JettiesJetties are found all along the Atlantic coast, protecting dredged inlets from silting in by directing the tidal currents. They often extend as far as a mile out into the Atlantic, and they are home to many species of fish. They offer safe haven and a food source. And because they are visible, it’s easy to find where to fish!
We tried some sheepshead recently on our jetties, and came home with dinner!
We headed out from the ramp just after sun-up. We had made the requisite stop at the ice house and bait shop, and because it was a weekday we pretty much had the boat ramp to ourselves. The offshore boys were launched and gone before daylight, and the inshore guides were already on the water taking advantage of the tide.
The Right TideIt was the last of the outgoing tide, my favorite tide to fish. We would be fishing as the water slowed, stopped and changed direction. I try to fish the last of the outgoing and the first of the incoming tide, especially along any jetties. Any other time, the current is so strong it’s hard to get a bait to the bottom without a window sash!
BaitOur bait this day was fiddlers crabs. These are the standard sheepshead bait in our area, and the weather has warmed enough that the supplies n local bait shops are stable. Cold winter months send fiddlers deep into the sand, making them hard to harvest and scarce at the bait shops.
There are two ways I fish with fiddlers. One is with a small sinker above a 12 inch leader and a 2/0 hook. The other is to use a jig head with a 1/0 or 2/0 hook, usually ¼ ounce or smaller. I prefer the jig head, but I sometimes use the hook and sinker.
Terminal TackleWe use a short leader with the hook so that we can feel the fish. Sheepshead will come up to the bait, lightly suck it into their mouths and then sit still and crunch the crab off the hook. They are the ultimate bait stealer fish. The short leader helps me lift the rod a short distance and feel the fish on the end. A longer leader allows too much slack and the fish will invariably eat the crab without you feeling it.
With a jig, the weight is at the very end of the line, and I can feel the fish as soon as he picks up the bait, or rather inhales it. I fish the jig, like I do the hook and sinker, off the bottom in the water column.
Boat PositioningI have a trolling motor on my Seacraft and I fish using it to keep me positioned along the rocks. I like to stay fifteen to twenty feet off the rocks and fish straight down. But, depending on the wind direction, I can anchor my boat, using a jetty anchor, and allow it to swing close to the rocks. If you plan to anchor, make sure you are anchored securely and that your boat will not swing into the rocks.
So, we positioned the boat along the rocks, out toward the end of the jetties. For some reason that I have not really determined, we seem to catch more fish toward the end of the jetties than we do farther in the inlet. It’s probably because we fish there more than we do father in. Whatever the case, we caught fish.
Let’s FishThe fish weren’t turned on like they are sometimes. I’ve fished these rocks when you could get a bite on every drop. You either hooked up, missed a fish, or caught a fish every time. But, today we had to work for the fish.
I fish with light line. It’s partially because I like catching fish on light tackle, and partially because the lighter line catches more sheepshead. I really believe they can see the heavy line. So, the light line means that landing a fish requires a net.