STATE RECORD SHEEPSHEAD
By Bill Cochran
Interest in fishing for sheepsheads has mushroomed in Virginia this season, as more and more anglers learn how to catch this species. But Friday, Arun Nhek of Newport News wanted nothing more than just to catch something to take home to eat.
Nhek was dangling a clam bait from the Seagull Fishing Pier at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel when a sheepshead struck. And what a sheepshead!
?It was quite a fish,? said Claude Bain, tournament director of the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament.
In fact, it was a state record, weighing 20 pounds, 12 ounces and measuring 30.5 inches. The previous record was a 19-pound, 3-ounce catch taken July 25, 2004 by Jeff Hutton of Virginia Beach. He was fishing the Second Island of the bridge-tunnel.
Nhek was working the rocks of the First Island when he hooked his record catch.
?After staying away from the rocks initially, the fish made a couple of strong runs towards them,? said Bain. ?Nhek ran down the pier away from the rocks to get a better angle and leverage to keep the fish away from the rocks. Even so, the line (12-pound test) was badly frayed during the fight.?
After a battle that lasted 10 to 15 minutes a net was lowered to the water and the fish was safely hoisted onto the pier.
Anglers have learned to target sheepsheads around the rock islands of the bridge-tunnel under a variety of tide conditions, Bain said.
?The fishery has been growing each year,? he said. ?It took a quantum leap this year for people learning how to catch them.?