I spend a lot of time perusing social media, reading Facebook posts, blogs and fishing reports to learn new things that will make me a better trout fisherman.
One thing I’ve noticed is that Jackson County doesn’t get a lot of mention.
I’ve written a couple of stories about Jackson County fishing and I’ve heard a lot of word-of-mouth reports and scuttlebutt, but that’s about it. Heck, I’ve fished the areas in Jackson County and have had a lot of success myself, so I know all the areas hold fish at some point.
I pondered whether I really wanted to write about the inshore fishing on the Pascagoula River again or just keep it to myself.
Loose lips sink ships — and give away spots.
Rather than be a tight-lipped curmudgeon, I reached out to a couple of guides who are the only fishermen to mention the east side of the state on a regular basis: Capt. Terry Snow and Capt. Alex Plowman with MS Charter and Guide Services.
Snow grew up on the coast, while Capt. Alex moved here about 20 years ago. The duo started fishing together a few years ago and figured out they could find fish quicker by trying different tactics until a pattern developed.
“Alex and I tend to get out there and fish as a team,” Snow said. “One of us will have a light(-colored) lure on; one of us will have a dark. We’ll just start fan-casting, staying on the trolling motor all the time until we figure a pattern out.”
April is a time of transition, so the duo focuses on reefs and jetties out front — and the marsh when the Pascagoula River is cooperative.
“Most of the time, you’re looking at 6- to 10-foot of water until the sun comes up; then they’ll move in there in the shallows,” Snow said. “Mostly just stuff out front, because when they come out of the river they’re looking for a place they can stage on to feed for a few days; then they’re headed toward their summertime haunts around the islands.
“Most of the time it’s the reefs and the jetties right out there at the mouth of the (Pascagoula River) just outside the marsh.”
There’s no shortage of reefs, jetties or bars from the mouth of Graveline Bayou to the mouth of Bayou Heron on the Mississippi/Alabama state line.
To find these fish-holding magnets make Google Maps your friend, along with using the list of inshore reefs that can be found on the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources website at www.dmr.state.ms.us.
If the river is right — meaning it’s not muddy — don’t hesitate to knock around the marsh. Snow believes redfish never leave the marsh except under extreme freshwater conditions, and that flounder start moving in by then.
“The only thing I do is, when I’m traveling back and forth across I-10 or Highway 90, I look out there at the water and if it looks like it’s brown I either head out front to Graveline (Bayou) or I head to Bayou Cumbest,” Snow said. “When it (Pascagoula River) starts to look like it’s clearing up, I’ll come back over this way and fish.”
When Snow and Plowman hit the marsh, they’re looking for cuts off the river and main bayous, along with channel ledges.
On a recent guide trip, Snow had some guys on the boat who wanted redfish. So they hit the marsh.
“When we moved up into the marsh, I had them (rigged) with a Vudu Shrimp underneath a popping cork because in there you’re on the trolling motor, hitting the mouths of guts and edges that are right up against the bank that rolls off into the deeper water, throwing that cork up there and just popping right along that ledge,” Snow said. “That’s usually where they’re going to stage at.
“They’re going to stage right there at the edge of that deeper water ….”
Flounder will be in the same areas as redfish and trout, and they will hit the same baits. But flounder have a distinct strike that a seasoned angler can detect.
“Flounder start moving in that time of year (April),” Snow said. “When the water temperature gets up to about 75 degrees you’ll start seeing flounder move back in and people start catching them pretty regular.
“Flounder have a very distinct bite. Most of the time it feels like somebody reaches out there and just thumps your line. I’ll do a 3 to 5 count, reel down to them and then try to tear their head off when I set the hook, because they have a real tough mouth and if you don’t sink that barb up and get it past that barb when they come to the top 90 percent of the time they’re going to throw the hook.”
Whether Snow and Plowman are fishing out front or the inside marsh, they try to keep it simple. When they’re fishing by themselves, they use artificial lures so they can cover water and find fish.
When they have customers on the boat they typically slow it down a bit and use live bait.
“We use Matrix Shad, Vortex Shad, Saltwater Assassin and Norton Sand Eel Juniors,” Snow said. “They’re (Norton Sand Eel Jr.) a real good bait, and they don’t have a lot of wind resistance because they don’t have a paddle tail back there fluttering around slowing them down, they throw like a bullet. I use them a lot.
“We use a Redfish Magic-type lure (saltwater spinnerbait) a lot of the time, especially if the water is a little muddy or a little tinged with mud.”
Snow said he prefers a light weight when possible.
“Ninety percent of the time I’m using a ¼-ounce jighead,” Snow said. “If I’m out on a flat, where I’m not getting a lot of current, I’m using a ¼-ounce jighead.
“If I’m out in the river fishing 20 foot of water, sometimes you have to put on a 3/8- or ½-ounce (jighead), but most of the time I’m throwing a ¼-ounce jighead.
“I don’t use colored jigheads; it’s just the natural-colored lead jighead.”
There is a lot of unique area to fish around the mouth of the Pascagoula River. Shallow oyster reefs at the mouth of West River, man-made reefs around Singing River Island at the mouth of East River, deep industrial areas to the east at Bayou Casotte, and winding bayous farther to the east in Bayou Cumbest and Bayou Heron.
Regardless of where you chose to fish, however, the advice Snow shared will work.
Stick and move, fan-casting with a partner until you find the fish, and then park the boat and start catching them.
The waters in southern Jackson County are beautiful and offer a plethora of wildlife that keep every trip interesting. So interesting I almost wish I hadn’t brought it up.
Editor’s note: To book a trip with Capt. Terry or Capt. Alex go to msguideservices.wix.com/gofish.