Anglers can catch plenty of good-sized speckled trout, redfish and an occasional flounder on Mississippi's Gulf Coast after the bowl games have ended. To learn where to find them and how to catch them, we talked with Capt. Kyle Jarreau of Shore Thing Charters, who guides in the Biloxi Marsh out of Bay St. Louis.

This month, depending on the weather, fishermen generally find speckled trout and redfish in the deeper holes in the marsh, especially on colder days.

"I'll be fishing in Bayou Biloxi quite a bit this month," Jarreau said. "As long as the temperature's cool, the speckled trout and the redfish prefer to hold in deep holes from 8- to 22-feet deep there, especially in the mornings."

Jarreau searches for deep holes close to shallow-water flats, because as the day warms in January, the fish will move out of those deep holes and start feeding out on the flats.

"If we've had a week of warm weather, I'll fish the flats," he said. "We also can have unpredictable weather conditions at this time of year. So, generally, the specks and the reds like to hold in or near places where they can move to and from deep to shallow water, depending on the temperature and the bait movement."

Jarreau usually targets speckled trout in January, but also catches a few redfish.

"I prefer to cast and retrieve soft-plastic lures on 1/4- or 1/8-ounce jigheads," he said. "If the temperature's pretty cold, I'll hop these jigs along the bottom because the specks and the reds will be fairly lethargic at this time of year. I like to fish H&H Cocahoes in either electric chicken, firecracker (red, white and blue flake in a clear plastic) or mauler shrimp colors.

"I'll be using 12-pound-test line with a 1/8- or 1/4-ounce jighead, depending on how fast the tide's moving. Sometimes the fish prefer the jig to be swimming almost dead on the bottom. At other times, the fish will bite better if you hop the jig off the bottom. In those deep holes, we expect to catch 14- to 18-inch-long trout, with some of the bigger fish weighing about 2 pounds each."

 

Catching fish on warm days

If the Mississippi Gulf Coast gets one of those freaky warm fronts in January as may happen, Jarreau and his clients often can catch trout in water as shallow as 2- to 5-feet deep. With good water movement and the bait near the surface, Jarreau prefers to fish topwater lures, like the Storm Chug Bug or the Rapala Skitter Walk.

"We have a lot of shallow water along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and in the marsh," he said. "Since the shallow water heats up faster than the deep water, when this area gets those warm fronts, the bait, the trout and the redfish often will move up into that skinny water to feed. Under those conditions, the fish will eat topwater baits.

"If the weather's good in January and we can get across Lake Borgne and up in the bayous and the little ponds in the marsh, we can have a great day of fishing. The redfish will be concentrated in these regions, especially in the ponds in the marsh. However, I still prefer to fish the management area in Bayou Biloxi with its many big bayous and deep water. Also, the water's protected in this region, so even if we have a lot of wind and/or rain, we still can fish."

On a falling tide, Jarreau enjoys success while fishing the mouths of bays and bayous and any other little run-outs from the marsh. On a clear January day with no wind and plenty of sunshine, Jarreau heads for the Nine Mile area. But he'll catch his biggest trout deep in the marsh.

"On a really good day, we may be able to find 20-inch speckled trout," he said. "The redfish, which are plentiful, will be found in the ponds, the drains and the ditches. Even though most of the flounder have pulled out of the marsh by January, we generally still will catch a few of them - usually when we're fishing for redfish.

"On a good day this month, I expect a party of two to catch 30 to 40 trout, a limit of redfish and maybe one to three flounder. You can catch and keep five redfish and 25 speckled trout per person. You also can pick up a few flounder and some sheepshead and black drum. So, you can put together a mixed bag and have a good cooler of fish to take home and eat."

 

What may happen in the marsh

Jarreau also mentions that if you're not fishing with a guide, you need to pay special attention to the water movement where you're fishing.

"Running aground is really easy in January since we're fishing on a winter tide, and the water can drop out of the marsh quickly, leaving you stranded," he said. "Last month, I went to a spot, caught some speckled trout and planned to return to fish there the next day. But the next morning, the water level had dropped 2 feet. By the following day, it had dropped another 2 1/2 feet. If a cold front comes through, it can push more water out of the marsh more quickly than a regular tide. So pay attention to the tide and how fast the water's moving out of the marsh.

"You may be chasing redfish in the marsh for about 1 1/2 hours and then realize there's 1 1/2 feet less water in the marsh than when you entered. You'll be landlocked and stuck.

"A lot of broken marsh and mud lumps have been moved around since Hurricane Katrina in 2004, leaving new mudflats and dry places. So if you go into the marsh alone, pay attention to the water's movement."

To contact Capt. Kyle Jarreau, call (228) 342-2206, or visit www.shorethingcharters.com.