I was in attendance at the Striper Club’s August general meeting with guest speakers Capt. Kathy Franceschini and Mike Bendzus. Kathy is a pro guide, Mike is an experienced striper fisherman and the Club’s tournament director. As I listened to the speakers explain their techniques and the success they were having, I began to feel inspired. It almost felt like a pep rally. I really needed to go out and catch a fish. I needed to feel something pulsating at the end of my line. It’s a thrill I’ve enjoyed all my life and I hope it never ends.
I wasn’t able to satisfy my addiction here because of commitments we had already made to family members in northeast NC, not too far from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Upon arrival in NC, my son in law proposed a trip in the Bay for sheepshead. I told him, “Of course I’m interested, but I’ve never caught a sheepshead in my life”. He told me he had been doing some research on sheepshead and he had a DVD we could watch on the subject. The DVD was informative indeed. It showed in detail just how to catch sheepshead.
Sheepshead are so named because their front teeth protrude out, similar to a sheep. They hang around bridge and dock pilings and are well equipped to chisel barnacles off the pilings. They feed off of the crustaceans on and around the pilings. The best baits are fiddler crabs, mole crabs and pieces of blue crabs. Sheepshead range in size from 2 to 8 lbs. Their mouth is relatively small, but extremely powerful. Experienced sheepshead fisherman claim they can bite through a flimsily hook. A size #4, 4X is about right. The DVD suggested taking along a flat bladed shovel to scrape barnacles off the pilings and that in effect acts as chum for the sheepshead.
A day before we decided to go we collected fiddler crabs and mole crabs at VA Beach. We also remembered to put the shovel in the boat. The next day we headed for Lynnhaven Inlet, a ramp at the mouth of the Bay. While we were readying the boat for launch, we were overhearing a lot of talk about a tremendous flounder run. It seemed everybody was catching their limits. We just couldn’t ignore all the chatter. What to do? As most sensible fisherman would we decided to heck with the sheepshead, we need to get in on the flounder run.
At the end of the day, we all had our limits of flounder. There were four of on the boat, the limit is four legal size fish per person and we had our 16 fish. We caught many more that were undersized and had to be thrown back. I got the fix I needed. By the way I still haven’t caught a sheepshead, but we’ll keep the shovel handy.
Good Luck and Keep the Lines Tight, Paul