Alex McIngvale, a saltwater fisherman for 20 years, said the fishing along the coast is picking up and can provide plenty of meat for the table.
“You’ll be very excited about the number of eatable fish you can catch in a half-day fishing trip in May,” McIngyale said. “Often a customer won’t bring an ice chest big enough to hold all the gallon bags of fillets they’ll have.”
And the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources has built many inshore reefs with oyster reefs, sunken barges and vessels within easy access of the beach.
Although public reefs get quite a bit of fishing pressure, two secrets will produce plenty of fish from them in May: Get to the public reefs before daylight, and move to another spot with less fishing pressure once the crowds start building.
Early morning fishing for trout
“I like to get to the public reefs before daylight and leave by 5 a.m. to beat the other fishermen,” McIngvale said. “As the water warms up, we’ll cast topwater lures in hopes of catching the bigger, 2- to 4-pound speckled trout. The reefs on the inside and the outside, and charter boat wrecks can produce a good mixed catch of fish this month.
“I always carry live bait like live shrimp, finger mullet and small croakers. I like to catch live pogies in my cast net.
“When we get to the reef, we’ll start fishing purple-and-black Top Dogs, with a slow twitch retrieve to catch the speckled trout.”
If the trout stop biting these, he switches to Top Dogs in red-and-white, chartreuse and natural colors with stripes on them.
McIngvale uses 30-pound-test braid for his main line, with 3 to 4 feet of 20- to 30-pound flourocarbon leader. To connect the braid to the leader, he uses a Uni-knot so he can reel the knot through the guides of his rods.
“The topwater bites usually produce our biggest trout,” McIngvale explains.
McIngvale also will have some of his anglers casting live shrimp under corks, free-lining live shrimp and fishing soft-plastic grubs and jig tails under corks.
Sheepshead, black drum and redfish
“The trout and redfish are bonus fish for the morning,” McIngvale said. “As the sun moves higher, we usually switch over to live bait and fish for sheepshead, black drum and redfish on or near the bottom. We generally can keep rods bent.
“After our party has caught all these species, we’ll move to some of the reefs and wrecks that most people don’t know about and try to catch more speckled trout. Or, we may run to the marsh and sight fish for slot reds.”
The newest technique McIngvale has used is fishing rubber mice for redfish.
Anglers have had success with fishing rubber mice for reds on 30-pound-test braided line tied straight to the lures.
“We just cast the Livetarget Field Mouse out in front of the redfish we can see tailing in 12 to 18 inches of water in the marsh and twitch the mouse,” McIngvale said. “Reds will explode on it.”
McIngvale recommended that anglers who choose to fish all day long fish the Louisiana marsh, Chandeleur Sound or the barrier islands like Ship Island or Cat Island.
For all-day trips, McIngvale leaves the dock at 5 a.m. He fishes for big trout at sunrise and catches speckled trout and redfish with a few flounder.
“For the first two or three hours in the morning, we’ll fish for speckled trout,” McIngvale said. “Then, we start looking for redfish. On the islands in the marsh, we’ll search for cuts, points, ditches, shell banks and shell reefs. Also, fishing well heads may produce nice trout in May.”
McIngvale lets the trout tell him what they want to bite. With four anglers in a party, he’ll have one angler casting soft-plastic jigs, another fishing a Carolina rig with a live shrimp on the bottom, the third angler fishing a live shrimp under a popping cork and the fourth angler free-lining shrimp.
“After we’ve caught trout and redfish, I start looking for cobia,” McIngvale said. “May is early for tripletails.
“On the east side of the Biloxi Marsh or Chandeleur Sound, we’ll look in a few places where cobia gang up during May. I like to fish small wrecks in 18 to 20 feet of water with either live croakers or pinfish for cobia.
“I’ll circle the wreck a couple of times to see if the cobia come up behind the boat. If they do, we sight cast to them with a live bait on a No. 4/0 hook tied to 4 to 6 feet of flourocarbon leader, tied to either 30-pound or 60-pound-test braided line.
“If we don’t see the cobia, we’ll anchor and fish live bait half way up from the bottom, while someone else casts and retrieves a bucktail jig. Often we’ll catch a limit of trout and redfish, and perhaps one or two cobia.”