Mississippi’s coastal fishermen, especially guides, look forward to October, because as the temperature cools, the cost of reaching a jackpot catch goes down.
“Fish are transitioning back through the Mississippi Sound to the coastline and bays from the Gulf, and they start stacking up on the bridges across the bays,” said Kenny Shiyou of Shore Thing Charters. “The cooler it gets, the better it gets. It starts in October and ends in March or early April.”
Shiyou and many coastal guides have discovered the big number of fish that stack up on the bridge pilings across coastal rivers and bays: Bay St. Louis, Biloxi Bay and Pascagoula River.
“Instead of running 15 or 20 miles to get to fish, we can launch within a mile or two of some of the best fishing on the coast,” Shiyou said. “Redfish, black (aka puppy) drum and sheepshead all get on the pilings and hang tight to ambush bait passing the structures on the tides. At Bay St. Louis, the new bridge built after Katrina has these big square bases that make presentation easy. We anchor a few yards away from a piling, and we use spinning gear mostly to pitch a shrimp (usually dead bait shimp) up on the flat top of the piling.
“With an open bail on the reel, we slide the bait over the edge of the face of the piling and let it free fall against the piling. You have to be against the piling, but if there is a fish there — there’s a pretty good chance there will be — it will hit the shrimp.”
A two- or three-hour morning trip can produce a box full of fish, all of which make for great table fare.
“Anybody who turns his or her nose up at a puppy drum or a sheepshead needs to rethink their diets,” Shiyou said. “They are excellent and often served at some of the best restaurants in New Orleans as their feature fish of the day. The puppy drum is the first cousin to a redfish. Sheepshead are just ugly; maybe that’s why people don’t like to eat them.
“I’ll tell you this, on light tackle against those pilings, they are a lot of fun to catch.”
OK, so it’s not that easy, is it?
“Well, we fish a lot; at least one of us is out there every day when weather allows and we can pinpoint the hot spots among the pilings,” Shiyou said. “We can keep up with the pilings that are producing.”