An elevated helm perched atop an aluminum tower is generally intended for inshore anglers to spot schools of redfish, tarpon and other roaming gamefish from afar. However, anglers like Capt. Chris Wiggins of St. Petersburg, Fla., know they also serve well the pursuit of that tasty black and white striped, structure-hugging fish – the sheepshead.
A noted nibbler and often a frustrating bait-stealer, the sheepshead are built for pecking barnacles and small mollusks off the pilings of docks and piers. They’re also good at catching all the little crabs and invertebrates that inhabit these structures.
The thing about docks is that they offer sheepshead – and other sport fish -- lots of shadowy hidey holes where they can avoid detection. Wiggins finds his towerboat offers a twofold advantage.
First, he often spots sheepshead from a distance before they dash for cover. Second, he idles up to a particular dock, his higher vantage point allows him to look right down into the water to spot fish milling around the deeper reaches of pilings.
Once he finds a good spot, Wiggins will cast live fiddler crabs beneath the dock. Sheepshead bite quick and let go even quicker, so a timely response is key.
Check out this photo gallery of Capt. Chris Wiggins on sheepshead patrol.