Tommy Sutton of Columbia is about as avid a deer hunter as you will ever find, except for those fall and winter days when T-shirts are more comfortable than insulated camo.
That’s why, this past weekend, when temperatures pushed north of 70 degrees with unseasonably mild winds, Sutton headed south to his fishing camp on the Gulf Coast instead of north to his Delta deer club inside the levee near Greenville. He extended an invitation.
“Let’s go see if the redfish are enjoying this weather,” said Sutton, who this year got hooked on the marsh to the point of buying a new 22-foot Blazer Bay. “The tide’s not great but everything else is, let’s go explore the Biloxi Marsh.”
New to the sport, Sutton was excited about learning the area and chose a spot he had heard about from a friend. It was one of the closest areas of the marsh, about three miles south of Bay St. Louis, and about a 30 minute run.
Three Mile Pass, and its surrounding marsh, is Sutton’s new favorite fishing hole.
On our second casts, I hooked up with a 28-inch red.
Two casts later, I hooked with a 26-incher.
Two hours later, we needed one more slot fish to fill our 10-fish limit and were still covered up in redfish all too big to keep.
“I have never seen this many redfish in one place at one time,” said Sutton, peering in the extremely clear water and seeing about 50 bull reds in a small cove, nearly identical to the one he just danced around the boat four times with for 30 minutes. “But I’ve got to tell you, I don’t know if I want to catch any more like this one. It about wore me out.”
The 38-inch, 30-pound red was the last one of the day, bringing our total catch to 20 fish. We could keep only nine, since all fish under 16 inches and all fish over 28 inches have to be released, and we didn’t have one under 24 inches.
All were caught on Redfish Magic Spinnerbaits and on a red/gray Pete Ponds Signature Swim Jig with a chartreuse/pink cocahoe minnow grub, using medium-heavy baitcast and spinning gear with either 10-pound braid or 12-pound mono.
The key to the action was finding small coves that had two ingredients — drains running on a falling tide and some kind of shell factor (either a bank or bar).
Two coves in a row were holding huge schools of reds seeking food, usually minnows of some kind. At one time in one cove, we could see six tails breaking the surface as the fish fed.
It was crazy, and it was proof that there is a simple alternative to those warm days when sitting in a deer stand just won’t do.