Fish the Chandeleur Islands

Capt. Robbie Thornton of Southern Sports Fishing’s The IV said August is a great month to go to the Chandeleur Islands.

"I think everyone should go to the Chandeleur Islands at least once in his or her lifetime, if not every year," he said.

Thornton’s boat promises great food, comfortable accommodations and plenty of wade fishing or fishing from a skiff. Thornton’s family has run Chandeleur Island trips for 30 years, and he’s been operating the boat for the last 15 years.

"August will be warm, so the trout will move out to the deeper water," Thornton said. "On the islands, deep water can be 5 to 7 feet or as much as 15 feet.

"If you’re fishing the front beach, the specks and reds will be running the guts and cuts in about 5 or 6 feet of water. We use all artificial lures, and recommend the Norton Sand Shad or Berkley Gulp! baits. The most-productive colors seem to be electric chicken, strawberry with a white tail, and orange-and-white with a chartreuse tail.

"You can catch some nice trout in August, and generally you catch more trout than earlier in the year, but they’ll be smaller, averaging about 2 pounds."

Although the lure of trout draws anglers to these islands, you’ll also catch redfish and an occasional flounder. If you find the right bay or cove or the right drop-off ledge or eddy spot, you might load the boat with flounder.

"Most of the redfish will weigh less than 15 pounds, and the flounder can be any size," Thornton said. "Occasionally, one of our anglers will catch a nice cobia that’s moving into the grass to spawn. We’ve also jumped tarpon, and caught both king and Spanish mackerel, and many other species of fish in these areas in August."

When you go to the Chandeleur Islands in August, you get up early, have a delicious breakfast, fish hard all morning long until the weather gets too hot, come back to the mother ship, eat lunch, cool down, take a nap and be ready to fish all afternoon until dinnertime, while enjoying an adventure and great fishing.

To learn more about a Chandeleur Islands trip, go to www.southernsportsfishing.com or call 866-763-7335.

Learn about tuna, grey snapper and gag grouper

Offshore fishing has been fantastic this summer, and tuna have been a big drawing card for anglers.

But where do the tuna come from, where do they go, how fast do they grow, and when and where do they have their young?

All these questions have to be answered for Mississippi’s Gulf Coast to continue to have good tuna fishing.

"The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs just has began a collaboration with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to study the yellowfin tuna," the lab’s Jim Franks said. "We want to learn the age, growth, reproduction, feeding habits and migratory habits of the yellowfin tuna off the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts.

"We’ll be attaching satellite tags to the tuna to enable us to track the movements of the tuna in the Gulf of Mexico. We’ll also be studying the yellowfin tuna brought to the docks by fishermen to determine what their ages are, what they’re feeding on and when they spawn. This multi-year study — the first time a life study research project has been performed on yellowfin tuna — has just begun to put together the pieces of the life history of the yellowfin tuna. Hopefully by this time next year we’ll have some great results."

The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory is also studying grey snapper, called by many black snapper, and the gag grouper.

"We’re trying to document these two species’ uses of artificial habitat in their early years of life though a study conducted off the Mississippi coast," said Franks. "Our previous research tends to indicate that artificial habitat is very important to these two species, especially in their first year of life before these two species move offshore into bigger habitat and deeper water.

"We’re using electronic tags by surgically implanting an acoustical device with its own code number to gather information to detect the movements of these fish. We’re trying to show that these young fish find the artificial reefs and stay there for a period of time. We want to learn how long these fish use this habitat, before they move offshore."

This research and knowledge will help manage these fish for future generations.