One of the few areas that remained opened to fishing throughout this crisis was the Bay of St. Louis. Not only did it remain open, but excellent catches of trout, redfish and flounder were made through the summer. The fish have been extensively tested and are safe to eat, and this fall the excellent fishing continues.
The Bay of St. Louis is bordered by the towns of Pass Christian on the east, Diamondhead on the north and Bay St. Louis on the west. The Jourdan River flows into the bay from the north, and the Wolf River flows in from the east. The bay opens to the south into Mississippi Sound.
Lodging can be found in any of the surrounding communities. The town of Bay St. Louis offers quaint gift shops and galleries in Old Towne that wives might enjoy. Casino gaming and live entertainment can be found at Hollywood Casino.
Seafood and coastal cuisine restaurants abound. A local favorite is Trapani's Eatery. It is owned by Tony Trapani, who grew up fishing in the Bay of St. Louis.
With years of local fishing experience, Trapani believes in fishing the tides.
"The tide has to be moving," he said.
He also believes after a significant rainfall it is better to fish closer to the mouth of the bay in order to move away from the fresh water.
Trapani is also a natural-bait fisherman and says, "Live bait is the key."
Live bait can be obtained at Bay Marina, which is owned and run by Robert Castoro.
"I'll have cocaho minnows throughout the year and live shrimp until the first freeze," Castoro said.
A boat launch and fuel dock are located at the marina. RV spots are available, and are generally used by weekend fishermen from more northern parts of the state.
Castoro is a good source of up-to-date fishing information. His general recommendation for November would be to fish the spots in the Jourdan River as the weather cools.
All the spots listed can be fished using a small boat without special equipment. Caution should be used, however, because in November cold fronts can sometimes bring strong winds that make the bay rough. On these days, the last four spots are the most protected and can be fished except in the worst weather conditions.
No. 1: Bay of St. Louis Train Bridge
(N 30 18.665 x W 89 18.919)
This spot is most productive early in November. Fish can be found anywhere along the trestles, but the west end of the bridge seems most consistent. Fishing during a moderately moving tide is best. Live bait or fresh dead shrimp fished on the bottom will catch a variety of species.
Live cocaho minnows are likely to entice speckled trout and flounder. Live shrimp can catch speckled trout, white trout, flounder and redfish. Dead shrimp can be used to catch any of those species, but also black drum and sheepshead.
Some days it is best to anchor upcurrent and allow the bait to drift back toward the bridge. Other days it is best to anchor at the bridge and let your line drift back downcurrent away from the bridge. Experiment to see which is better. If several other boats are already fishing in the same position, first try aligning your boat like the others.
If you are an artificial-lure fanatic, you have two options. When the current is almost slack, you can pitch soft-plastic baits toward the trestles while using your trolling motor to maneuver. Later in the month after the water has cooled, you can slow-troll along the trestles using hard-plastic baits. A sinking MirrOlure or Rat-L-Trap would be a good choice. This method can be slow, but can produce some monster trout.
No 2: Highway 90 Bridge
(N 30 19.054 x W 89 18.287)
White trout love this bridge. When they are biting, there may be as many as two dozen boats fishing the bridge at the same time. If no other boats are fishing, still give this spot a try. While other fishermen may be watching an SEC football game on television, you could be loading your ice chest with fish.
Fish can be caught on either the inside or outside of the bridge, but the outside seems more consistent on either an incoming or outgoing tide. The key is the tide must be moving. The spans just to the west of the channel are generally best.
The trout here seem to be very finicky. At times they only want live bait (shrimp or minnows), while other times they will only take dead shrimp. Rarely they can be caught on small soft-plastic baits or the old-fashioned shad rig. Try fishing with a drop-shot rig bringing your bait 6 to 12 inches off the bottom. Another method is with a split-shot sinker, throwing your line parallel to the bridge and allowing the bait to drift back into the current.
Choosing the right method can make you look like a fishing magician hauling in fish left and right, while the poor guy anchored next to you might not get a bite.
No. 3: Grassy Point
(N 30 21.644 x W 89 18.721)
Water flows around this point bringing bait and trout with it. An outgoing tide generally is better. Fish a live shrimp or cocaho under a popping cork. Cast out into the bay away from the point. School-sized speckled trout and occasional white trout can be caught with this method. A soft-plastic bait under a popping cork can also work well when the trout are schooled up.
Cast a live or dead shrimp toward the point, and you might catch a redfish.
No. 4: Northeast Shoreline from Grassy Point
(N 30 22.194 x W 89 18.594)
Using a trolling motor, work your way along this shore toward the GPS location. This is primarily a redfish and flounder spot. Be careful. This area is shallow, but can be fished with a bay boat.
If three people are on your boat, each should fish differently. Have one fish for redfish, one fish for flounder and the third fish for speckled trout. Trout are more likely at this location on an outgoing tide. Redfish are slightly more common on an incoming tide.
Redfish feed predominantly near the shore here. Cast toward the shore, and work your bait back toward the boat. Redfish at this location can be big. Have a net handy and be prepared for a fight. Be quiet. Watch the water carefully. Look for schools of spotted tails sticking out of the water. Live or dead shrimp under a popping cork work well, but a gold spoon or in-line spinner can be deadly.
When fishing for flounder, again cast toward the shore. Live or dead bait under a popping cork work well for flounder also. If you want to use an artificial, use a white grub with a red paddle tail. Work the grub slowly along the bottom. You can sweeten the grub by tipping it with a piece of dead shrimp.
For speckled trout, use a live bait under a popping cork. This time throw out away from the shore. Several small bayous flow out of the marsh into the Bay of St. Louis along this shoreline. Sometimes trout will be waiting at the mouths of these bayous during a falling tide. They will be feeding on the minnows and shrimp coming out of the marsh.
No. 5: Dupont Pier
(N 30 22.427 x W 89 19 .364)
Dupont Chemical Corporation has a pigment plant on the north shore of the Bay of St. Louis. Two piers come out into the bay from their site. The remains of the older pier generally is better. There is a shell bottom here, so be prepared to lose some terminal tackle.
Cast toward the pier structure for flounder and reds. Try live or dead bait on the bottom or under a popping cork. Soft-plastic baits fished on the bottom also produce at times.
No. 6: Northwest Shore of Bay of St. Louis
(N 30 21.442 x W 89 21.666)
A general location is given, but this whole shoreline holds fish. This area is extremely shallow, and can only be fished with a flatboat or kayak. Fish on a high tide along the shore using a trolling motor.
At the beginning of a falling tide you can anchor at the mouth of the small bayous that flow into the bay.
Live bait under a popping cork can be used at the mouths of bayous, but either a white grub with a red tail or gold spoon should be used working the shoreline for flounder and reds.
No 7: Cutoff Bayou above Twin Lakes
(N 30 21.476 x W 89 23.674)
When the tide is not moving any place else, this is the place to be. Even at slack tide, there is generally a surface flow of fresh water coming from the Jourdan River. This is a narrow area that funnels fish and bait from the Jourdan River to the Bay of St. Louis. This spot can get plenty of boat traffic. It usually is better to fish early in the morning or later in the evening. On cold days, the joy riders stay at home and you can fish here all day.
The primary catch here is speckled trout, but redfish, drum, sheepshead and even bass sometimes show up. Try live bait free lined with a split-shot sinker first. A popping cork or sinker on the bottom should be tried next. If three people are in the boat, each person should try a different method. Convert to the method that starts catching fish. Once the fish are located in the water column, you can convert to a soft plastic.
While anchored here, you may have boats pass that are slow-trolling for trout. Particularly toward the end of November, this becomes a productive way to fish the entire length of Cutoff Bayou.
No. 8: Cutoff Bayou at Jourdan River
(N 30 21.633 x W 89 23.844)
This spot changes from the beginning to the end of November. Early in the month, speckled trout, redfish, drum and bass can be caught under a float or on the bottom. Beginning Thanksgiving week, start fishing for speckled trout exclusively on the bottom.
Just upriver toward the I-10 bridge crossing the Jourdan River, there is a deep hole. When the weather turns cold, the trout stack up in here near the bottom. The deep water has higher salinity and remains warmer than the fresher air-chilled surface water. Fish the bottom with a live cocaho or work a soft-plastic lure slowly along the bottom. A sinking MirrOlure or Rat-L-Trap work well also.
This time of the year old timers will troll through the hole using lead core or wire line to bring their hard-plastic baits close to the bottom. Their catches can, at times, be no less than phenomenal, with limits of 4- to 6-pound trout.
This small stretch of river is very predictable the end of November unless heavy rainfall causes the water to become extremely muddy and fresh.
No. 9: Entrance to Crump Lake
(N 30 21.487 x W 89 24.139)
The flow of water moves in or out of Crump Lake at this point in the Jourdan River. Rising and falling tides are equally productive. Cast either toward the entrance or out into the deeper river. Live bait works well here, but later in the month artificial can be equally productive. An unusual feature of this spot is that here freshwater Gulp lures work very well on speckled trout.
Speckled trout predominate at this spot, particularly as the month progresses. Early in the month they can be caught using popping corks. As the water cools, they suspend at intermediate depths. By the end of November, they have moved to the bottom.
No 10: Catfish Bayou
(N 30 20.189 x W 89 22.690)
Baitfish can stack up in this cut between the Jourdan River and the Bay of St. Louis. Watch your depth here as there is a steep drop off into a deep channel. It is best to enter from the deeper river side. The bayou empties onto very shallow flats at the Bay of St. Louis. This entrance can only be navigated by a flat boat or kayak.
Speckled trout, white trout, reds and flounder are found here in the beginning of the month.
The trout are found over the holes anywhere in the water column. Reds can be found either on the bottom along the drop off or along the shore near the grasses. Flounder are more likely to be found in the shallow water along the shore.
Live or fresh bait is the ticket here.
In general, the fishing is better at the beginning of November at the southern portion of the bay. At the end of November, it is better at the northern locations.
Trapani's Eatery, 833 Highway 90, Bay St. Louis, 228-467-8570; Bay Marina, 100 Bay Marina Drive, Bay St. Louis, 228-466-4970; Hollywood Casino, 711 Hollywood Blvd., Bay St. Louis, 228-469-2100.