Focus On Fishing | Jiggin Jerry | July 2021
Fishing for Sheepshead has become very popular with inshore anglers. These fish have a reputation for being stealthy, sneaky and hard to catch.
Most anglers that have experience in catching Sheepshead have realized that most of the time they have caught their largest Sheepshead during our winter months.
I have mentioned this in past articles, explaining that it becomes easier to target large Sheepshead during our winter months because a lot of their competition, like Pin Fish, Sea Bass, Puffer Fish, Spade Fish, etc., move out to deeper water during the winter.
Fishing for Sheepshead can be year round in the Lowcountry
The large Sheepshead stay behind and feed primarily on Barnacles, Oysters and Mussels, and this is why it becomes easier to target large Sheepshead during the winter.
But, fishing for Sheepshead can be year round in the Lowcountry. A commonly asked question by anglers is can you catch big Sheepshead in the summer?
The answer is yes. One could say, sure, anyone can get lucky. But, there is more to it than that. You do not have to rely on just luck to catch a large Sheepshead in the summer.
It just takes a little more know how. The first step is to find a location where Sheepshead are congregating.
Some of the best places to look are around bridge pilings, jetties and structure that have plenty of crustaceans on them for Sheepshead to feed. The water does not have to be deep.
Some locations will only have around five feet of water during the high tide. This will not affect the Sheepshead’s ability to feed and leave with the outgoing tide.
So, let’s say you have found a location where you have observed a group of Sheepshead feeding in a specific location. The other thing you would need to look for is water clarity.
You want to make sure that you can see the Sheepshead. This helps because you will be targeting the largest Sheepshead in the group.
This is referred to as sight fishing. This is when you can see the fish you are targeting and you are throwing bait in a location to attract that specific fish.
The technique is not easy, but it is fun, and if everything comes together, it can be quite rewarding.
So, what kind of gear should an angler use to sight fish for large Sheepshead? It depends on the angler.
Some anglers like heavier gear using drop shot rigs or Carolina rigs with a heavy weight set up with one or two Fiddler Crabs or other crustaceans on the hooks.
You suddenly hold your breath as you look closely and slowly wiggle your bait, catching the attention of that nearby Sheepshead
They either drop them to the bottom by the structure or they drop them to the bottom and then bring them up a few feet against the structure and wait for a bite, watching while the Sheepshead are feeding.
Others like myself prefer a lighter action with a lighter line, using a small jig head like a stand up jig head, putting one Fiddler Crab on the hook, observing the Sheepshead, looking for the largest one in the pack, waiting and anticipating his approach and the location he is about to feed.
With a soft flick of the rod, you flip the jig head with the Fiddler Crab into the water, slowly sinking along the structure, then stopping it cold as you watch the large fish approach.
You suddenly hold your breath as you look closely and slowly wiggle your bait, catching the attention of that nearby Sheepshead.
The Sheepshead moves in, looks at the crab closely, then turns sideways, showing his brilliant black and white stripes as the sun reflects off of his scales, then you notice as he stealthily moves in and vacuums up the bait.
You’re patient. You don’t just set the hook immediately. You lean into the fish, lowering your rod, allowing him to back up and start to swim away.
The large Sheepshead is not even aware that he has just grabbed your jig head and the light fishing line is coming out of his mouth.
He starts to slowly move away, you tighten up the line, and in an instant, set the hook. The fight is on! Your drag is set just right.
The Sheepshead goes into a frantic pull and starts to take line. You rear back and gain a few feet on him as you reel back down, he struggles to take off again.
You slowly raise your rod and gain on him some more, trying to keep the large Sheepshead away from the structure and debris that could sever your thin line, and before you know it, the big fish tires, and you are able to bring him to the top of the water as he lays on his side.
The answer to your question—can you catch large Sheepshead in the summer—again is yes! This is the way I would do it because this is the way I have done it and enjoyed every moment of every fish and every fight.
They all don’t end up in a win but either does racing cars, but it’s still fun doing it.
So, if you get a chance this summer, grab the tackle you’re interested in using and go out and sight fish for some big summer Sheepshead.
After all, if you don’t try, you’ll never know if you can catch big Sheepshead in the summer.
Like I always say, good luck out there and have fun fishing!
To view some fishing adventures, go to my YouTube Channel Fishing With Jiggin Jerry.
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