Scott Sullivan of Gulfport is captain of a 30-foot boat for the Mexican Gulf Fishing Company in Pass Christian. On the back of his boat, he has three, 300-horsepower Yamaha engines, and he can blister the wind running out to blue water from Point Cadet in Biloxi.
“This month, we prefer to fish for wahoo and tuna, primarily big yellowfins,” Sullivan said. “Because some of our waters are still closed at this time, we’ll be fishing some of the rigs south of Southwest Pass, primarily the Lump and the Canyon rigs.
“The wahoo came in strong in November, and as the weather cools down, the wahoo bite only will get better.”
Most of the wahoo are being caught in 250- to 450-foot-deep water. During November, the average wahoo weighed 30 to 40 pounds each. But in December, you also should catch 50-pound-plus wahoo. Zoom Shakey baits, the Mann’s Stretch 30+, the Bomber Certified Depth Series Saltwater CD30 crankbait and the MirrOlure 111MR are some of Sullivan’s favorite baits. The lures with red heads seem to be some of the best producers.
“The best color baits are any baits with white bodies and red heads, and the old standby of pink with blue and chrome still produces,” Sullivan said.
Although wahoo fishing is hit or miss, on a good trip, Sullivan and his party will catch 50 percent of the wahoo that attack their baits. On a bad trip, he will land only about 20 percent of his strikes. On a good day, his customers may catch 10 wahoo, and on a bad one, it may be one wahoo or none.
“You have to go out and locate the wahoo first,” Sullivan said. “Then once you determine where the wahoo are holding, you consistently can catch them for three or four days. The real secret to wahoo fishing is to fish on the full moon. The wahoo bite really turns on a few days before and a few days after the full moon. You can fish for wahoo on the way out to where you’ll find the tuna.”
Three or four years ago, tuna fishing on the Lump wasn’t very productive. But last year, the tuna showed up, and anglers started catching them. Sullivan hopes the yellowfin will show up at the Lump this year, because right now, many of the deep-water rigs are closed.
“Right now, we can’t fish any of the deep-water rigs on the east side of the Mississippi River,” Sullivan said. “However, the Cognac and the Lena rigs still are open, as well as Noble Amos Runner. Also, Mars, Irsa, Medusa and all the rigs to the west are open. All these rigs are in 1,000-foot or deeper water and historically have held blackfin and yellowfin tuna.”
Sullivan expects Cognac and Lena to be two of the better rigs for tuna this year. Although the yellowfin tuna is the glamour fish, the blackfin probably will be more plentiful, and they’re also a good-eating fish.
December is also a great month for grouper.
“We’ll be catching scamp grouper, gag grouper and many of the deep-water grouper in December,” Sullivan said. “The grouper tend to get really fired up in the wintertime.”
Sullivan will be looking for the grouper in waters 250-foot-deep or deeper. Rock piles and ledges, some out as far as the Desoto Canyon, will be where you’ll find these grouper.
Sullivan prefers to fish with a Shimano butterfly jig. You can fish these jigs on the bottom or vertically jig these baits a little higher in the water. If you’re fishing live bait or cut bait for grouper, you also will have a good chance of catching triggerfish and red snapper. Even though red snapper season won’t be open this month, you still can catch and release some big red snapper.
“Mangrove snapper are some of my favorite snapper to catch,” Sullivan said. “They hold on many of the rigs, and you can chum them out on these rigs or fish for them with light tackle. You can catch and keep 10 mangrove snapper per person. They’re just as tasty as red snapper, and out on the rigs, they often will weigh from 3 to 8 pounds each.
“We generally catch our mangrove snapper in relatively shallow water — usually 40 to 150 feet. Remember that because the Gulf of Mexico has been closed due to the BP oil spill, and because we had a special fall weekend red snapper season, those mangrove snapper will have received very little fishing pressure. So, there should be plenty of them, and they should be larger this month than we’ve ever seen them previously.”
This fall has been great for amberjack. Not only are there plenty, but they’re some of the biggest we’ve ever seen.
To reach Capt. Scott Sullivan, call 228-324-4111.