Bayou Cumbest in the southeastern corner of Mississippi is tidally influenced and stretches about 20 miles from Orange Grove to Point Aux Chenes Bay. The Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies described it as an abandoned fluvial course of the modern Pascagoula River system. Associated with the Bayou is one of the largest relatively undisturbed areas of marsh-wetlands in Mississippi and Alabama, a popular place to catch redfish, speckled trout, flounder and other species.
The past several years, my son, Travis, and I fished for redfish, speckled trout, and flounder in many places along Mississippi’s coast, including the Pascagoula River and many of its tributaries, waters adjacent to Deer Island, Biloxi Bay, and Bayou Cumbest and nearby marshes. Our favorite place to catch legal-sized redfish, by far, is Bayou Cumbest and nearby marshes; we caught our limits of three fish each, ranging from 18 to 26 inches long, except for one 38-pound fish caught in the bayou on a purple Paul Brown Soft-Dine. We checked the stomach of many of the redfish and found they often fed on crabs and/or mullet.
When there is a neap tide — the least change between high and low tides — we don’t fish. We like shallow, moving water, a tidal range from a foot to more than 2 feet, prefer an outgoing tide, but catch fish on an incoming tide. However, when the high tide pushes water back into the smooth cordgrass marsh, fishing is less productive.
We launch at Point-of-Pines; the cost is $5. Some free ramps are in the area; however, we haven’t used them. Fishing is usually good in Bayou Cumbest south of the Point-of-Pines ramps. Starting at daylight, we use a trolling motor and fish for redfish and speckled trout. We usually catch fish on “walk-the-dog” lures like a Heddon Super Spook Jr. or MirrOlure SheDog, which produce explosive strikes, and Matrix Shad.
Later, we fish shallow, nearby marshes where we often catch more redfish than in the bayou. Long casts are required to keep from spooking fish. We cast directly to where the water meets the smooth, cordgrass marsh. Our preferred baits are swim baits 3 to 4 1/2 inches long, including Matrix Shad and baits made by Berkley, Strike King, Storm and Z-Man. Lure colors that mimic a crab or mullet entice redfish strikes. We prefer Shimano bait casting outfits, 7 foot rods, 30-pound Power Pro braid and a 25-pound fluorocarbon leader 12 to 18 inches long.
Looking forward to spring
Year-round, Bayou Cumbest and the nearby marshes are great places to catch legal-size redfish in shallow water. We have found that catching limits was easier from spring through fall. In the winter, crabs and mullet, their two primary prey species, may be less abundant. Crabs likely bury in the mud; some mullet may leave the area to spawn offshore. Redfish may also leave the shallows because the water is just too cold.
We suggest using “walk-the-dog” lures early. When using swimbaits, fish them in crab or mullet colors and add a little chartreuse color to the tails. Long casts with long rods will help keep the fish from spooking. When the shallow water is really clear, don’t use lures with shiny spinner blades. If you are not catching redfish, look for mullet; when you find them, cast.
Pay attention to regulations: three redfish are allowed per angler; they have to be at least 18 inches long and only one can be longer than 30 inches. Learn where the Mississippi-Alabama border is and don’t fish east of that line without an Alabama license.
– Jerry and Travis Brashier