Capt. Rimmer Covington of the Mexican Gulf Fishing Company, one of the new breed of offshore fishermen, runs a sleek, fast and powerful striker boat. Covington's 39-foot custom SeaVee with three, 350-horsepower Yamaha engines on the back allows him to leave Biloxi and be 70 miles or more offshore in less than two hours under good weather and water conditions.

These fast boats give anglers more fishing time and less running time.

"In February, we catch the biggest grouper, scamp, wahoo and tuna of the year," Covington said. "From Feb. 1 to 15, we can catch black grouper, red grouper and gag grouper. But from Feb. 15 to March 15, grouper season is closed.

"However, we still catch plenty of nice-sized scamp at the end of February.

"We jig for scamp on rigs, wrecks and live bottom in 200 to 300 feet of water using 8-, 12- and 16-ounce Shimano Butterfly jigs, depending on the strength of the current. I use 80-pound-test Jerry Brown Holo Core Spectra line as a main line attached to 25 feet of fluorocarbon wind-on leader.

"Because of the size of our jigs, our fishermen can feel the jigs fall down vertically through the structure, while I try to keep the boat from drifting. We often can get our limits of scamp quickly using this tactic, and generally, we won't catch grouper.

"Besides grouper and scamp, February is the best month to catch wahoo that weigh more than 100 pounds. We start catching wahoo in rigs from 150 to 400 feet deep. We use live bait, like bonito and mullet, and we also use a kite and suspend our baits in the top 2 feet of water.

"Also, we pull shaky baits, like the MirrOlure baits; pink is my favorite color. The purple and black Yo-Zuri Bonito is also a trusted bait to troll for wahoo.

"When we're (trolling) baits, we pull at speeds of about 4 to 8 knots. We fish two segments of water when we fish live baits for wahoo. We rig live bait on kites to carry the bait away from the boat and allow it to skip over the waves. Then the bait's partially in the water and occasionally coming out of the water. We also use downriggers to troll live bait for wahoo from 25 to 150 feet deep.

"Our average-sized wahoo this month will weigh about 50 pounds. Although you can catch 100-pound-plus wahoo any time, to specifically target wahoo that weigh 100 pounds or more, February is the month to fish. In February 2008, we caught a wahoo that weighed 107.4 pounds.

"Although we attempt to catch about three wahoo per person, wahoo fishing is feast or famine. Typically, if you catch one, you'll catch a number. Wahoo will bite all day, when they're biting. If you're not catching any wahoo, more than likely you won't catch one.

"Our most-productive days to fish for wahoo are when the moon is the brightest at night and right before or during a weather front. If you're fishing during a bad-weather front, you need to stay close to shore, so if the weather gets rough, you can return to shore quickly.

"This month, we also fish for yellowfin tuna with mullet at the Midnight Lump. We also do well fishing for tuna over wrecks and the floater rigs off the Mississippi Coast by chumming and using live bait. We catch blackfin tuna too, however, the yellowfin tuna is the glamour fish.

"We'll use cast nets for mullet around the marinas or in the bayous. We like to fish with 8- to 12-inch-long mullet for tuna, but prefer to fish 16-inch-or-longer mullet. These big mullet are the best baits for tuna.

"We fish mullet on kites, flat lines behind the boat or outriggers. We try to hold the boat steady upcurrent of the structure we're fishing, and let the current and the wind take the bait back to the tuna. I bump the boat in and out of gear to keep it steady, while the bait drifts back to the tuna.

"Most tuna we catch at this time of year will be in the 100-pound range, but bigger tuna weighing 200 pounds are caught this month as well.

"The mangrove snapper is an added bonus to many of our offshore trips to the rigs. Since no one has fished for them for several months, they're much easier to catch. The size of mangrove snapper we catch this month is usually better than in the spring and the summer.

"We generally find mangroves, which aren't nearly as skittish during the colder months as they are in the warmer months, in 50 to 200 feet of water. We usually can chum them up close to the surface and take a limit. Most of these snapper will be in the 4- to 6-pound range, a nice-sized mangrove snapper.

"The only negative about fishing in February is the unpredictable weather. However, if we get offshore, and the weather turns bad, those three 350-horsepower engines will get us back to port quickly, ahead of the storm.

"You can fish with us at any time of year, but if you want to catch really big tuna, wahoo, scamp and mangrove snapper, plan to come during February.

 

To contact Captain Rimmer Covington, visit www.mgfishing.com, or call 601-951-3981.