According to Capt. Lenny Maiolatesi of the Fighting Chicken, docked at Harbor Landing Marina in Ocean Springs, "April means wahoo, and we use a three-pronged attack to fish offshore then. In April, the fish seem to scatter and we usually find them between the Midnight Lump and the floating oil rigs. Generally in April there's big wahoo and lots of them to be caught. The biggest wahoo we ever caught on the 'Fighting Chicken' weighed 92 pounds."

Maiolatesi's customers primarily pull Mann's Stretch 30+ crankbaits and shaky baits for wahoos in water 180-feet from the surface all the way down to 1000-feet from the surface. They pull their wahoo baits over the tops of rocky structure.

"However, we tend to get more blackfin tuna and yellowfin tuna when we're dragging for wahoo than we do wahoo when we're fishing this way," Maiolatesi explains. "Once we get out to the floating rigs, we reel-in the shaky baits to start fishing live bait like hardtails on kites that keep those hardtails splashing on the water's surface.

"That action wakes-up the yellowfin tuna and will bring the fish up to the surface to take the bait."

Maiolatesi says you usually can see every tuna that takes your bait, because most often they'll come-up and out of the water when they strike. The "Fighting Chicken's" average tuna caught in April will weigh 60-80 pounds, but now and then anglers will catch 150-pound tuna.

Maiolatesi enjoys catching those 60- to 80-pound tuna more than the bigger ones, because as he reports, "They come to the boat fairly quickly, giving us a better chance to have more anglers catch more tuna. If we catch 10 or 12 in a day, we've had a really-good day. On an average trip, we'll generally also catch a few blackfins, which are primarily night feeders that we take around the rigs. But when fishing during the day, we're usually fishing for yellowfins. We had a crew several weeks ago that brought-in four wahoos, 20 blackfins but no yellowfins, a limit of grouper, a limit of amberjacks and a 128-pound swordfish.

"On this overnight trip, we opted to fish for swordfish after dark instead of yellowfins, since another boat came to the rig where we were fishing. So, we moved about 6-miles out to a ledge where I'd previously caught swordfish. We dropped our swordfish rigs down and hooked-up that swordfish in about 3 minutes. Then we fished there for another 3 hours but didn't get a bite.

"If you're going out to deep water, you never know what will happen, what fish will be biting, or what tackle you'll need. We've learned to take all of our tackle and be ready to fish for anything. These offshore trips last 30 hours, and our customers want to be fishing as much as possible. Most people like a combination trip where we fish for yellowfins and blackfins, wahoo, grouper or amberjacks when in season, and if possible swordfish."

Inshore action

Bobby Williams, who captains the Three Sons IV based in Biloxi at the Point Cadet Marina, reports that, "April is a transition month. We're waiting for warmer weather for the fishing to start heating-up, usually when the water temperature reaches about 65-70 degrees. That's when the cobia move in, as well as a few king mackerel and Spanish mackerel and numbers of sharks. At the first of April, we'll be fishing for white trout, ground mullet, redfish and black drum - generally close to the islands. Since our area has had a fairly-warm winter, we may see an early run of cobia. However, your best bet for cobia will be later in April."

Williams says that the first run of cobia will be around Petit Bois Island, before they move up to Horn Island.

"You never know what size cobia you'll catch when the run begins," he said. "A pod of small cobia may be running together or possibly a pod of large cobia."

But Williams explains that when the cobia show up, that's what most people want to catch. Early in April, anglers can sight-cast to the cobia in clear water.

"We like to fish on the edges and tops of the bars and catch the fish as they're coming down the bars," Williams mentions. "I particularly like to fish the sandbar on the point of Horn Island and chum for cobia and sharks in April.

"When we're chumming for cobia, we use a Chum Churn by chopping-up baitfish and adding menhaden oil and sometimes macaroni and cheese mixed-up with tuna fish and sand. Recently we've been using the Berkley Gulp! commercial chum that puts out a strong-smelling chum that you can use for about five trips before replenishing it. It also doesn't have to be refrigerated."

For cobia bait, Williams and his crew prefer fishing live saltwater catfish by freelining them in the chum slick but also use live eels, live croakers and live pogeys. Oftentimes they'll see the cobia coming to the surface behind the boat, and that's when they have their customers cast to them with live bait. Often Williams says you'll see as many as 20 boats fishing around the islands when the cobia are running.

"Sometimes these boats will be chumming like we are, which we believe actually helps bring in the cobia, sharks and bonitas," he said. "Also during April, we catch big sharks weighing more than 100 pounds and take blackfin sharks behind the shrimp boats."