With fishermen itching to get on the water after a few days of warm weather, there might be no better place to be than around the inshore reefs outside of Charleston harbor.
That’s where Chuck Griffin of Aqua Adventures Fishing Charters has been working over the sheepshead the past few weeks.
“It will be good out here until about the first of May,” said Griffin (843-860-1664), who said sheepshead will stay around reefs like the Capers Reef, the R8 and the Charleston Nearshore Reef until the water warms up enough to send them into the harbor and its tributaries.
Griffin said he’s had success locating “pieces” of the reefs away from the main structure, finding less-pressured sheepshead over those spots. “So many people fish the biggest pieces of the reefs,” he said. “If you’ve got a tugboat out there, for example, if you can move off it and find some smaller pieces, maybe reef balls that stick up four or five feet off the bottom, those will be better.”
The basic sheepshead rig is a Carolina rig with a short leader and Owner live-bait hook – the size should match the size of the fiddler crabs you’re using for bait. Griffin doesn’t like to fish much more than a one-ounce egg sinker to keep the bait on the bottom, and if the current allows, he’ll drop down to a half-ounce weight. He’s also particular about having braided line spooled on his reel, because its sensitivity allows him to feel the light bites of the sheepshead.
“I try to get right on top of the structure and fish down into it,” he said. “I’ll put out a buoy marker and make a couple of drifts to see where the wind and current will take you. I look for different parts of the wreck or reef on my depthfinder. You’ve got to be very precise where you fish. You can be just a little bit off and not do anything.”