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Catching Speckled Trout, Redfish and Tripletails on the Upper Gulf Coast Day 1: The Bad News and the Good News about Inshore Fishing Now at the Mississippi Gulf Coast

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Editor’s Note: Last week I gave you a roundup of offshore fishing in the Gulf of Mexico on the Upper Gulf Coast off Alabama’s shoreline with Captain Troy Frady. This week we’ll be looking at inshore fishing in late May and June with Captain Sonny Schindler and Shore Thing Charters (, headquartered at Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

On my last trip to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the rain was pouring down, the tide was high and washing sand across the road, and I thought to myself, “Tomorrow is going to be a horrible day for fishing.” But was I ever surprised! We caught monster-sized black drum, redfish, sheepshead and speckled trout – mainly because Captain Sonny Schindler knew where the fish would be – even during bad-weather conditions. So, I checked with Captain Schindler to learn the latest information for my readers for fishing in May and early June.

John E. Phillips: Sonny, what’s going on inshore on the Mississippi Gulf Coast right now at the end of May?

Captain Sonny Schindler: One of the advantages we have at Bay St. Louis is that we have access to many-different areas to fish and places where we can catch fish. Another advantage we have is because we fish eight different boats at Shore Thing Charters, just about every day of the week, we know where the catchable fish are holding and what technique and tackle we need to use to help our parties catch those fish. We not only fish the Bay St. Louis region but also the inshore artificial reefs in the Mississippi Sound, the barrier islands and the Louisiana and the Biloxi marshes.

Phillips: Once the captain sees fish, what do the Shore Thing boats target?

Schindler: Our boats go after speckled trout, redfish, flounder, tripletails, black drum, sheepshead, sharks and whatever other targeted fish are biting.

Phillips: How long has Shore Thing Charters been fishing these places?

Schindler: The company was started in 2003, and I began guiding with Shore Thing Charters in 2006.

Phillips: What are you catching right now during the last 2 weeks of May?

Schindler: Typically, at this time of the year, we would be catching speckled trout, redfish and an occasional flounder and Florida tripletail. However, with all the rain and thunderstorms we have had along the Upper Gulf Coast and in most of the Deep South this spring, we’re having to deal with a big influx of fresh water and low salinity. We’re still catching pretty-good numbers of speckled trout. When they quit biting, we’ll change tactics and start fishing for redfish, flounder and black drum. The black drum can tolerate low-salinity water better than the speckled trout and redfish do.

Our main purpose is to have our anglers holding bent rods that produce smiling faces. Because we have had one of the wettest springs ever, we’re having to move around quite a bit to find the fish each day that our customers want to catch. I’m constantly telling our younger guides, “On most days you’re going to have to deal with problems mainly caused by the weather. So, you need to know where, how and with what to catch fish – regardless of weather and wind conditions.” One of the big advantages we have is during bad-weather conditions, the redfish and the black drum usually turn on, and then we can have a good day of catching those fish. We’ll catch redfish that are within the slot limit and also the big bull reds that can weigh up to 40 pounds. That’s why our guides carry strong, heavy-duty dip nets. When you get a fish weighing 30-40 pounds in the average dip net, a fish that size will break it.

Phillips: Sonny, explain to our readers what causes low-salinity water to hit the Upper Gulf Coast.

Schindler: When we get heavy rain events like we have had the last few months on the Gulf Coast, all the river and creek systems that feed into the bays and the Gulf of Mexico push a heavy load of fresh water out into the Gulf, which causes the water to be much fresher and not nearly as salty as what the speckled trout, red flounder and tripletail are comfortable living in; but it’s not only the rain events that happen on the Gulf Coast that create low-salinity water. Any rain that happens upstream of the Upper Gulf Coast pushes fresh water down into the Gulf; however, a change in tactics, bait and/or the locations we fish means we’re still able to find and catch good fish for our customers.

To contact Captain Sonny Schindler call 228-342-2206, email: [email protected], or visit

To learn more about Upper Gulf Coast Fishing, check out John E. Phillips’ book “Fishing Mississippi’s Gulf Coast and Visitor’s Guide” at You may have to copy and paste this address into your browser. You also can go to John’s Author’s Page at to learn about his other outdoor books.

Tomorrow: The Best Bait to Catch Inshore Fish Now on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast

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