Saturday, August 2, 2014

Targeting Convicts

Convicts (sheepshead) like structure for example bridge pilings, dock pilings, and old pilings; these structures should be as close to the harbor or ocean inlets to ensuring that the salinity of the water is fairly high in my opinion. Sheepshead prey on blue crab, fiddler crabs, oysters, clams, shrimp, and fiddler crabs by using its impressive human like teeth to crush these heavily armored and shelled prey including scraping barnacles from rocks and pilings. On this trip we will be using fiddler crabs. 


My setup for sheepshead is a Shimano Tescata 8 ft medium power with a extra fast action rod, the reel is an Okuma Convector CV 20 L reel with 30 lb power pro. My leader is about 4 ft long made from fluorocarbon with a dropper loop at the bottom with either an ounce or two ounce bank sinker. About a foot about the sinker is another loop that has a number 1 Gamakatsu Octopus Hook to place the fiddler crab. I’ll hook up a fiddler crab by inserting the hook behind the rear legs and pushing the hook through where it exits the center of the shell in the back of the crab. When doing this make sure that the shell doesn’t bust or crack anymore than necessary otherwise you will be providing an easy snack for these convicts.
Chris Slack is our expert for sheepshead fishing. I’m not 100 percent sure of his set-up but I understand that he just updated the equipment end for sheepshead fishing. He uses some sort of conventional reel very similar to what I use. I think that he is using a 7 – 7 ½ ft rod. I do know that he does use a Carolina rig for fishing for convicts. He is using a 1 ½ ounce egg sinker with 1/0 hook. He attaches the fiddler crabs in a similar fashion.
Also on this trip is one of my fishing buddies, Lewis. His set-up for sheepshead is a spinning rod set-up with a number 1 mosquito hook and two small split shot about 12 inches above the hook. I’m not sure how he hooks the fiddler crab. This setup is his tried and proven set-up along the rocks at the north jetty in Charleston.
Greg Bartle, another fishing buddy will be along for his first experience for sheepsheads. I’m sure for Greg he will be using his standard set-up for bait fishing which is some sort of Carolina rig. On this trip he will also be testing out the Grappler Anchor for securing him to the pilings.
This trip we will be targeting the convicts on the Folly River. We met at the Folly River boat ramp just before sunrise. We were blessed to be watch lightening and listen to thunder as we decided to see if we should launch or call it off. We decided to set-up out kayaks and rigs while we waited out the storm in the distance. So as I started to pull the Jackson Big Rig off the back of the truck there appeared to be hope that the storm was not going to approach us. I also remembered to include my little gardening pick to use to scrap the barnacles off of the dock pilings to chum for the sheepshead. This would be possible was we will be launching to the fishing area at low tide.
Chris and I started in the deeper section of the dock system that we are fishing. Lewis concentrated toward a section of the docks closer to the shoreline. Greg started out somewhere in the middle. Lewis was the first to catch and lose a convict. Then he had another on the line and managed to land this one into his kayak. Unfortunately it was a small sheepshead so it was released to grow up.
At this time Chris decided that maybe the sheepshead were in the shallower water and moved toward the general area where Lewis was catching them. For me I stayed put and worked my way from piling to piling. All of a sudden I had the feeling of a hang up and decided to set the hook. Sure enough I had a battle with a small fish. I lifted a small croaker into the Big Rig.
Chris all of a sudden had a convict on the line. The battle between him and the sheepshead was great to watch. In fact, Chris had to slip his rod and reel under a rope and into the salty water to avoid having the sheepshead tangle the line around the rope. Soon the battle was won by the angler; Chris had the beast in the net. Placing the sheepshead on the measuring board Chris discovered that he had just caught his personal best sheepshead at 22 inches.
Greg also moved closer to the shallower water after the Chris had landing such a monster of the sheepshead. In no time Greg managed to land his first sheepshead. For me I still remained out in the deeper water.
I managed another hookup and landed a nice oyster toadfish. After a while the bite stopped as quickly as it started. We decided to paddle over to the bridge and try those pilings. This was a great plan as it started to really pour while we were under the bridge. While under the bridge Lewis managed to land a nice 16 inch sheepshead.  The rain stopped and we decided to call it a day.
Although I was the only one that did not catch any convicts; it was still a great day of fishing some great guys. Maybe next time I will not be bull headed and move closer where the action is.

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