Mississippi Gulf Coast Kayak Fishing Adventure

See these anglers land shark, redfish, trout and flounder while kayaking the meandering estuaries of the Mississipi Gulf Coast.

In October, a group of kayak-fishing enthusiasts descended upon Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi, for a Hobie/Sport Fishing kayak adventure with Shore Thing Charters. We pedaled our way to shallow-water redfish, trout, bull sharks and more. With assistance in planning from Mississippi Tourism, six of us met up at the Hollywood Casino and Resort in Bay Saint Louis and after having way too much at a late dinner, caught up with captains Sonny Schindler and Matt Tusa early the next morning at the Long Beach Harbor Yacht Club (marina). From there it was about a seven-mile run southeast across the Mississippi Sound to Cat Island, the largest westernmost island off Mississippi, to a big private home owned by Dr. Don Gaddy of Gulfport (who, being an enthusiastic angler himself, joined us part of the time). Once there we got to work unpacking a ton of gear pre-shipped: Okuma reels/rods, Yo-Zuri lures, Plano waterproof tackle boxes, Eagle Claw hooks and pliers, then loading up six Hobie kayaks - three Outbacks and three Pro-Anglers - in two bay boats. And then...we went fishing! (Note: To read more details about this trip, watch for the full feature in SF's kayak-fishing issue, this April) Photographer
Jason Arnold is an award winning Florida-based photographer who has captivated audiences of all generations. Being a third generation commercial fisherman, he learned to respect marine wildlife at a very young age. His passion for the sea continued as he spent his formative years as a professional surfer. Through his photography, Jason captures the life and essence of the marine world through his one-of-a-kind fish portraits.
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The redfish and other inshore game species notwithstanding, the surprisingly abundant bull sharks made a pretty tempting target for many anglers. Here, John Bretza eyes one big bull cruising water barely deeper than a man's ankles along the beach at the northeast end of Cat Island. (For a better look at the beast, vanquished on light spinning gear, see photo #11.)Jason Arnold
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Locked and loaded: Capt. Matt Tusa watches the dock at the Cat Island house, waiting for his third angler so he can "mother skiff" the group to and three kayaks to the day's first fishing spot.Jason Arnold
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Taking advantage of the Pro Angler's ability to sneak into shallow edges, Bretza casts to a waking redfish. Shore Thing Charters' fishing grounds include Louisiana's famed Biloxi Marsh, location of this shot. The marsh starts just a bit to the west of Cat Island.Jason Arnold
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How sweet it is for George Large, not only bringing in his first redfish of the trip but doing so while fishing Yo-Zuri's new Crystal 3D Shrimp.Jason Arnold
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While long moves generally called for hauling three kayaks aboard each bay boat, short moves could go slowly enough to tow them. Here, Capt. Sonny Schindler confers about the move with Tusa.Jason Arnold
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The overland route: Mike Nussman, president of the American Sportfishing Association, fastens down two Outbacks as he prepares to join Dr. Don Gaddy; the two will use the ATV to access a remote bay across the island. (Only Gaddy can drive across the island, as one of a few bona fide landowners.)Jason Arnold
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As Schindler waits aboard the bay boat for his kayak anglers, one of them - Sport Fishing's Clint Jones - works the shallows in Little Bay that cleaves deep into Cat Island.Jason Arnold
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Gaddy tries out a Hobie Outback, here about to release a flounder. (By day's end he declared his intention to buy a couple Outbacks for his own use around Cat Island.)Jason Arnold
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Reds and bull sharks both went after live or cut bait such as mullet, ladyfish or sand trout. Here Bretza takes advantage of the Pro Angler's stand-up stability.Jason Arnold
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In the day's waning light, Bretza hops out of the kayak at the beach where the shark grabbed a mullet just 30 feet from the water's edge.Jason Arnold
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Down a bit along the same beach, SF's Doug Olander makes a cast to where, just before, Large had lost alongside his kayak a trout he said had to go well over 7 or 8 pounds.Jason Arnold
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Olander had to hastily switch rods when the line he had out, pulling a live bait, started singing. The circle hook had bit into one of the larger bull sharks of the trip. Clearly he's being pulled along a good clip!Jason Arnold
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NFL Hall of Famer Jackie Smith now focuses on quieter pursuits, as an ambassador for Hobie kayaks. Here, he's about to release a small red.Jason Arnold
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Alone in a large, quiet, shallow bay, Olander hooked this bull shark and held onto it until photographer Jason Arnold arrived to get a few photos.Jason Arnold
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Speaking of whom - a photo of the photographer. During down moments, Arnold proved his competence as an angler, catching one of the larger reds of the trip.Jason Arnold
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All good things... In fact, by the next day this tranquil scene of our last evening off Cat Island was replaced with whitecaps thanks to 20- to 25-knot northerlies thanks to a strong high-pressure system.Jason Arnold