Capt. Kenny Shiyou of Shore Thing Charters, based at Bay St. Louis, Miss., said he was ready to do battle with one of his favorite quarries.
"I love August, because the weather's hot, and the tripletails are on the buoys," Shiyou said.
He uses the cool of the early morning to fish for speckled trout and redfish. But once the sun climbs high in the sky, he goes in search of tripletails.
"You'll find tripletails on any type of floating structure," Shiyou explained.
Tripletails often hold close to the surface and turn on their sides, so they're easy to spot. However, if Shiyou doesn't spot any tripletails, he'll wait to see if a tripletail surfaces.
"A tripletail will move up and down under a channel marker or a crab-pot buoy," Shiyou reports. "I'll often hold my boat off the buoys for a few minutes to see if a tripletail will come up. Most of the time, if I wait two or three minutes, and if there's a tripletail holding on a buoy, it will show itself."
How to catch a tripletail
"We use the same rod to catch tripletails that we use to catch redfish earlier in the morning," said Shiyou. "We fish with 20-pound-test braided line as a main line. Then we attach a popping cork to the main line above an 8-inch leader of 30-pound-test fluorocarbon with a No. 1 kahle hook on its end.
"The tripletail will have its nose in the current. So, I position my boat down-current of the fish. Then, we cast 4 to 6 feet in front of the fish, and use the line and the current to bring the live shrimp that we use for bait about a foot from the fish."
Live pogeys and dead shrimp also will produce tripletails. But Shiyou believes that if the tripletail won't take a live shrimp, more-than-likely, it won't eat that day.
One of the problems that you'll encounter if you're fishing for tripletails is that often a tripletail will come up and bump the cork but not see the shrimp. Eventually, if you don't try to set the hook when the fish is bumping the cork, it will spot the shrimp.
"I watch the shrimp and the tripletail to try and see the tripletail inhale the shrimp, because often the fish will inhale the shrimp and not sink the cork," Shiyou said. "At times, the tripletail will take the cork under, but when it sucks that shrimp in its mouth, that's the time to set the hook."
Shiyou attempts to lead the tripletail away from the buoy before the fish takes the shrimp. But once the tripletail takes the shrimp, Shiyou turns his boat either to the left or the right to help pull the fish away from the buoy line.
"One of the big problems associated with fishing for a tripletail is once it takes the bait, it often will head back to the buoy rope and wrap your line around it," Shiyou said. "So give the fish slack, and move your boat around the buoy in the same direction that the fish has gone to unwrap your line from the buoy rope before you put pressure on the fish. If you keep your line tight when the fish goes around the buoy rope, the tripletail usually will break your line.
"The biggest tripletail I've ever caught weighed 27 pounds, 1 ounce. That fish wrapped my line around the buoy rope, but I was able to feed it slack line until I could maneuver the boat around the buoy and get a direct line to the fish."
When all the conditions are right, Shiyou considers a day successful if each person on his boat catches two tripletails.
How to eat a tripletail
Shiyou said tripletail make excellent table fare.
"I think they're more tasty than the redfish, the speckled trout or the flounder," he said. "In my opinion, the tripletail is the best-eating inshore fish on the Gulf Coast. I love them."
His favorite presentation calls for pan-seared tripletail on a bet of cooked pasta, with a butter-pecan sauce that has simmered for about two minutes.
"Pour honey into the sauce. When the honey foams-up, pour it over the top of the tripletail fillet and the pasta," Shiyou said.