Red snapper season arrives this month, and with a two-fish limit, everyone wants to know how to catch the big ones.
Capt. Bobby Williams of the charter boat Three Sons IV based at Biloxi Small Craft Harbor has fished these waters for 45 years, and shared some thoughts.
"We’ll be fishing the wrecks, rigs and our private reefs for 8- to 25-pound red snapper about 27 days out of this month," said Williams. "We start by chumming the snapper to get them off the reef and high in the water, and to catch the biggest red snapper, we use 25-pound-test fluorocarbon line.
"On the end of the line, we’ll tie a white-and-yellow hair jig and tip it with a shrimp or a squid. We’ll cast the jig out behind the boat on spinning tackle and let it free-fall. We’ve found that the big snapper usually will hold closer to the bottom and be behind the schooling snapper feeding at the surface."
For chum, Williams uses cut pogeys, cut mullet or a Berkley chum bag with Killer Bee Bait’s chum.
"We can get the snapper so close to the surface that you can probably dip them up in a net if you’re fast enough," he said.
To land big snapper, Williams suggested fishing with a Fin-Nor medium-action spinning rod and a Penn Spinfisher V spinning reel. Often with the Spinfisher V, he’ll use braided line on the back end of the reel and a 4-foot leader tied directly to braided or monofilament line.
The big snapper often will come up from behind the boat to attack the jig as it falls, and anglers usually can land these fish on this light line and prevent the snapper from going back down into the rig or wreck.
"When we go snapper fishing, we usually catch more than the limit of two snapper per person," Williams said. "We’ll also catch cobia, black snapper, triggerfish, redfish and often king mackerel."
Inshore fishing is still hot
Capt. Bill McDonnell of Dominator Fishing Charters docks his big boat at Point Cadet Marina in Biloxi, but he also trailers a smaller boat for inshore fishing.
And, although the red snapper will be the glamour fish this month on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, McDonnell said you’ll find plenty of inshore fish willing to bite.
"The best place to find speckled trout, redfish, white flounder, mullet and flounder in June is on the Katrina Reef about two miles offshore," McDonnell said. "Just east of the Katrina Reef, a man-made reef loads up with white trout, speckled trout and sharks.
"Last year, we also caught a good number of Spanish mackerel there. About three miles west of the Point Cadet Harbor, you’ll find some rocks and riprap at the mouth of the Biloxi Harbor that are productive."
McDonnell suggested fishing with 15-pound-test monofilament or fluorocarbon line, with a No. 1/0 hook and possibly a split sinker a foot or 2 up the line to help the line go down.
If the current’s running strong, he recommends a Carolina rig with a slip sinker up the line, two plastic beads below the line, a barrel swivel and about 2 feet of leader going to the hook.
"On most June days we can catch five to 10 speckled trout, 20 to 30 white trout, a few flounder and possibly a redfish or two," he said.
To catch really big June fish inshore, McDonald recommended fishing Ship Island 12-miles offshore of Biloxi, where you’ll find, "some rock piles just under the water, several wrecks and a few petroleum stickups that look like little oil wells that will be producing speckled trout in the 4- to 6-pound range."
McDonnell fishes extensively for trout at Ship Island with live croakers. He uses a 1/0 or 2/0 hook and a Carolina rig with a 3-foot leader so the croakers can swim up from the bottom and attract those big trout.
The secret to catching speckled trout is to get to the place you want to fish just at daylight, since the best bite tends to be in the first two hours of the day.
For more fishing tips, get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBook "Fishing Mississippi’s Gulf Coast and Visitor’s Guide." You can go to http://www.amazon.com/b/?&node=1286228011, type in the name of the book, and download it to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.