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 (https://www.shorethingcharters.com/), headquartered at Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
John E. Phillips: Sonny, you said that live shrimp is your favorite bait to fish for speckled trout. Are you using any other bait for speckled trout?
Captain Sonny Schindler: Yes, I have three live wells in my boat, so I’ll always have live shrimp and croakers in two of those live wells at this time of the year. And, I let the trout and the redfish tell me which baits they prefer. If I can locate some finger mullet, I’ll use my catch net and fill up my third live well with them. If I can find pogies 2-3 inches in length, I’ll throw my cast net on them and put them in the third live well. On some days, those speckled trout and redfish will eat a hook with no bait on it, and on other days they’re really picky about the type of bait they want to eat. I have had two anglers in the boat with me before when one would be fishing with croakers and the other with live shrimp. They’d be casting to the same spot. The angler fishing croakers might be catching trout on every cast, and the fellow standing right next to him casting live shrimp couldn’t get a bite. So, that’s why I like to carry as- many different types of bait as I can, until I know what bait the fish are wanting to eat on that day.
Phillips: What do you do after your party of fishermen has caught their limits of 15 speckled trout?
Schindler: Sometimes we don’t have to limit out on speckled trout when one of our anglers will say, “Hey, we’ve caught up all the speckled trout we want to catch. Let’s try something else.” So, most of the time, we’ll leave the trout and go to places where we are much more likely to catch redfish instead of speckled trout. Now the redfish will eat the same baits that the speckled trout eat, so we don’t have to change-up our tackle or the live bait that we have to catch redfish. We just have to go to a different location where we can find more redfish than speckled trout.
Most often when we’re fishing for speckled trout, we’ll be catching redfish too. So, once we decide to target just redfish, we generally don’t have to move very far away from where we’ve caught our trout. Redfish live in the same apartment complex as the speckled trout do. We’ll usually fish shorelines, points and drains coming out of the marsh for redfish. We’ll also fish banks with oyster shells and open spots in the marshes. If we see a redfish tailing – swimming in shallow water with part of its tail out of the water – we know that the redfish are feeding and are hunting for something to eat. All we have to do is to cast our live baits in front of the redfish, and when the fish gets to the bait, the redfish will eat it. If the redfish is further out away from the bank, we can cast our live bait past the redfish and then drag that live bait right in front of the redfish. Our Mississippi limit on redfish is three redfish per day, 18 inches or longer up to 30 inches. One redfish can be more than 30 inches.
Phillips: Do you just catch only redfish when you’re fishing that shallow water with live bait?
Schindler: No, we don’t put a label on our live bait that says redfish-only. We’ll often catch flounder in the same areas when we’re fishing for redfish.
To learn more about fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, check out John E. Phillips’ book, “Alabama’s Offshore Saltwater Fishing: A Year-Round Guide for Catching Over 15 Species of Fish” at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008VT4FBM. You may have to copy and paste this address into your browser. You also can go to John’s Author’s Page at http://amzn.to/XW2URC to learn about his other outdoor books.
Tomorrow: You Can Catch Delicious-Tasting Flounder Now on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast