Let tide charts lead you to the trout

Trout get thick in narrow bayous and can be easier to pattern during November.
Trout get thick in narrow bayous and can be easier to pattern during November.

Here we are, folks. We made it to November.

Magic 93.7 is playing Christmas music, cool days and cold nights are here, Thanksgiving is right around the corner and Christmas is on the horizon.

November is a veritable fat man’s paradise.

For us trout fisherman, however, that’s not even the best part.

Over the last seven years, the surface temp in Biloxi Bay has averaged 65 degrees, with the salinity floating around 10 parts per thousand. For the speckled trout lay person, that data represents optimum conditions for catching trout in our bayous and rivers.

Capt. Bill Hancock with Reel Outlaw Charters based out of D’Iberville puts some incredible boxes of trout together in short order during November.

I reached out to him to get a feel for how he approaches one of my favorite times to fish.

“Generally, by November the tides have swapped around to where we have the high tides in the morning around 6 to 8 o’clock,” Hancock said. “Get there at daybreak or slightly before so you’re there at the last of the high tide; you’re looking for a falling tide.

“We all know (trout) feed that last hour before dawn and the first hour after dawn.”

MS Sportsman tide tables can be found at MS-Sportsman.com/tidal-ranges-and-predictions.

What to look for

During November, trout have moved well into the bayous and rivers and become more predictable. Focus on areas that funnel baitfish into a narrow area or points and bends that create noticeable tide lines.

“I’m going to be fishing the shoreline, and I’m going to be looking for a place where there’s some drains or some water movement,” Hancock explained. “White shrimp coming out (of the marsh) is about over in November, so they’re back on finfish.

“I start off with a soft plastic. I really like the ¼-ounce jig. I use an 1/8-ounce (jigheads), but I like the ¼-ounce more. I can pinpoint cast, I can put it on those points and cuts exactly where I want it at a longer distance without having to get up so close to it.

“They’re back on mullet, so I’m going to be using something like a (Matrix Shad) shrimp creole or lemon head that mimics what they’re feeding on.

“That’s going to be for the first hour or so; maybe up until 9 a.m. Usually by then they just sort of quit.

“Then I’ll try to zero in on some specific spots like right at the mouth of a drain. I’ve found that instead of fishing right against the shoreline I’ll move to the middle of the drain. It’s like they’ve moved away from the shoreline into a little deeper water. Maybe they’re full or maybe they’re looking for some cooler water.”

Best baits

Trout keying in on finfish opens the door to use one of my favorite hard baits: the MirrOlure MirrOdine (MR17).

“If I find that they get off that soft plastic, I like to go to a MR17,” the captain said. “The reason I like it is that it travels about 6 inches under the water. You don’t have to worry about picking up grass or rocks, debris or sticks or anything, and it’s going to mimic that finfish that they’re looking for.

“I like the black back with the orange under his chin; I really like that one. If the pogies are there, I’ll go to the chartreuse; they really like that chartreuse top and chartreuse bottom.”

The color code for the black back with an orange belly MR17 is 808, while the color code for the chartreuse back, chartreuse belly MR17 is CH. MirrOlure has an interesting color scheme chart, but the codes reach across all baits.

Hancock uses the same basic rod and reel combo for soft plastics and hard baits.

“My typical setup is a medium-light, fast-action rod (and) baitcast reel spooled with PowerPro braid,” Hancock said. “I really like to use a fluorocarbon leader; I think it gives me an edge.

“By that time of the year most of the rain has stopped, in October and November it’s been dry, the leaves have changed and the water is a little clearer.”

This fat redfish crushed a shrimp creole Matrix Shad fished off the ledge of a small drain.
This fat redfish crushed a shrimp creole Matrix Shad fished off the ledge of a small drain.

Do your homework

Capt. Bill Hancock makes November trout sound easy. Some days it is, but you can be certain he puts in the time to learn the areas he fishes and watches the prevailing conditions around the days he has trips.

Take some time a few days before you go fishing and check the Mississippi Sportsman tide tables and plan your trip around the optimum tide changes Bill speaks about.

Watch surface temperature and salinity in your area by monitoring the U.S. Geological Survey site at waterdata.usgs.gov/ms/nwis/current/?type=flow.

Keep your eyes on the weather, wind direction and wind speed to determine if that will affect the tides. A great site for monitoring wind and wind forecasts is www.windalert.com.

The tips Capt. Bill shared, along with a little homework, will make your trips a lot more successful. Hey, I’ve followed his lead and it helped me tremendously.

If it helps this ol’ fellow, I know it’ll help you.

Editor’s note: Capt. Bill Hancock can be reached by calling 601-807-5811 or at reeloutlawcharters.com

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