Offshore May with Capt. Travis Paige
Travis Paige of Goin' Coastal Charters (http://goincoastalcharters.com, 228-297-0207) based out of the Biloxi Boardwalk Marina said everything is cranking up this month.
"We'll also have Spanish and king mackerel showing up in May," Paige said. "Also, the redfish and speckled trout are moving out to the islands."
During the cobia migrations in late spring, Paige fishes the bars outside the islands with chum and live white trout or hardhead catfish, a preferred cobia bait for many years.
Some anglers cut off the dorsal and pectoral fins, thinking the fin barbs could keep a cobia from taking the bait. Other anglers don't cut-off the fins, since they want the catfish to swim naturally.
Paige said the size and health of the catfish determines whether or not he cuts-off the barbs.
"If a catfish is more than 8-inches long, I'll cut off the fins," Paige explained. "I hook the catfish in the back behind the dorsal fin. Some of the catfish we'll let swim with a balloon up the line to use as a cork, and other catfish will swim free.
"Another tactic is to use a Carolina rig with a slip sinker up the line and a barrel swivel tied to 3 feet of leader. I let the catfish swim just above the bottom.
"If we're chumming, we bait with catfish and put the live catfish out on different lines to fish different depths of water in the chum slick. If you have a tower on your boat, you can spot the cobia and cast to them with catfish or live eels. Later in the year, we'll cast jigs to them around the channel markers."
Paige also fishes around oil tankers anchoring at Horn Island while they wait for berths at the port.
"We'll cast feather jigs all the way around the tankers," he said. "If we see a cobia follow the jig up, we'll cast to that same spot with live baits. You can catch two to eight cobia on a good day using these tactics. Females usually will be larger than the males that follow them."
Trolling around oil and gas rigs is the best bet for king mackerel.
"Most fishermen pull spoons, dusters or live bait," Paige said. "Often you'll see birds diving on baitfish over primarily Spanish mackerel closer to the islands, and birds diving over deeper water generally means the schools are king mackerel."
Paige puts out lines with different sizes of weights and uses planers to spread out his lines - both tactics aimed at fishing different segments of the water column.
According to Paige, his favorite spoon is the No. 3 Drum Spoon in blue, pink, silver or gold.
"I'll also pull different sizes of spoons - smaller ones for Spanish mackerel and bigger ones for king mackerel," he said.
Inshore with Capt. Dustin Trochesset
Dustin Trochesset of the Big Fish (228-860-0189) docked at the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor is a third-generation Mississippi Gulf Coast fisherman who guides inshore light-tackle anglers.
"This month I'll be fishing around the barrier islands and on the beach at Deer Island or the Katrina Reef," he said. "Ship, Horn and Cat islands are also productive areas for speckled trout.
"I fish both grubs and live shrimp."
Trochesset fishes jigs in chartreuse, salt-and-pepper with chartreuse tails and avocado with red flake. At the barrier islands, he'll look for grass beds or the artificial reefs the state has created around the islands.
"I fish whatever baits my customer wants to fish," Trochesset explained. "If my customers haven't fished for speckled trout previously, I'll use live bait. For more-experienced customers, I usually start with artificial lures but always have live shrimp."
Trochesset uses a popping cork with about 25 inches of leader, and a live shrimp on a No. 1 hook and possibly with a small split-shot up the line. Popping the cork sounds like trout feeding, and when the trout hear that, they'll spot the live shrimp and eat them.
"I also fish the same rig with a grub behind the cork," Trochesset said. "Trout are aggressive fish, and I get their attention with a cork. I also fish the Top Dog, the Top Dog Jr. or a topwater MirrOLure early in the morning.
"The topwater bite is usually best when there's no wind and when the sky starts to lighten just before sunrise. You can use a walk-the-dog retrieve."
When fishing over grass beds, Trochesset fishes with live shrimp while drifting, using the same popping-cork and topwater techniques to pick up some redfish around the islands and reefs.
"A cut in Ship Island is where I anchor and use live croakers on a Carolina rig or fresh-cut mullet for redfish," he said.
Trochesset recommended fishing close to the islands in shallow water and hopping a grub along the bottom for flounder. He'll often cast onto the beach, drag his grub into the water and work it across the bottom.
Many of the artificial reefs are made of rock rubble, and if you can drag the jig across the rubble without getting hung up, you can catch flounder.
"I like to fish the east end of Ship Island or behind Deer Island for flounder in shallow water," he said.
For tripletails, Trochesset tries to find a tide rip with structure floating on the surface, such as a five-gallon bucket or some trash.
"Once I find that structure, I like to bait with live shrimp, cast past the structure and pull the shrimp up to the structure's edge," he said. "If the shrimp gets the tripletail's attention, you'll have a fish on your line."
Trochesset fishes the channel markers by using a shrimp under a cork, casting it past the markers and letting the tide carry the shrimp past the buoys.