It’s been cold and it’s been blowin and all but the heartiest of souls have stayed pretty close to the dock. Forecasters suggest we may not get a reprieve for the next several days. If you just feel the need to go… residential canals can offer some protection depending on their exposure and wind direction. The lee side of the many barrier islands that line our coast can be fishing friendly when seeking some calmer waters. Sheepshead fishing has likely begun to sound redundant but if you’re looking for something to tug back on the other end of your line, this time of year they’re among the best bets. They couldn’t seem to care less how cold or rough it is and will eagerly chew on shrimp halves that are usually readily available. I like to fish them in the deeper water along the edge of the Ships Channel inside Tampa Bay . The more protected waters at the Misener or Bayway Bridge will often hold big numbers. They’ll gang up on the rock jetties like at Blinds Pass and at some of the marinas leading to the gulf as they stage before moving on to spawn. It was close to this time last year we ran across a herd of “sheepies” in 48 ft., 13 miles offshore while snapper and hog fishing. Many we caught were the roe laden females in the five pound range. If you’re heading over to Tampa tomorrow by boat for the plunder and debauchery of the Gasparilla invasion, dress warm and be safe. The hazards of navigation are magnified with that amount of boats packed in a relatively small area – especially if it’s rough.