Saturday, August 24, 2013

Targeting Sheepshead at the Old Coal Docks

On this trip I joined Greg & Lewis my two fishing buddies on a launch from Remley’s Point Landing to head over to the old coal docks or what some folks call the Coal Chutes. This area is well known for nice redfish, speckled trout, sheepshead and ladyfish. For me when we plan this journey I always plan to target the convict that steals your bait with no problem; this is the lore of the sheepshead for most anglers. Of course for a yak angler to get there you have to try to fish the rip rap shoreline of Daniel’s Island since it is on the way to the old coal docks. This is a great spot to search out redfish, speckled trout and flounder from 6’ of water inward toward the rock rip rap shoreline from the Wando River and fishing towards the Cooper River. At some point along the Cooper River shoreline of Daniel’s Island you can start heading for the coal chutes. On this trip this was not the route that I followed. 
There was a huge barge coming in for a load of dirt and the workers for this project did not wish for us to travel around the moving barge and the two tug boats working the area. So Greg and I decided to paddle across to Drum Island. Drum Island is a good spot for targeting speckled trout and finding sharks teeth. Unfortunately on this occasion the only thing biting along the shoreline were huge mosquitoes. Uff da!! After departing the shoreline of Drum Island towards the old coal docks the squirms of mosquitoes seemed like they followed us half across the Cooper River before they gave up the chase.

As soon as I got to the pilings that remained of the old coal docks, I put my inshore spinning rod away and pulled out my sheepsheads outfit. My sheepshead weapon of choice is the Shimano Tescata with TC4 construction; length of the rod is 8’, rod weight is medium with a extra fast tip. The reel of choice is the Okuma Convector CV20L spooled with 30 lb power pro. At the end of the braid is a #10 size barrel swivel. Attached to this swivel is 20# Trik Fish Fluorocarbon Leader That is 4’ long with a 2” dropper loop knot about 9” above a sturgeon’s loop knot that a 1 oz bank sinker is attached. On the dropper loop knot above the sinker I attach an Owner SSW 1/0 hook. How that I have described my sheepshead set-up let us get fishing.

I picked a piling, and secured the Jackson Big Tuna using my piling rope anchor. Basically I just fasten the end of the rope to the anchor trolley, loop around a piling or some type of structure, and fasten the end of the rope to the anchor trolley to maintain my position to the area that I’m fishing. At this time the tide was high. When the tide is low enough where I can see the barnacles and shells attached to the pilings I will use a small garden hand pick to knock off some of these shells to use as chum for sheepshead. In this case I was unable to chum due the high tide. After about 60 minutes I did not have any convicts steeling my fiddler crabs. I decided to move and check out several other pilings as I worked along the back side of the coal docks. Uff da; nothing; I decided to put away the sheepshead rig and explore the grass areas for a possible redfish.
While working a small creek that parallels the creek we normally fish that goes to Magnolia Cemetery. As I paddled along this creek I could hear spot tails crushing bait in the grass. I took several of these small creeks through the grass flats but never was able to hook up on a redfish with any of the artificial lures that I was using. So as I made my way back to the coal chutes the tide was turning and going out. So I thought that I would try targeting sheepshead for the last hour or two before we have to head back.

 I decided to try the same general area, anchored to a piling, and lowered a fiddler crab next to a piling. Occasionally I would slowly raise and lower the bait in the hopes to feel some heavy. At one time I have lost the fiddler crab and did not feel anything. Typical for these convicts, the sheepshead will inhale the bait and crush it and blow it back out. So I baited another fiddler crab, lower the rig to the bottom and gave the reel a half of a turn.
When I started to reel up a little of the line I felt something on the hook. I set the hook and uff da fish on. This was not a big fish but I had my hopes for a small sheepshead. In no time I netted a small redfish about a foot long. Uff da I was hoping but no sheepshead. Well at least I would not be skunked for a day of fishing. Released the small spot tail, re-baited, and lowered the rig next to another piling.

Slowly raising and lowering the bait attempting to feel a sheepshead inhaling the bait but no luck. In about 15 minutes, I felt something heavy and set the hook. The rod bent over and uff da another fish on. This time the fight had the rod bent with the tip of the rod to the rod butt. This was a going to be a nice fish, maybe a nice sheepshead. At this time Lewis was behind me and noticed that battle. The battle was tough; I had to keep the fish and line away from the barnacle covered pilings. It would not be that fun to lose a sheepshead by having the line cut by these barnacles or shells on the pilings.
Finally I got the fish near the surface and uff da!! Another redfish but this time it was a nice spot tail. This one measured 25” and provided a great fight. Unfortunately it was time to head back. The sheepshead managed to not cooperate with me again on this trip. Someday I will learn how to locate and fish for these convicts and great fighters.

As always it was a great day on the water with great friends. Hopefully we will see you on the water and doing some catching.

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