About five minutes into our run, I thanked Tommy Barrett for launching at Pass Christian rather than Gulfport. Rather than running due south to get to our destination, we were running southeast, which meant we had a front-row seat for one of the most spectacular sunrises I had ever seen.

Standing immediately to Barrett's right, Mark Selzer, Barrett's frequent fishing companion, who admittedly has a chronic condition involving his snooze alarm, instantaneously chimed in.

"I don't care how tired I am. When I see that," he said pointing toward the dusty, yellowing eastern skyline, "it all just goes away. I don't fully feel awake each morning I go fishing until I see the sunrise."

Barrett lives in Waveland, and he has been fishing Mississippi Sound for most of his life. As much as he loves fishing the entire area, he has found himself returning over and over to the same spot - Cat Island.

This uniquely T-shaped barrier island that the French called Isle-aux-Chats because they couldn't tell the difference between a raccoon and a cat - "cats with faces like foxes" is how Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville described them - has a storied past with the rolls it played in giving General Andrew Jackson time to raise an army to defend New Orleans and training family dogs by the U.S. Army Signal Corps to "sniff out Japanese" during World War II.

However, most folks today know it simply as a pretty place with white, sandy beaches where they can escape the trials of life on the mainland if only for a few hours. But Barrett and Selzer, both junior high-school teachers, visit Cat Island with fishing poles in hand to reclaim their minds and souls lost during the previous school year. Every fish they catch helps prepare them for the next.

"I used to fish six days a week during the summer," Barrett said as all three of us snapped on our wading belts and tied fish baskets and nets to our waists. "Now it's more like two days a week. I might be slowing down a little bit, but there's still not much I would rather do. And when Mark drags himself out of bed early enough, he gets to come with me."

Although anglers can catch fish around Cat Island in their boats, many prefer to do like Barrett and Selzer and jump in. The shallow sandbars surrounding the island sometimes make fishing troughs near the beach impossible. Wading allows anglers to quietly and efficiently work all the water from the beach out to as far as they dare wade.

Within minutes of taking our first steps, I learned that Barrett and Selzer dared wading a long way, and opposite directions, from the anchored boat. I was left wondering which one to follow as Selzer shuffled his way to the point on the northeast corner of the island and Barrett worked his way toward some dilapidated pilings near the meat of the beach that would be the top of the T from an overhead view.

While standing there wondering, I noticed a few sandy puffs rise up from the bottom in front of me. Realizing there might be a flounder or two around me, I decided to stay put and see if I couldn't fool one into biting. Barrett had told me I could pick up a flounder or two on a black/chartreuse plastic bumped on the bottom, and I just happened to have a brand-new bag of MirrOlure Soft Sardines in the perfect color.

"We catch a lot of trout by throwing topwaters," he had said earlier that morning. "I may be wrong because I get so caught up in throwing these She Dogs (a high-pitched topwater lure made by MirrOlure), but I always seem to do best on them no matter what time of day it is. A keep a few other things in my wading box just in case, though."

He snapped open his box to show me the lures he held in reserve. There were a few black/chartreuse Deadly Dudley shrimp tails, a couple white H&H Coastal Tackle Salty Grubs and a She Dog or two in different colors. The simplicity of his selection makes it easier for him to concentrate on fishing rather than constantly changing lures.

After watching both anglers slide their nets under splashing, silvery streaks and getting a few bumps of my own (I forgot about the net tied around my waist), we all made our way back to Barrett's boat. As I imagined, both anglers caught a couple trout each on their topwaters. I finally remembered I had a net with me, and landed a sandwich-sized trout.

Barrett looked down at his watch, and proclaimed that the best fishing would be at 11 a.m. His "fish watch" actually had a display that showed how good fishing should be based on a fish rating. One fish meant poor fishing, and four fish meant excellent fishing. 11 a.m. showed four fish.

Cat Island's popularity was on full display on this Monday morning. While there were no pop-up tents or partiers to be found, there were a number of boats jockeying for position all along the eastern beach.

Whether these were people who were waiting to be bailed out by the government, vacationing close to home or trying to blend recreation with their grocery shopping, the number of boats was unusually large even to Barrett, who has seen steadily increasing fishing pressure even during the middle of the week.

We passed a couple of boats, and turned toward a stretch of beach that had strips of light, sandy-colored water mixed with strips of dark-green water. Barrett pointed out that the darker water was the deeper troughs, and he thought we might be able to pull up some trout on top by fishing the edges where the light and dark water met.

As we jumped out again, I made a promise to leave my plastics in the boat and throw only topwaters this time around. The bite might not have been very fast, but it was obvious from our fist stop that the specks wanted to eat on top.

"Oh, I don't know about that," said Selzer as he removed his She Dog from the bail of his spinning reel. "I always start with the topwater, but if I don't get them to come up on it, I'll sometimes switch to the DOA shrimp under a cork. I caught some on top already, but I'm taking my DOA with me just in case. It's easier to take it with you and not need it than having to walk all the way back to the boat to get it."

Thinking about what Selzer said, I became the antithesis of Barrett and started stuffing everything from my main tackle bag into my waist box "just in case." That proved to be my undoing as I watched Barrett and Selzer catch trout again at this spot while I cut and changed baits every 10th cast or so.

After loading everything back in the boat, including a few more trout on ice, we sped off to the southern tip of the beach to discover several anglers already waist deep in the water. A few cruising bottlenose dolphin pushing through the troughs made Barrett believe some trout might be in front of them, so we found as isolated an area as we could in front of them, and got back in.

A few missed strikes later, Barrett felt we should load back up and head north to fish our first spot again. His "fish watch" was approaching 11 a.m., and he felt there was more bait back up there than there was at any other spot we fished. The wind had diminished, too, and we were excited about what we might entice to the surface.

Giant schools of mullet nearly bumped into our legs as we slid out of the boat one last time. Something was apparently targeting them for lunch as the air above them scattered periodically with leaping mullet.

"Can't be jacks," said Barrett referring to the crevalles that often slash the entire school from end to end. "That might be trout because they're only exploding out of the water in small areas. With all this bait in here, a four-fish rating, and calm water…"

I could barely hear him anymore as he quickly put a lot of distance between us. The three of us scattered again, and I was once again the Lone Ranger and the only one who wasn't scooping up shimmering streaks of speckled trout. Topwater, plastics, suspending baits - I tried them all.

Apparently, that was my problem.