According to Capt. Sonny Schindler of Shore Thing Charters out of Bay St. Louis, “June is the Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby, Daytona 500 and the Stanley Cup of fishing. All the fish that we catch throughout the summer show up this month, and they’re hungry.”
Baitfish have moved in, and the birds are working the bait. The shrimp, speckled trout, redfish, flounder and tripletail bite really turns on this month.
Big speckled trout
If you’re looking for big speckled trout, Schindler suggests fishing live bait over the oyster reefs and man-made artificial reefs along Mississippi’s Gulf Coast.
"You can catch the bigger trout with soft-plastic lures, swimbaits, topwater lures and shrimp imitations," he said. "But, your best bet is to fish live bait that will yield more, bigger and quicker catches of big trout than artificial baits will."
Schindler uses the word, "quicker," because the best big-trout bite usually comes early and late, and might not last for more than an hour or two. The quicker you can catch the big trout, the more big trout you can catch.
"I classify big trout as fish that will weigh 2 to 4 pounds and an occasional trout that weighs more than 4 pounds," Schindler said. "Most of the bait shops will have live croakers and, depending on the number of anglers I have, I’ll often purchase several hundred live croakers for our fishing."
When Schindler’s rigging for trophy trout, he uses 20-pound-test braided line and a 1/2- to a 3/8-ounce sinker up the line.
On the end of the line, Schindler ties a barrel swivel, a 1 1/2- to 2-foot length of 20-pound-test fluorocarbon leader, and a kahle hook in sizes ranging from 1/0 to 4/0.
"If you’re catching 1- to 2-pound trout, you may want to stay with a 1/0 to 2/0 hook," Schindler said. "But, a big trout will straighten these hooks out. So, if you’re fishing for really-big trout, a 3/0 or 4/0 hook may be the best."
Schooling speckled trout
If you prefer to catch a lot of trout and size doesn’t matter, you can definitely fish for schooling speckled trout this month.
"After the big-trout bite turns off, we can fish for schooling trout pretty much all day long," Schindler said.
Schooling trout will be chasing shrimp moving close to and flipping on the surface, which attracts the seagulls. The seagulls will start diving on the shrimp.
That means anywhere you see birds diving you’re usually going to catch speckled trout and redfish.
"You can wear yourself out catching and releasing these schooling trout all day long," Schindler said.
To catch schoolies, Schindler recommended using a popping cork with any color of lead-head jig with a plastic body set to dangle about 1- to 2-feet under the cork.
As long as you don’t run through the school or make a lot of noise in the boat, you can catch numbers of trout using this method.
"We’re fishing with spinning tackle and either drifting with the wind or using our trolling motor to fish the outer edges of the school," Schindler mentions. "You may catch some undersized trout and some white trout, as well as keeper trout. But, fishing the birds is about as much fun as you can have when trout fishing on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast.
"Many times each person will have two jigs on the same line. With four people in the boat, I’ve seen eight trout before come onboard at the same time.
"If you find birds working in water that’s 3 feet deep or less, you’ll usually catch the bigger trout. If the water’s deeper than 3 feet, the trout you take generally will be smaller."
"Sometimes, when you’re chasing schools of trout under the birds, you’ll start catching some of the big bull reds that can weigh from 25 to 30 pounds." Schindler said. "To catch the smaller slot-sized redfish, fish the edges of the grass on the outside of the marsh.
"You really need moving water to get the slot reds to bite."
"Flounder are generally incidental catches for us," Schindler said. "Your best bet for catching flounder during the hot months is to gig them at night around Horn Island and Cat Island.
"Water clarity and wind will provide the most-productive places to gig."
Tripletails have showed up early this year on the Gulf Coast — first appearing in mid-April.
"We expect to have both quantity and quality of tripletails in June," Schindler said. "Any object floating on the water can hold tripletails. Crab-trap buoys and debris like wooden pallets and trees, where the tripletails can find shad and ambush shrimp and other fish, will be good areas to fish for them.
"The first tripletail I caught this month, I caught under a patio chair that was floating. The average tripletail you catch in June will weigh about 8 pounds, but last year, half a dozen tripletails that we caught weighed 20-pounds plus. Our biggest tripletail last year weighed 27 pounds."
Schindler uses a 1/0 live-bait hook and the biggest live shrimp he can buy to fish for the tripletail. He puts a cork about 1- to 3-feet up his 20- to 30-pound-test braided line, and he doesn’t use any type of weight.
"The secret to catching tripletails is to know when to strike the fish," he said. "A tripletail just sucks the bait in, therefore the bite is subtle. You have to set the hook quickly."
Rarely does Schindler or any other captain at Shore Thing Charters target tripletails, but they do look for them on the way out to fishing spots for specks and reds, when they’re coming in from a day of fishing, and when the sun’s high and bright.
To fish with Capt. Schindler, call him at 221-342-2206 or go to www.shorethingcharters.com.