Before heading out for Sheepshead, the first thing you want to do is catch as much bait as humanly possible.
Also, you will want a wide variety of different baits, in order to see what is triggering the Sheepsehead to bite.
Let’s discuss where to find bait, and what baits are acceptable to use.
- Sea Urchins: are a deadly bait for Sheepshead. You can find them by searching underneath floating docks, attached to bulkheads, or on rock jetties. Sea Urchins are generally my favorite bait, because the only thing that will eat them is a Sheepshead, and generally speaking, a sizable one. I always use a pliers and clip off all of the spines, then insert a small treble hook into the urchins hard body.
- Fiddler Crabs: can be a very effective option as well. You can find Fiddler Crabs by scavenging the estuary shorelines at a low tide. These crabs will be so dense that you can almost hear the ground rumbling underneath you. You can just grab these crabs, they have claws, but it just really does not hurt all that bad to get pinched. I use a small treble hook, and insert one point of the hook through the middle of the crabs body.
Let’s now discuss where to find Sheepshead, and some of the tactics involved for having a great day on the water:
- Where can you find the Sheepshead? First off, the best time to catch Sheepshead is on an incoming tide, this pushes more baitsources through the water. Sheepshead live around docks, pilings, bulkheads, and rock jetties. I prefer to search and scavenge all the structures I can find. Once you find one Sheepshead, I guarantee there are MANY more in the area. Also, the hotter the weather the better, Sheepshead love the hot summer North Carolina environment. Once the water temp is above 83 degrees the Sheepshead bite really seems to get hot. I prefer to fish them anywhere from 6-40 feet of water. They could be up on the sides of the bulkhead suspended, so make sure you do not waste ALL of your time on the bottom.
- What are the tactics involved? Well, finding Sheepshead really is not all that hard. If you find good structure, with good bait around it (mussels attached to structure or live bottom), you will find the Sheeps. I prefer to fish a heavy action spinning rod with 20lb powerpro. If I am fishing an Oyster bed, I use a float and drift a Fiddler Crab or else a live Sea Urchin right above the structure. If I am fishing pilings, I use a single split shot, directly above 3 feet of mono-leader (60lb), then drop the urchin down directly next to the structure. Sheepshead have brute power and strength, so lock the drag on them, otherwise they can easily break you off on the structure. Now it’s just up to you, get out there and find them!!!!
Love where we live and be thankful for the greatness of our remaining underwater ecosystems,