Fighting Big Tuna with Captain Rimmer Covington of the Isle of Capri Resort
Finding the Tuna
Editor’s Note: Last week, I was fishing out of the Isle of Capri resort in Biloxi, Mississippi, with Captain Rimmer Covington of Pass Christian, Mississippi, on the charter boat, the “Peace Keeper.” We left the Isle of Capri at 7:00 am, and by 9:00 am, we were fishing for tuna in 1500 feet of water. Covington is one of the new breed of charter-boat captains along the Mississippi Gulf Coast – young, strong and fast. Covington’s the owner of the strike-force fleet of sleek, fast, open-boat-style charter boats that run 60- to 100-miles offshore to the Continental Shelf. His boat has a sound system that will rival any concert auditorium and a Sirius satellite radio with over 200 stations plus weather sonar. This boat and captain are as fast and as modern as you can get when you want to charter a boat for fishing. Covington has two undergraduate degrees in finance and also a master’s degree in accounting. He walked away from a high-paying job in the securities business to live the life of his dreams. He’s used his education to build a modern-day charter-fishing business for today’s anglers and for the anglers well into the future. Having paid his way through college as a deckhand and a charter-boat fisherman, Covington is constantly learning, finding fish and growing his fleet of fast boats and young, strong captains. When we finally slowed-down, turned down the radio and moved close into a rig, we could see yellowfin tuna chasing bait on the surface.
Question: Rimmer, why did we come to this 1,500-foot-deep water to find tuna?
Covington: The depth of the water isn’t nearly as important as the type of bait that’s holding in this location. The tuna are feeding on hardtails, barjacks, goggle eyes, big-eyed scad, flying fish and squid. Although we’re targeting yellowfin tuna, we’ll also have a chance at dolphin, wahoo and marlin.
Question: Why are the fish congregated here?
Covington: We’re fishing near an oil rig that concentrates baitfish, and the sport fish go where the baitfish are holding. I know the oil industry receives quite a bit of criticism for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. However, these oil and gas platforms have really been a tremendous benefit to fishermen, because they provide the structure for the baitfish in an easy-to-find location where the anglers can pinpoint sport fish.
Question: You said your sonar is your most-important tool. Why?
Covington: I use a Raymarine DSM300, the most-important piece of fishing equipment on this boat because it allows me to see the fish before we try and catch them. It also tells me whether the fish will bite or not. If I can see a tuna higher than 200 feet in the water column, there’s a very-good chance we’ll catch it, because I know it’s actively feeding.
Question: How do you know you have a chance of catching that tuna, if you see it?
Covington: One of the important factors when tuna fishing is current. The more current an area has, the better the fishing will be and the better our likelihood of seeing and catching a tuna. A tuna has to have water coming over its gills at 3- to 5-miles-per hour to have enough flow to sustain life. If a region of water has 3 to 4 knots of current like we do today, the tuna can hold in one spotand let the current bring the bait to it. Then the tuna can see the bait on the surface and make a quick run to eat it. When we spot the tuna on our electronics, we put our baits out and plan to bump-troll right on top of the fish. Bump-troll is simply putting the engines in gear and then taking them out of gear to just barely move the boat.
For more information about offshore fishing in the
Biloxi area, contact Captain Rimmer Covington, (601)
Call Bobby Carter, the manager of the Isle of Capri, at (228) 436-7928, or visit the website at isleofcapri.com/Biloxi. You won’t find better food or nicer, more-spacious accommodations anywhere else than on the Isle of Capri.
Go to visitmississippi.org, or call 1-866-See-Miss (733-6477) for more information about Mississippi’s Gulf Coast.
Tomorrow: The Boat with Everything