"There he is!," the three of us shouted out in unison as we cruised by what looked like a grey garbage can lid floating behind the crab pot.
The three of us were as giddy as a gaggle of school girls at a Justin Bieber concert - Capt. Ronnie Daniels; cool as a cucumber.
"Calm down guys," Capt. Ronnie chided, "we have time."
Five minutes later Troy Guillotte, executive producer of TAG Entertainment, was hoisting a 17-pound tripletail.
Capt. Ronnie Daniels of Fisher-Man Guide Service is no stranger to tripletail fishing. He offers trips exclusive to chasing tripletail or as an add-on to close out a day of smashing trout and redfish.
"Tripletail are a fish that a lot of people are scared to tackle because they don't know much about it," Daniels explained. "It's really a fish that almost anybody can catch."
There's two ways the captain catches tripletail: blind casting to structure and sight fishing. Sight fishing is by far his favorite method and the method he prefers for his clients.
Capt. Ronnie looks for any type of floating debris but primarily targets crab trap pots because of their consistent location.
"This year we caught one under half of a watermelon, one under a latex glove; I've seen them under various little floating objects," he explained.
"We generally like to run crab trap lines because we're fairly certain that structure is going to be there because it was there yesterday. It might not be there tomorrow, but the majority of the time they're going to stay there for a while."
Crabbers typically put out a line of pots in a straight line ranging from 25 to 50 pots, with another line of pots that run horizontal about 25-yards apart.
Fishermen can cover a lot of water by cruising a crab pot line on plane looking for tripletail hanging near the float.
"The key to doing this is running at a speed that you feel comfortable that you'll be able to see the fish if he's there," Daniels said. "You want to stay just far enough off of them to where the splash created by your boat is not going to land on top of the fish because that will generally spook them. The wake that you create, 9 times out of 10, won't."
When a tripletail is spotted the captain presents a live shrimp under a cork. A cork with a slim profile is preferred to prevent spooking the fish.
"I prefer the Boat Monkey cigar-shaped cork," he said. "The reason that I prefer that cork is that it doesn't make a lot of commotion in the water. If you have a concave style cork or an oval style cork that's going to make a splash, a lot of times they'll eat the cork and you're going to miss that fish. With that cigar-shaped cork you can usually slide it right by him and keep the shrimp up high to present the shrimp to him.
"Leader depths can be anywhere from 6 to 8 inches up to about 12 to 14 inches. I don't like anything much longer than that because you want to keep the shrimp up high enough for the fish to spot him."
When the captain spots a fish he comes off plane and idles back to within a long cast to the pot then uses the trolling motor to get into position.
"I like to approach from the side and down current of whatever he's on, that way I can throw up-current and let it swing right by the edge of the structure that he's on," Daniels said. "That way you give yourself the best possibility of him seeing the bait."
Standard trout or redfish tackle works just fine for chasing tripletail. Daniels uses the same rod and reel combo for tripletail as he uses for trout and redfish with a slightly larger leader.
"I always use 30-pound braid on my reels with a 30 pound leader," Daniels explained. "I'm using a 3000 class Penn Battle spinning reel on a 7-foot medium action Speedeaux rod. That will go to a size-6 treble hook; hook the shrimp right under the horn."
We had a few minutes of riding and looking after Troy's massive tripletail. We were on our way in when we spotted another one laying on its side behind a crab pot.
Daniels brought the Sportsman 247 off plane, maneuvered the boat into position and calmly rigged a live shrimp under a cork. The first cast hauled water but the second cast caught the lounging fish's eye.
The fish turned on the shrimp, taking the cork down in a flash.
After a harrowing game of tug of war on light tackle, Thomas Davis of Ocean Springs was holding his first tripletail!
Tripletail will be around for another month or so. Do yourself a favor and go for a crab pot cruise or take the sure-fire route and call Capt. Ronnie.
Capt. Ronnie Daniels can be reached by calling 228-323-1115 or by visiting his website, msfisherman.com.