- Posted by Nick Honachefsky
- On October 12, 2017
Get in on some sheepshead secrets, which you can use in the northeast during the fall or down south year round for some bruising fights and hard to beat table fare!
One of my favorite boots-on-the-ground fishing trips was down at Sanibel Island Florida along the B-Span bridge. I set up at the base of the bridge by the concrete abutments and tossed out a hi-lo rig baited with shrimp against the submarine structure to pull away on dozens of sheepshead that pushed the 20-inch mark. While southern anglers enjoy the spoils of sheepshead, Jersey anglers actually see a few show up in late summer and early fall, and their habits are very similar to blackfish. The “Convict” fish will gravitate toward structure like rockpiles, bridge abutments, docks and piers, and make for some great table fare.
A medium power spinning rod rated 10 to 20-pound for backbone to set a hook with a medium tip to feel the sensitive scratches and bites. Try the St. Croix TIS70MHF. Match with a 5000 class spinning reel like a Shimano Nasci, spooled with 30-pound Power Pro braid. Tie the braid to a 100-pound Spro Barrel swivel, then 30-inch piece of 30-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon leader, then a double overhand loop knot on the tag end. Twelve inches up from the appropriate 1 to 5-ounce bank or coin sinker, tie a dropper loop and affix a snelled 1/0 Owner Gorilla Light hook, or size 2/0 Gamakatsu Octopus hook. Another rig to use when sheepshead are feeding rig on bottom with some current is a bottom slider, with a 1 to 3-ounce egg sinker and a small plastic bead above the barrel swivel, then 24-inch piece of 30-pound fluorocarbon leader and finally the 2/0 Gamakatsu Octopus hook.
Best baits are fiddler crabs, sand fleas, both live and dead shrimp, and clams. Many times, sheepshead will whack the bait hard, but other times, they scratch at the shell of the crab bait and lightly inhale it so be prepared for either type of strike, depending on the way they are feeding that day. Set the hook hard. Sheepshead will dog you down back into the structure, so when the hit comes be sure to set the hook and reel quickly to remove the fish from its structure lair.
TIS70MHF Tidemaster Inshore Spinning Rod
Tidemaster Inshore Spinning Rods are handcrafted with St. Croix’s exclusive SC graphite for strength and durability. St. Croix Tidemaster rods are fitted with premium saltwater-grade hardware.
30lb 300yds Braided Spectra Moss Green
An incredibly round, smooth, and sensitive line, PowerPro doesn’t bury in the spool, and casts long and smooth — even after a hard strike. PowerPro outperforms monofilament lines in any situation.
Gorilla Light Hooks
Gorilla Light bait hooks are a lighter version of our Gorilla hooks for a more natural presentation. Use for rigging smaller live baits like anchovies, or natural baits for snappers and sheepshead.