For Hot Action, Try Sheepshead on Cool Winter Days

    By Terry Tomalin

    Sheepshead love cool water. These underappreciated Florida fish are feisty fighters and fine table fare. They are also easy to catch. All you need is a garden trowel and a seawall. Just scrape off some crustaceans. Take out the meat. Put it on a hook. And voila! You have caught yourself a sheepshead. The species, sometimes called the convict fish because of its striped body, find barnacles irresistible.

    So come Feb. 12-13, the Tampa-based Saltwater Angler Magazine will be calling on all sheepshead lovers to try their luck once again in the 4th Annual Filthy Pelican Sheepshead Invitational. This is the largest sheepshead tournament in the state, and when the organizers say "invitational," they aren't too picky. Everybody is welcome, as long as they have the patience it takes to catch these sometimes pesky fish.

    The tournament will be held along the waters of Tampa Bay at the Tampa Harbour Yacht Club located at 5200 W. Tyson St. in Tampa. Proceeds will benefit Tampa Bay Watch, one of the West Coast's leading environmental groups.

    The heaviest sheepshead will fetch a top prize of $2,500, but cash and prizes will be awarded through 20th place along with a token prize for last place. For registration information go to: