“Our inshore artificial reefs have been complete game changers.”
That’s what my longtime friend and veteran fishing guide, Sonny Schinder — whose Shore Thing Fishing Charters is based in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi — told me recently of the inshore/nearshore artificial-reef structure that the state began placing in Mississippi coastal waters in 2007. So I decided to check it out, enlisting help in that endeavor from some of my kinfolk to join or meet me there for a couple days this August with Capt. Sonny on his new Avenger 26 bay boat.
It didn’t take long to see the validity of Schindler’s comment — and more information on these reefs and how to fish them will be forthcoming in a revealing Sport Fishing magazine feature in an issue next year. But for now, enjoy a look at some of the action, particularly with black drum running rampant, in this little gallery.
Light-tackle beast: A big black drum about to be released by Capt. Sonny Schindler gave angler Rachel Olander a very tough fight on light braided line.
Just about as quickly as she could cast out a chunk of crab, Rachel is hooked up again. The bit of rubble visible in the background is in fact a tiny part of a large submerged section of the old Interstate 10 Jourdan River Bridge.
I theen’ we’re going to need a bigger net…. Sonny manages to get the front of another oversize black drum into the landing net.
Grassy shallows nearby also offered action, with Sonny here netting a typical seatrout.
Leaping lady: Jackie Olander watches a good-sized ladyfish doing what ladyfish do when they feel a hook.
A big black drum is a lot to handle on light spinning gear, even for experienced anglers. Here, Autumn Lampinen assists son Quinn in gaining line before the big fish can make the nearby bridge abutment.
The green oval marks black drum galore, at least when we fished around the abutments of the highway 90 bridge across Bay Saint Louis, MIssissippi.
Yet another big black drum near the HIghway 90 bridge that crosses Bay Saint Louis, as Rachel helps nephew Dashel in the tricky, exciting end game at the boat.
A bit of shock and awe for Quinn Olander as he gazes at the largest fish he’s seen close up, held by an amused Sonny Schindler.
Tripletail also get in the act here; Sonny’s caught many monster tripletail. He elected to put a spaghetti tag into this small one before releasing it, all of which Quinn found fascinating.
The shallow waters of MIssissippi Sound seemed to be chock full of small mullet. Sonny decided to put a few in the live well with a couple well-placed castnet throws.
In Sonny’s baitwell, besides shrimp, crabs and mullet, were these guys: killifish, ubiquitious and hardy little fishes of shalow waters known in the northern Gulf as cockahoe minnows.
Artificial-reef structure in MIssissippi waters nearly always holds sheepshead, and in spring, limits of the terrifically tasty fish are almost a given.
A drum of a different color — angler Pammy-Lou Pease of Melrose, Florida, admires her first redfish of the trip. At times reds may outnumber blacks, and bulls can patrol structure areas.
Back to the blacks: Closeup of a big bearded bad boy by the bridge.
Reaching out: Sonny leans out to ease into the net another black drum.
For More Information:
Fishing: Shore Thing Charters
Accommodations: Vacation Rentals by PRM
General Information: Visit Mississippi