Cat Island – Any way you want to fish it

John E. Phillips
June 27, 2011 at 9:59 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

The lodge at Cat Island makes fishing easy and accessible whether you want to wade, kayak or fish from a boat.
The lodge at Cat Island makes fishing easy and accessible whether you want to wade, kayak or fish from a boat.
"When you feel your croaker jumping around and getting nervous, get ready because a big speckled trout is looking at that croaker with its sharp pointy teeth, and you’re about to get a bite,” says Capt. Kyle Jarreau of Shore Thing Charters, headquartered in Bay St. Louis.

Just like a pool shark calls his shot before the pool cue ever hits the ball, Jarreau knows when, where and how the speckled trout and the redfish will bite around Cat Island.

“After we get the trout fired up on live bait, then we switch over to plastic lures like Strike King’s Glass Minnows,” Jarreau explains. “Once the trout on the reef start feeding, you don’t have to be as particular about your bait. The secret is to keep catching the trout until you limit out.”

We kept catching 2- to 3-pound trout on almost every cast when I fished with Jarreau, until I stopped to take pictures. When the picture-taking session ended, the trout had moved, and the fishing was much slower.

Between the beach and the barrier islands on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast lie plenty of oyster reefs, man-made reefs, bars, drop-offs and ledges that hold speckled trout and redfish. Cat Island, one of the barrier islands, has some of the most diverse habitat and fishing on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. You can fish Cat Island a number of ways, including the marsh inside and on the backside of the island; the bay behind the island in protected waters; the front side of the island in the troughs, the bars and other places where big speckled trout and redfish hold; the marsh on the backside of the island or in the bay in a kayak; or a variety of different fishing spots from a boat. You can also wade-fish the bars, the points and the cuts.

The only problem with fishing Cat Island is that 7-mile run across the bay.

“This year, Shore Thing Charters has a Cat Island adventure,” says Capt. Sonny Schindler. “We now have a lodge on Cat Island, and fishing from the dock of the lodge, you can catch speckled trout, redfish and flounder in the marsh.

“Each night our guests can tell us how they want to fish, what type of water they want to fish and when they want to leave and return. If the wind’s blowing on the front side of the island, we’ve got protected waters on the backside and in the marsh where we can fish. If the wind’s coming from the north, we’ve got protected water on the south side of the island to fish. So, there’s never a time we can’t go fishing and catch speckled trout and redfish.”

To fish for flounder at night, the guides at Shore Thing Charters use underwater lights and flounder gigs. If the water’s clear, you may take more fish at night than you do in the daytime. Although there’s no power on Cat Island, the Shore Thing Charters’ lodge has two massive generators that provide lighting, air conditioning and all the comforts of home, including gourmet cuisine.

Jarreau isn’t only a fishing guide; he’s also a chef. Redfish courtbouillon, marinated crab claws, stuffed flounder and trout and redfish prepared any way you can think of always greet the hungry fishermen at night. But the fishing is the real lure of Cat Island.

The diverse habitat and the various types of opportunities you have to fish in a number of ways makes Cat Island an adventure. If the sun gets hot and the action slows while you’re fishing in a boat, you can put on your wading shoes, pull up on one of the bars and fish the cuts. As the water runs over the cuts (little ditches in the sandbars), the trout and the redfish hold in those ditches waiting on bait to come to them. The breaks are where the sandbars drop off to deeper water. The water on top of the bar may be knee- to waist-deep, but taking one or two-more steps will put you in 5- to 10-foot-deep water. These kinds of breaks are where speckled trout, redfish and flounder feed.

“The outgoing tide is the best time to fish the marsh,” Schindler said. “We search for drains coming out of the marsh, because those drains bring shrimp and baitfish out of the marsh into open water where the specks and the reds can feed.

“If you use soft-plastic jigs and bump them on the bottom, you also can catch flounder in these drains. Most days we usually can catch our clients a limit of speckled trout, a limit of redfish and one or two flounder.”

As you run in the boat to different fishing locations and travel to and from Cat Island, you also can check the crab buoys and any floating debris for tripletails.

“The tripletails came in early this year,” Schindler says. “We started catching them at the end of May, and they usually stay here all summer.

“Tripletails are great bonus fish. We use live shrimp to cast above the tripletails and let the current carry the shrimp right in front of their noses. Tripletails are great fighting fish, and they’re delicious to eat.”

To learn more about Shore Thing Charters’ Cat Island adventure trip, visit shorethingcharters.com or contact Schindler at 228-342-2295, or email him at sonnyschindler@yahoo.com. Call Capt. Kyle Jarreau at 228-324-5990, or email him at jusaddwater@aol.com.

Amalie Davis caught this nice speckled trout when she wade-fished the points, drop-offs and cuts at Cat Island.
       





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