"If you have young folks, old folks or a bunch of buddies who want to go fishing and have their strings stretched, their rods bent and their muscles crying for relief, come fish with us at Bay St. Louis Bridge on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in March," says Capt. Kyle Jarreau of Shore Thing Fishing Charters.

During March, numbers of cold fronts, warm fronts and possibly rain will pass through the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Your best bet is to stay and fish in the protected waters around Bay St. Louis.

"Many anglers are concerned about how cold fronts and warm fronts impact coastal fishing," Jarreau said. "But what we've learned is that when the warm fronts move in, the monster black drum, redfish, puppy drum and slot reds do too.

"The flounder and the sheepshead are always there in March and an occasional speckled trout. We can always catch fish around the bridges, and on many March days, we can load our coolers by only fishing for two hours."

Jarreau usually starts off fishing the bridge, and may fish the surrounding oyster reefs and the front beach as well.

For bait, he uses cracked crab, squid, dead shrimp and bull minnows, when he can get them.


What you'll catch in March

"The fish we're really targeting are the 2- to 4-pound black drum that most people call puppy drum," he said. "Sheepshead that will weigh 2 to 5 pounds are the second fish that we're after, and then we'll fish for slot reds and flounder. Speckled trout are an incidental catch.

"On a good day, we'll usually catch 15 to 18 black drum, one to two dozen sheepshead, three to six redfish and two to five flounder. Now, this is on a day when we don't hook up with the big black drum that often will weigh 30 to 50 pounds, or the big redfish that often weigh 12 pounds plus."


Rigging, equipment

Jarreau rigs two different ways to fish the bridges. Oftentimes, he'll put an egg sinker up the main line, generally 30-pound-test braid, with a barrel swivel below it, and about 2 feet of 20-pound fluorocarbon tied to the bottom end of the barrel swivel. At the end of the leader, Jarreau ties-on a No. 1/0 khale or J hook.

Another rig Jarreau uses is a dropper rig. Instead of putting the hook at the end of the 2-foot fluorocarbon leader, he'll tie a loop in the middle of the leader, and then attach a 1-ounce bell sinker at the bottom of the line, much like a drop-shot rig.

Do carry plenty of extra tackle, because you will get broken off. To land these fish, have a very stiff rod and a strong spinning rig that you can tighten the drag down on fairly tight. You have to have some skill and a lot of luck to get those big fish away from the pilings. Jarreau fishes with Daiwa and Okuma rods and spinning reels and uses these two same rigs to catch all his March fish.


What about flounder?

Jarreau knows that when targeting flounder, the fish usually will hold on the down side of the current flow.

"The Carolina rig or the dropper rig will hold the bait right off the bottom and in the flounder's face," Jarreau said. "But fishing for flounder in March is tough, because there are so many black drum and redfish at this time of year. The black drum and redfish will attack first.

"Knowing that there is an abundance of fish under the bridge, you'll probably think you'll see wall-to-wall boats, but generally not near as many people fish these areas as you think, especially when the weather's cool," Jarreau said. "Also, many anglers are fishing up the rivers for speckled trout.

"However, we know we can catch more fish, and our anglers can have more fun around the bridges than fishing the rivers and hoping to catch speckled trout somewhere. You will catch an occasional trout this way. Since you don't have to make super-long casts, you'll find this area of bridges highly-productive and an excellent place to take first-time anglers."

Capt. Kyle Jarreau can be reached at 228-342-2206.