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I was in south topsail on wed., and walked out on the jolly roger peir. I saw about 6 or 7 big sheepshead. anyone know how to fish for these? thinking of going out next monday for tues if the weather holds out.
 

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There's a great article on them in the fish and game mag for this month.. I'll summarize on it though.

use a caroline right with a short leader on it (1ft) and a #1 or 2 hook. find you a tidal marsh at lowtide and gather up a ton of fiddler crabs and use those for bait. Drop the crabs down beside the pier pilings. and keep it about mid depth. use a pole with a very sensitive tip on it as these guys are true bandits. They have human like teeth up front and can snap through a fiddler crap with out a problem they are fast too!

Keep at them and you get one of them.

As for catching the crabs, we used to use coffee cans back home.. find a place thats got a lot of crabs out, and dig the can down into the mud so they are level withthe ground or slightly lower. Set up 1/2 dozen of these and let them sit for about an hour or so... come back and check them. should be crabs stuckin the cans. Or, you can use a minnow dip net and slap it down and drag them back to you. either or will work fine.

Good luck with them! they are fast and strong, but eat well :)

rye
 

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Rye's advice is right on! I've caught many a sheephead using a Carolina Rig.

However, I have recently begun using a new style rig for sheephead and really like it. It uses 2 hooks for a single bait and seems to to improve the presentation and the chances of feeling the sheepshead subtle bite.

Start with two 1/0 ring hooks (they have a ring in the hook's eyelet). Take a 2-3 foot long peice of leader material (I use Yo-Zuri Hybrid or flurocarbon). Tie a loop on the end for the weight. In the middle tie a dropper loop just like you would for a bottom rig except thread the two hook rings onto the leader before you make the loop, make sure the hooks face in the same direction. Add a swivel at the top.

I use a 4 ounce bank sinker. This allows you to keep the line very tight in those currents you often find around pilings thus gives you a better chance of feeling that munch, munch soft bite.

You can use fiddler crabs, soft shells, sand fleas, artificial (yes, Gulp! comes in several crab shapes) or even clam bellies on this one.

Not only does it present the crab well but you can get and keep it very close to the pilings and control the depth. The picture below shows the crab flat on the hooks to give you a better view of the rig, but in actual usage I rotate the crab up 90 degrees so it is parallel to the bottom.
 

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That rig looks like the best way you could possibly rig those gulp crabs. Keeping the dropper loop fairly short like in the first picture would probably help the sensitvity and keep the bait in the zone better than a long loop. It sure looks like a winner to me.
 

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Mark - I got them at Tex's Tackle. These were made my Owner. But I bet Doug at East Coast Sports in Surf City carries some too.

I'm thinking of heading out there (SCP) tonight to give those sheep a try...... That rig has worked VERY well around the bridges and docks in the ICW - I want to see how it does in the ocean.
 

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Buzzbait. Rye & Topsail Angler seem to know what they're talking about with these sheepshead. I might add that you may want to get to the pilings (if you're fishing from a boat) at low tide and use a paddle to scrape the barnacles off. When you come back at incoming tide, the scent will hopefully attract more sheepshead. We tried this method around the boat docks in Morehead City & Atlantic Beach and had great luck. Also, if you are catching sand fleas in the surf, keep the little clams that are out there. There are literally millions of them in the sand. Take these clams and smash them in a bucket with a heavy object. Insert the resulting "mush" into a panty hose or something else and use as a chum bag. It seemed to work for us.
 
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