The story of Sheepzilla: A proper sheepshead send-off

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Sheepzilla weighed 6 pounds and was over 19 inches long.

By MATT STEVENS
Man on the Pier

Well, I can finally stop fishing for sheepshead this season, I caught Sheepzilla.

Since mid-February I kept telling myself “This will be my last trip after sheepshead this year,” except for my addiction to targeting them was too great. But now I’m free to pursue other species after yesterday’s catch at Placida.

Sheepzilla weighed 6 pounds and was 19¼ inches long, by far the biggest sheepshead I’ve ever caught.

The way the day started, though, I never thought I’d have a chance at a monster like that. The morning hours were spent wading through undersized and barely-legal fish, and after about the 20th 11½ inch fish I was quickly losing interest. Around noon I was running low on mud crabs and patience, and was just hoping for one more keeper for the cooler.

That’s when Sheepzilla struck.

Not long before that I had put on a big mud crab for bait and dropped it down near a piling. It didn’t take long for Sheepzilla to find it. As soon as I set the hook and the fish stayed down, I knew it was big. When I fought it up to the surface I could hardly believe my eyes.

“Anybody got a net!!??” I yelled down the pier. As I looked around in horror, I realized that none of the net-wielding sheepshead regulars that are usually on the pier were anywhere to be seen. My net was at least 20 feet away, leaning up against the opposite railing. A lot of good it was doing me there.

I repeated my plea, and it went something like this:

“Can somebody please grab that circle net and help me out!!?? Anyone!? Bueller!?”

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, another angler grabbed my net and came to the rescue.

“Whatcha got, a big sheepshead?” he asked. “Whoa! That’s the biggest one I’ve ever seen.”

After a few tense moments – I was sure the hook was going to pop out – we got the fish in the net and up on the pier.

I had slayed Sheepzilla.

But now I had a new problem. No one on the pier seemed to know how to use the camera on my iPhone, and this fish was way too big to take a selfie with. The first guy I asked was clueless, God bless him. And although neither I, nor he, could actually tell if he was taking pictures, it turns out he was. But they were black and white  and most of them looked like something out of the Kids in the Hall’s “Head Crusher” skit (I’m crushing your head!).

headcrusher

After finding a guy who was able to snap a couple of good photos for me, I had one more dilemma: finding someone with a scale.

I happened to run into my buddy Ralph from church, and he had a hand scale that we weighed the fish on. My guess was between 6-7 pounds, and the fish was 6 pounds right on the nose.

What a way to end the sheepshead season.

By the way, I used Sheepzilla to make blackened, baja fish tacos drizzled with sriracha sauce.

Until next time, hook ’em up and fight ’em hard. Fish on, fellow anglers.

bajatacos

Sheepzilla tacos.

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About manonthepier

Find my regular Man on the Pier column every Thursday in WaterLine Weekly Magazine, part of the Sun family of newspapers. Contributor for Florida Sportsman magazine and blogger for Fishin' Franks. Visit me at facebook.com/manonthepier or https://fishinfranks.wordpress.com/author/manonthepier/

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