, and they can smell things at great distances — almost like sharks. Many expert sheepshead fishermen believe that chumming is as important as tying on a hook.

Guides Tommy Scarborough and Jordan Pate chum heavily for sheepshead, whether fishing nearshore reefs during the winter or rock jetties during the summer.

“I am not a biologist, but they have got to have one of the best senses of smell there is,” Scarborough said. “You will be surprised the difference it makes.”

The best chum for sheepshead can be barnacles or oysters scraped off pilings or rocks. They can be busted up into smaller pieces and tossed out bit by bit in small amounts.

“It creates a feeding frenzy and makes it easy to fill up the box in a hurry,” said Pate.

Scarborough will also use busted up barnacles and oysters, but he prefers to pick up fresh-dead fiddlers from are tackle shops. He then smashes them up and puts them inside a tubular cricket basket that he’ll tie off and hang down in the water.

“The thin wires of the cricket basket will not allow all of the chum to float out at the same time. The chum smell really gets them going,” he said.