Mississippi Gulf Coast on Fire with Speckled Trout and Redfish at Bay St. Louis
John E. Phillips 05.09.14
Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, is only a few miles by water west from the Louisiana marshes, and some miles by water from the Barrier Islands and Mississippi’s inshore reefs. With bays, marshes, and shallow water containing miles and miles of oyster reefs interrupted by mud flats and sand points, this area is an ideal habitat for speckled trout, redfish, black drum, flounder, sheepshead, and pompano.
“From now through the fall, we usually can limit out on speckled trout and redfish in a morning of fishing,” Captain Sonny Schindler of Shore Thing Charters said. To catch the biggest speckled trout of the day, Schindler goes to several of the public artificial reefs and fishes top-water lures like the Zara Spook, the Skitter Walk, and the Puppy Spook. “We want to be on these public reefs just as there’s enough light to see, to fish,” Schindler explained. “The water generally will be slick calm, and we use the walk-the-dog type of action to bring the big trout to the surface.”
The surface bite often lasts until the fishing pressure builds up on the public reefs. Then Schindler moves to deeper oyster bars and fishes live shrimp and soft plastics. “We also watch the sky for seagulls diving on bait shrimp and pogeys and position our boat up-current of the diving birds,” Schindler shared. “We let the wind or current push our party within casting distance of the schooling trout. We ask everyone in the boat to be as quiet as possible, because boat noise can spook the trout. If the trout are spooked, we’ll have to find another school of trout by looking for other diving birds.”
Redfish are often an incidental catch when fishing for speckled trout in May on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. However, if a party wants to target redfish, Schindler will take them to shallow reefs or into the marshes where the water may only be eight to 10 feet deep. “We’ll often see redfish tailing, and they even may have their backs out of the water. We’ll cast in front of the feeding redfish with live shrimp, grubs and spinner baits, and then, the battle begins.”
If Schindler’s party is made up of fly fishermen, there’s nothing more exciting than hooking up to an 18-pound redfish on a light fly rod with a light tippet. Once the redfish is hooked, the battle on the front end of the boat is one about which most fly fishermen only dream. Those powerful redfish can make a light fly rod look like a limp noodle. But given enough time and the expertise of a veteran fly fisherman, the big reds eventually will come to the boat.
“Even when the water and weather conditions are bad, we always can catch fish at Bay St. Louis,” Schindler reported. “When we had floods the first of May, and the waters around Bay St. Louis looked like a chocolate milkshake, we still were able to take our parties to catch black drum, including trophy drum weighing 20 pounds, 30 pounds, or more. We also caught numbers of puppy drum, which are the smaller black drum that are delicious to eat.”
For the adventure of a lifetime, Bay St. Louis and Shore Thing Charters should definitely be on your bucket list for this summer. Be sure to ask about the Cat Island adventure. On this trip, you cross the bay, stay in a beautiful lodge on Cat Island, fish from a kayak, and wade fish or fish out of a boat for specks, reds, and flounder. Late spring and summertime are inshore fishing at its best, and Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, provides some of the best inshore fishing on the Upper Gulf of Mexico Coast.
To learn more, visit http://www.shorethingcharters.com, contact Captain Schindler at [email protected], or call (228) 342-2295. For more information, get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBook, Fishing Mississippi’s Gulf Coast and Visitor’s Guide at http://amzn.to/XkluEO.