Bay St. Louis specks hard to beat in summer

Speckled trout are ravenous this month off Bay St. Louis, and you can tag-team them all day with topwaters and soft-plastic swimbaits.

Catching speckled sea trout is easy. Finding them is the hard part. With Sonny Schindler of Shore Thing Fishing Charters (www.shorethingcharters.com) at the helm, we came, we saw and we conquered.

Birds are key. Gulls, terns and pelicans follow baitfish and shrimp, as do trout. When you see a flock of gulls plunge into the water, you can count on catching trout. The birds move with the bait; you have to follow them. As long as something doesn’t happen to disperse the school — such as another boat running through it — the bite can last for an hour or more.

The waters around Bay St. Louis are teeming with nice speckled trout as summer arrives. Just look for gulls diving on bait and you’ll find fish. (Photo by Bryan Hendricks)
The waters around Bay St. Louis are teeming with nice speckled trout as summer arrives. Just look for gulls diving on bait and you’ll find fish. (Photo by Bryan Hendricks)

Five of us — Schindler, my son, Matthew, along with Tommy Akin and Mike Jones of Vicksburg — caught 130 keeper trout in two mornings, as well as scores of sub-legal trout. Almost all of them hit Strike King Redfish Magic swimbaits on ½-ounce lead jigheads. Trout hit all colors, but they preferred the pumpkinseed/red flake. After that, pearl/chartreuse was best, followed by pearl/rose. We threw them on tandem rigs and often caught two at a time. The Redfish Magic is a tough, durable bait.

When trout school, you can also hit them on top with MirrOLure Top Dogs and She Dogs, plus Strike King’s Sexy Dawgs.

You must cast constantly to keep the bite going, Schindler said. He ran from angler to angler, unhooking and boxing our fish to avoid delays. Any gap in the presentation can cause fish to get disinterested and scatter, he said. As long as they’re engaged, a feeding frenzy can go indefinitely unless sharks or dolphins show up.

Of course, the bite can also go cold with no apparent provocation. One such lull lasted several hours as Schindler tried one spot after another. Finally, he found a flock of gulls diving at baitfish on the surface.

“Cast at those birds,” Schindler said. “Throw right at them! Trout’ll be under them!”

He was right. Trout struck the baits the instant they hit the water. All of us caught doubles simultaneously, and soon, we had big trout flopping all over the boat.

Casting into schools of feeding specks with a tandem rig of soft-plastic swimbaits can result in double hook-ups. (Photo by Bryan Hendricks)
Casting into schools of feeding specks with a tandem rig of soft-plastic swimbaits can result in double hook-ups. (Photo by Bryan Hendricks)

When the gulls left, so did the trout. A flock of terns dove on bait, and we cast at them, too. Instead of trout, however, we caught ladyfish.

“My experience out here is that the gulls tend to follow trout, and terns tend to follow ladyfish and things like that,” Schindler said.

Around 11 a.m., we circled another island. Gulls and terns rode at rest on the lee side. On a hunch, Schindler dropped anchor. That spot produced the “melee” that Schindler wanted, and soon, everyone in the boat had one or two trout on a line at once.

We put 60 keeper trout in the box before the day ended. They keep that kind of news quiet around Bay St. Louis, but it’s definitely worth a visit.

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