How To

Inshore Fishing Tips for Speckled Trout and Redfish in Mississippi’s Biloxi Marsh

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“April is one of the most productive months our area has for speckled trout in the spring and summer,” charter fishing Captain Sonny Schindler explains. “The weather is usually good, and the trout start really getting active as the water warms up.” When the water temperatures reach or climb near 70 degrees, that’s when the speckled trout turn on in the Biloxi Marsh where Schindler fishes.

For many years, Schindler and his partner, Matthew Tusa, didn’t realize that the Biloxi Marsh homed underwater grass beds. When they found the first couple of underwater grass beds in the marsh, they realized that big trout should hold there in April. “We’ve now discovered more than 20 underwater grass beds in the Biloxi Marsh, and during April these grass beds can produce some outstanding speckled trout fishing,” Schindler reports.  “From the Three Mile area all the way down to Comfort Island is where you’ll find the grass beds in two to four feet of water, depending on the tides.”

Schindler prefers to fish the grass beds in four-foot-deep water because the deeper beds seem to hold the most big trout. The correct water temperature of 70 degrees, grass beds in two- to four-foot-deep water and the migration of the baychovies (local name) are the three factors that must come together to make April speckled trout fishing in the Biloxi Marsh red hot this month. “The baychovies (local name) come into the marsh by the billions,” Schindler explains, “and when the baychovies show up, the trout gorge themselves on these small baitfish. A 12-inch trout, a legal-size catch, will weigh a pound more when it’s feeding on the baychovies than it will weigh before or after the baychovies arrive.”

In most sections of the Upper Gulf Coast, if you see seagulls diving on bait, you can assume that schools of speckled trout and redfish beneath the bait have pushed the baitfish to the surface. If you spot little birds that look like swallows, known as terns, diving on bait, usually Spanish mackerel or ladyfish have chased them to the surface. However, in the Biloxi Marsh, Schindler finds the grass beds and the baychovies by looking for terns.

“When we see a large flock of terns diving on bait, we’ve learned to go to the terns, and those terns often will be feeding on the baychovies,” Schindler says. “The terns have also shown us where the grass flats are that hold the big speckled trout. In years gone by, we completely disregarded a flock of terns diving, because we never caught speckled trout under them. But in the Biloxi Marsh, we’ve learned that the terns point the way to big trout and outstanding grass bed fishing. The trout on these grass beds will often be mixed schools. You may catch 10 trout that are all 12 inches long, and then on your next 10 casts, the trout you catch may be 18 inches or better. Matthew caught his biggest trout ever–a 7-1/2-pounder–last April fishing over these grass beds.”

To catch the trout over the grass, Schindler suggests fishing a 3/8-ounce jighead with grub colors like opening night, cotton candy, or any clear grub with a little sparkle in it. Then up the line, 18 inches from the grub, Schindler adds a popping cork to his line. “If you get to the grass flats before first light, just as the sun begins to brighten up the day, the trout will totally eat up top water lures like the She Dog, the Zara Spook, the Zara Puppy and the Skitter Walk,” Schindler reports. “I really believe that when these baychovies show up in large schools on the grass flats, you probably can cast out a hot dog, and the trout will eat it. I had a party last year that caught 30 or 40 nice trout using a fly rod and fly tackle.”

Last year, Schindler had a big trout blow up on the bait and break his line, while fishing a chartreuse-and-black She Dog. However, after a few minutes, apparently the big trout worked the She Dog loose from its jaw, and the bait floated up to the surface. “We watched as trout after trout tried to take that She Dog sitting still on the water,” Schindler recalls. “So we motored the boat over to the bait. I retrieved my bait and started catching trout again on that same She Dog.”

When a big bull red moves out on the grass flat and takes your jig, it will run back and forth through that flat, spooking all the trout. When this occurs, Schindler lands the redfish and leaves that grass bed to go fish another grass bed for an hour or two. Then he can return to the grass bed where he’s caught the redfish. “Redfish are plentiful this time of year, but in my opinion all they do is mess up the trout fishing,” Schindler explains.

To catch a limit of speckled trout in April, head to Bay St. Louis and the Biloxi Marsh for outstanding inshore fishing. For more information on Sonny Schindler, call him at (228) 342-2295, email sonnyschindler@yahoo.com, or visit http://www.shorethingcharters.com/.

To learn more about Mississippi fishing, get John E. Phillips’ eBook Fishing Mississippi’s Gulf Coast and Visitor’s Guide. You can go to www.amazon.com/kindle-ebooks, type in the name of the book and download it to your Kindle and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.

Image courtesy John Phillips

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