Monday, March 3, 2008

Sheeps in da deeps....March & April to do list.

You don't have to hug a rock this time of year to catch plenty of Sheepshead. See that boat dwarfed by the ship passing under the Dames Point Bridge?
He was absolutely killing the Sheepshead, (toss in a few Drum) out there damn near in the channel.
Don't ask me how I know that.

In my opinion, the jetties get pummeled very hard. And like a reef offshore are only going to hold so many fish at a given time. Sure fish are constantly on the move, but if you could have seen the south tip of the jetty rocks on Saturday afternoon, and then again on Sunday afternoon, like I did you would have seen the same boats anchored there for the entire falling tide both days.

Do not think for a minute that this doesn't hurt the population there. And how about the constant traffic over head. I know for a fact I have had my Speckled Trout catches diminish rapidly between a Thursday and a Saturday. Do solely to incessant boat traffic, especially in the shallower areas.

Just like an offshore fisherman, the key is; "H-A-R-D = F-I-S-H". I've never heard of someone blasting offshore to spend $200 in fuel, $100 in bait, just to fish out in the middle of the desert over soft sand. Reefs, can be wrecks, ledges, concrete piles, barges, all with hardness that attracts organisms, soft corals, barnacles, and provides places for small little "food" critters a place to live.
Same goes for the river. About the only thing that "progress" has accomplished with all the river dredging, is that it has exposed the natural lime rock "hard bottom" areas. Especially on the edges of the channel. Along with the river's current, many of these places are no different than the jetty rocks when it comes to a big fat Sheepshead.

Then there's places that have hard shell bottom. Where are these places? Many of them are just historically good fishing spots, such as under the Dames Point Bridge. A really good sounder/bottom finder will point those areas out to you when you go over them. My machine is a 12" RayMarine color LCD. When I pass over a hard bottom area the bottom indicated in bright red will be very thick. And when I see a green fuzz just off the bottom I refer to that as just
"bio-mass". Be it shrimp, plankton, whatever...when I see that green fuzz, in conjunction with a deep red bottom, I'm looking at usually a good hard bottom spot.

That contains LIFE. Which in turn means food, which means FISH. And possibly Sheepshead!
I got to thinking yesterday that I NEVER fish vertically for Sheepshead up and down on the jetty rocks. I float-rig them, and I jig them. But I never sit and dab them. Maybe because I find it boring, I don't know. But I never do what I see hundreds doing.

But I do prefer to fish in good current, with several rods in the pole holders. Usually with just live shrimp. Getting the right size bank sinker to hold bottom, and utilize a sinker slider, and a short leader with either a small circle hook or something like a wide bend Eagle Claw 1/0. Now I find this enjoyable sometimes. You may have read that I don't like "bait-n- wait" fishing. But if there's something to actually catch, as in this time of year. I enjoy just kick'n back and watching a rod tip for a bounce.

There's no mangrove snappers yet, the pinfish have backed off a bit, there's no lil' croakers to eat everything in sight, and the Sheepshead and Drum are on the move.

The point is that you don't have to be in that crowd of bumper boats at the end of the rocks to catch some quality Sheepshead. Being that I fish the jetties alot, I could be at the bait shop and people ask me, "been catchin' the sheepshead out there huh?" And I usually respond, "No not really....."

You would be so surprised that there's an entire world of Sheepshead just along some hard bottom areas in the river. And no one fishes those areas. I have tried and still cannot hit all of them. Just as there's alot of Sheepshead up in the flooded grass at the excessive high tides.

Here's a spawning brood stock size 11 pounder that wasn't caught along the jetties but rather in the river, from deep water.

I use shrimp as bait, but do a few things to hopefully make my presentation a whole lot better. I take a big live shrimp. I cut off the tail fins. Clipping them off, not tearing them off.

I then thread my hook through the shrimp from the open tail end, like a rubber worm. Then half way through the shrimps body, I pull the hooks bend out, turn the hook and stick it in the walking legs of the shrimp.

This keeps the shrimp from spinning in the current. I've never seen a shrimp act like a Roland Martin as only seen on TV Helicopter lure! Shrimp lay on the bottom, they don't spin in the current. I think this matters, and never do it any other way.

Hooking the shrimp in this fashion makes the Sheepshead or any fish go through the hook to get the shrimp. And doubles the hook area to keep the shrimp from spinning. On my last charter with the Kossak family, I did this and each and every Sheepshead was hooked in the throat. Because it ate it's way up the shrimp and into the hook. Meaning a sure hook-up, for a guaranteed catch from the deep water.

Here's another definite
"spawning" size and colored Sheeps
that I caught no where near the jetty
rocks, but rather on some hard bottom
in the river. At 10 pounds in swift current,
in water from 35-50 feet, you can bet this
fish pulled!

7-Striped Jetty Snappers, aren't necessarily caught this time of year just at the jetties or off piling. Hard bottom areas that may take just a little more time to find and fish, can be just as productive. And just think, if these areas aren't beat to death, can ya imagine the size of the "River mule" you could catch??

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