Visit the Upper Gulf Coast for Outstanding September Fishing Offshore and Inshore
Day 1: Mississippi’s Saltwater Fishing and Football Go Together Like Popcorn and a Movie in September
One of the most-difficult problems for fishermen in the fall is choosing between staying home and watching one of their favorite teams play football or going fishing. However, Captain Jay Trochesset has solved this problem for anglers fishing with him on the “Silver Dollar III,” based at Point Cadet Marina in Biloxi, Mississippi. “I’ve got a television set in the boat and an antenna for DirecTV. My fishermen can watch their favorite football teams, whether they’re college or pros, and still go saltwater fishing. I have to admit, I like to watch football too, while I’m out fishing.”
What You Can Catch in September with Trochesset:
During September, Trochesset, who has fished the Mississippi Gulf Coat for 39 years, mainly trolls for big bull redfish, jack crevalle, Spanish mackerel, king mackerel and sharks. His philosophy is, “We’ll fish for anything that bites. September is one of our more-productive fishing months of the year on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. Trolling we’ll catch a number of bull reds, jack crevalle, big Spanish mackerel, king mackerel and blacktip sharks. We can use bait for redfish, but we’ll troll for schooling bull reds. Once we pinpoint a school of redfish, we usually catch blacktip sharks from the same area.” Captain Trochesset trolls drone spoons for king and Spanish mackerel. He likes No. 4 spoons and 14 feet of 20-pound-test monofilament leader tied to a barrel swivel. He uses planers to get his spoons down in a zone where the mackerel and redfish are feeding. He also fishes flat weighted lines and outriggers.
As the “Silver Dollar III” passes-over a section of water, the captain and the deckhands put-out plenty of lures to attract fish. The average redfish Trochesset’s clients will catch will weigh 22 to 24 pounds, with the biggest last year weighing 34 pounds. “Besides the redfish, we’re catching 3-5 pound Spanish mackerel, which are really-nice-sized Spanish mackerel,” Trochesset explains. “Our king mackerel will weigh 10-25 pounds.” On an average September day, the “Silver Dollar III” will catch and release14 to15 redfish, 40 or 50 Spanish mackerel and king mackerel for a party of 12, if the boat fishes off Horn Island. “The water gets cleaner when you go east of Horn Island, where we find most of our king mackerel,” Trochesset reports. Trochesset also catches some mahi-mahi (dolphin) in September. If he sees any type of floating structure, Trochesset and his crew will reel-in their trolling lines and try to get within casting distance of that structure to catch good numbers of delicious-eating “chicken” dolphin, weighing 2-4 pounds.
Why and How to Fish for Jaws:
In recent years, a growing number of anglers have come to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to fish for sharks - one of the hardest-fighting fish in the Gulf of Mexico that will test your angling skills. “We catch a lot of blacktip sharks,” Trochesset says. “The blacktips are big and mean, but taste delicious.” These sharks generally weigh 60-120 pounds. Most often Trochesset rigs with a wire leader and dead bait and says, “We hook a lot of sharks, but they’ll bite-through regular leader, causing us to lose a lot of tackle. If our party wants to catch sharks, we use wire leader.” Trochesset chunks for sharks, a form of chumming that utilizes big chunks of pogeys and menhaden, by throwing the chunks out behind the boat to create a chum line to enable the sharks to find his bait. “To locate blacktips and other sharks, look for a school of red minnows,” Trochesset emphasizes. “Then start cutting-up fish and chumming the chunks toward the school of red minnows.”
Although Trochesset catches and releases numbers of sharks, in state waters anglers only can keep three sharks per boat and one shark per boat in other waters. At this time of the year, you’ll catch blacktips, hammerheads, fighting sharks, bull sharks, Atlantic sharpnose sharks and spinner sharks. According to Trochesset, “Our anglers really like to catch the spinner sharks, because they’ll jump and put-on shows. When a 120-pound shark goes airborne, everyone on the boat gets excited.” If a group wants to fish only for sharks, Trochesset expects to catch and release 12 to15 sharks in an 8-hour trip. “But while sitting-still and waiting to catch sharks, our fishermen can really get hot,” Trochesset mentions. “That’s why we promote trolling and then occasionally stopping to catch a shark.”
How You Can Enjoy Fishing and Football:
Because Trochesset has an air-conditioned cabin and a color TV with access to all the football games, when the sharks aren’t biting, his anglers can cool their heels and watch their teams play. No longer do you have to choose between watching football and catching fish. Now you can do both. “Sometimes we have some near fights going-on in the cabin when we have Alabama and Auburn fishermen on the same charter, and both teams are playing at the same time,” Trochesset recalls. “Those folks can really get upset about football.”
Captain Mike Moore of Strictly Business Fishing Charters explains that, “In September, we’ll be catching 20- to 25-pound king mackerel near shore trolling No. 1 to No. 3-sized drone spoons. We’ll be trolling right outside of Horn Island, using from 8- to 12-ounce leads on No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 planers. We’ll be catching kings from the surface down to 80-feet deep.” When the Southern Kingfish Association comes to Biloxi for a big tournament, the tournament anglers fishing around the shallow rigs about 30-miles offshore, between 60- to 120-feet deep, use downriggers with ribbonfish for bait and surface baits with live hardtails. “Those guys will catch king mackerel that weigh from 30- to 50-pounds each,” Moore says. “Remember, with charter-boat king mackerel fishing, there are six people wanting to catch king mackerel. However, the tournament king mackerel fisherman only wants to catch one or two big king mackerel. Tournament anglers use bigger baits to target bigger king mackerel.”
Too, this month, the redfish will start schooling and coming to the top of the water, just south of Horn, Ship and Cat islands. Generally the reds will school within the 2-mile state-water limits. “I’ve seen hundreds of big redfish in one school in September,” Moore mentions. “These redfish will run from 15- to 40-pounds each. The redfish are feeding and trying to store as much oil in their bodies as they can to last through the winter. They’re eating red minnows, menhaden and shrimp.” Moore uses two tactics to catch the redfish. He either casts to them with feathered jigs or trolls for them. To catch and release numbers of redfish, he recommends you not troll through the school but instead, troll the outer edge of the school. “When you see redfish breaking on the surface, imagine that school of redfish to be like a Christmas tree, and you only can see the top of the tree,” Moore says. “The school of redfish spreads out underwater, and there are many-more redfish underwater that you can’t see. Therefore, when I start trolling, I troll a good distance away from the school.
Using this tactic, we can catch redfish until our fishermen get tired of catching them.” Many anglers don’t know about the Christmas-tree-type stacking that a school of redfish creates when they break on the surface. So, these unknowing anglers will troll right through the center of the school, spooking and scattering the redfish, and then will have to search for another school of redfish. If you find a school early and late, you can fish with live croakers on the bottom and catch redfish. Often anglers prefer to use 30-pound-test monofilament line with light-action rods to play the redfish longer and have more sport with each fish they catch.
You also can catch numbers of tarpon as they move off Mississippi’s Gulf Coast in large schools in September. If you carry live bait and know how to fish for tarpon, you can have a great day of tarpon fishing. “I usually will try to motor my boat ahead of the oncoming tarpon, once I determine the direction in which the school of tarpon is traveling,” Moore emphasizes. “I’ll try to get to the side of the school but within casting distance. Then when the tarpon come by the boat, we can cast to them. Just like when you’re fishing for the redfish, you don’t want to have your boat in the center of the school because you’ll spook the tarpon. The tarpon on Mississippi’s Coast in September are opportunistic catches. If you see them, you can try to catch them. The tarpon come in to feed on red minnows and the menhaden that school-up at this time of year, just like the redfish and the sharks do. You can catch them all in almost the same locations.”
Moore prefers to use live mullet, live croakers or live crabs to catch the tarpon. However, when fishing for tarpon in September, you may have a difficult time getting the tarpon to take the bait before the blacktip sharks do. But hopefully, the tarpon will spot the bait before the blacktip shark does and take the bait. “During September, I’ve seen schools of 40 or 50 tarpon before, and on my best day, we’ve jumped five tarpon and gotten one to the boat,” Moore reveals. At this time of year, you’ll see the really-big tarpon that weigh 80- to 100-pounds each or more. Occasionally, the tarpon will take the spoons that Moore uses to troll for redfish. “Spoons weren’t designed to penetrate the tarpon’s mouths,” Moore says. “So, you often will lose them if they attack your spoons.” Last year, Moore specifically targeted tarpon by fishing with circle hooks and live mullet. He boated a 60 pounder and then released it. “Most of our charters want to eat their catches, instead of releasing them,” Moore advises. “But occasionally, we’ll have a client who wants to see silver scales in the air, and that’s when we go tarpon fishing.”
You’ll also enjoy catching cobia in September. The cobia make their fall run this month from the mouth of the Mississippi back down to southern Florida. According to Moore, “We find the cobia along the Gulfport Ship Channel, which is a great place to fish with jigs around buoys for the cobia. We also chum for cobia this month. We’ll go to a channel marker and start chumming, and oftentimes the cobia will come into our chum line. If the cobia don’t show-up in a few minutes, we’ll go to another channel marker and repeat the same process. Most fishermen in Mississippi know about the spring cobia run, but during September and October, the cobia action can be just as good.”
Moore also specializes in nighttime shark fishing during September. “We fish the channel at Ship Island on the north side of the island, leaving at 6:00 pm and returning at midnight,” Moore says. “We’ll catch bull sharks, blacktips and spinner sharks and generally will take a limit of sand sharks. We also have caught a few cobia and redfish at night.”
To fish with Captain Mike Moore at Strictly Business Fishing Charters, call 228-392-4047 or visit http://www.biloxifishing.com.
To learn more about fishing Mississippi’s Gulf Coast every month and the types of fish you can catch and how to catch them, get the new Kindle eBook, “Fishing Mississippi's Gulf Coast and Visitor's Guide” by John E. Phillips. Go http://www.amazon.com/Fishing-Mississippis-Coast-Visitors-ebook/dp/B008DWLUZ6/. Or, you can go to http://www.amazon.com/kindle-ebooks and type-in the name of the book, download the book to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.