December's a great month for fishing the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and Steve Perrigin of Strictly Fishin' and the Fighting Chicken Sport Fishing charters, is double dipping the fishing resource around Biloxi and Gulfport, fishing both inshore and offshore.

"In December, I'll be fishing the back-bay areas of Biloxi," he said. "The amount of rainfall and the weather temperatures will determine how and where I fish this month.

"If the weather stays warm, and there's not a lot of rain, I'll find plenty of speckled trout and redfish on grass beds and in shallow water. But if the area receives a lot of rain, and the weather cools down, the fish will move to deeper holes in channels.

Shallow-water fishing

"If the area has warm weather and little or no rain, I'll be fishing live shrimp under a popping cork along the grass beds in the shallow flats, using a No. 2 or 4 kahle hook. The leader going from the hook to the popping cork will run 2 to 5 feet, depending on the depth of the grass. I want to keep my live shrimp just above the grass.

"I prefer rattling corks like the Cajun Thunder, rigged with 12-pound-test line on the reel and a Shimano 2000 Stradic reel for my leader.

"Because I've fished this section of the Gulf Coast for many years, I know where the trout will show-up every year. So I'll go to these places first, but I'll also keep an eye out for working birds. When I see seagulls diving on baitfish, I know the trout are pushing those baitfish up to the surface. I'll try to get upwind of the birds and drift into that school of trout.

Rain and cold weather

"If the Gulf Coast has lots of rain and cold weather this month, the trout will move into the deep holes in the bayous, like Davis Bayou and Fort Bayou Bluff. I'll anchor-up on deep holes, put a split shot about 2 feet above my hook, cast the live shrimp out and let it free-swim toward the bottom.

"The salt water, because it's heavier, will be in the bottoms of these holes where the speckled trout and redfish are holding. In these conditions, the trout won't bite fast or hit hard.

"I'll also fish a 1/4-ounce chartreuse jighead with a chartreuse-colored H&H Sparkle Beetle, slow-hopping it off the bottom. I let the tide move the boat, and use the trolling motor to steer the boat as we fish these holes. Our primary catch will be speckled trout, but we'll also catch a few redfish and saltwater stripers.

Gulf Coast stripers

"Many people don't realize that we still have a run of Gulf Coast stripers that come up into these bays and bayous during winter months. We have old-time fishermen here who still consistently fish for this Gulf Coast-strain of stripers with crankbaits like Rat-L-Traps in deep holes.

"During the winter, I'll catch three or four of them. Although I won't catch many, they are fun to catch.

Bulls on the island

"If my customers want to catch big bull redfish, we'll travel to the barrier islands. I'll anchor-up and put some chum in the water on the incoming or the outgoing tide. By this time of year, sharks have left this region, so we can chum-up the redfish without chumming-up sharks.

"When I'm fishing for the big bull reds, I'll fish both live and dead bait. Five- or 6-inch-long croakers are my favorite live baits to hook through their noses and send them to the bottom.

"When I'm fishing for big bull reds, I beef up my tackle with Penn 320 GTi reels on a stout rod with 30-pound-test monofilament line and a No. 4/0 to 6/0 hook. I'll usually have a 3- to a 4-ounce sinker up the line to keep the bait on the bottom. Below the sinker, I'll have a barrel swivel with 3 to 4 feet of leader coming off it.

"If I'm fishing dead bait, I'll use the same rig, but I'll either use cut pogies or freshly cut white trout.

"Generally, if we catch one redfish, there will be a school with it. On a good day, we may catch as many as 25 redfish, weighing up to 35 pounds each. Most of these fish are longer than 30 inches, so we only can keep one of them. In December, we're fishing for trophy redfish.

Offshore

"Grouper and amberjack are my primary offshore targets. I'll go out to the Continental Shelf to fish natural bottom in water 200- to 700-feet deep, using squid, cut bait and any live bait we can catch. Hardtails are my favorite live bait for offshore fishing.

"On a 12-hour trip, we'll usually produce a limit of five grouper per person and a limit of amberjack per person.

"Also, at this time of year, we've caught plenty of scamp. On a recent trip, we caught 22 scamp weighing from 6 to 8 pounds each. Last year, I caught a 23 1/2-pound scamp that missed the state record by 1 pound.

"We catch all types of grouper, including warsaw grouper, gag grouper, snowy grouper and yellowedge grouper. Our grouper can weigh as much as 225 pounds. As the water cools off, we'll begin catching more gag grouper, and the snowy grouper will get a little thicker. So far this year, I've caught a 41- and a 52-pound snowy grouper.

"I use two, 225-horsepower Honda motors on the back of my 32-foot offshore boat. So we can reach the grouper grounds in about two hours and 45 minutes from the dock, depending on water and weather conditions. Before we reach the grouper grounds, I'll try to put 25 to 30 live baits in our wells.

"In December, our average-sized amberjacks will weigh 45 pounds, but I've caught a 70-pounder with the biggest amberjack ever put on our boat weighing 90 pounds. There are plenty of amberjack out there in December."

 

To contact Steve Perrigin, call 228-217-0458, or visit http://www.strictlyfishincharters.com.com or www.fightingchickensportfishing.com, or email sperrigin@aol.com.