Reef sheep herded up

Nearshore reefs out of Charleston fill up with sheepshead in March

Sheepshead are biting in March around many of the reefs off the coast of Charleston, S.C, including the 4KI, Charleston 60 and Edisto 40. If they’ve got 25 to 60 feet of water on top of them, they are prime sheepshead holes this time of year.

Guide Ben Powers of Reel Time Charters said fighting through black sea bass is always a problem at these reefs, but he said it’s worth it to weed through them to get to the sheepshead.

“Some guys will spend 30 minutes on a reef and get tired of catching black sea bass, so they make a run to another reef, then do the same thing,” he said. “The trick is to stay put, and after you’ve worked through the black sea bass for a while, you’ll start getting into the sheepshead. Otherwise, you’re wasting time running to a new spot, then spending half an hour on another batch of black sea bass. Just stay put, be patient, and you’ll start catching sheepshead.”

While many anglers use a common Carolina rig for sheepshead, Powers (843-475-9660) opts for something different, and he said his method allows him to feel the bite better because of the location of the weight, the hook and the absence of a swivel to attach his mainline to leader.

On the end of his leader, Powers places an egg sinker. About 12 inches above that weight, he uses a dropper loop to tie on a 2/0 Owner Mosquito hook. Powers allows the weight to hit the structure, then reels up one or two reel cranks.

“I like to set the hook myself when fishing for sheepshead, and that’s why I prefer the Mosquito hook over a circle hook. And I tie my main line, which is PowerPro braid, to my 20- to 30-pound fluorocarbon leader with a line-to-line knot instead of a swivel. All of that allows me to feel the bite better, because there is nothing between me and the hook besides line,” he said.

The size of his egg sinker varies depending on how hard the current is running, but it is usually between 1 and 3 ounces.

Powers said his most critical piece of gear when fishing this way is his Minn Kota iPilot trolling motor, which allows him to hold steady in one place with the Spot-Lock feature. This allows him to make slight adjustments much more quickly and easily than pulling in an anchor and resetting it every time he decides to move.

Fiddler crabs, sand fleas, live shrimp, and clams are all good baits to have on hand.

About Brian Cope 2787 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at

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