I was deep in the marsh a couple of trips ago. One of the guys on the boat asked, “How in the heck did you ever find this place”? I remember exactly how I found it. Many years before, Captain Matt Tusa and I were studying a map. We were asking each other where each other had fished. We realized we were neglecting huge areas, only focusing on our “Honey Holes”. Back in the early 2000’s, before we both had kids, and full calendars, we used to have days off. It was on these days off we would take sections of maps, in areas we wanted to fish, and just “Pick them Apart”.
We are long overdue for some of these fish finding missions. Now that we have 7 boats working for Shore Thing Charters, we do most of our fact finding in the early mornings. When we arrive at the dock early, our guys are constantly bouncing places and ideas off of each other. Learning what lagoons are too shallow, or which ones have the good shell banks is priceless information. Back in the day, it was way more hands on, and honestly, way more fun. It wasn’t all about trout either. We discovered countless black drum reefs, flounder banks, redfish ponds, and sheepshead hot spots. They were always there, we just needed to look more closely.
Years ago, we’d pick an area on the map that we thought looked “fishy”, and spend the entire day fishing it. Our favorite scenario was the end of a very low tide, fishing the rise. We knew if we could move around on a shallow low tide, we could fish it on any other tide. The low water also revealed details you’d never see(bars, shells, old pilings, etc). It was all new, so we fished every drain, bay, point, bar, break, etc. We would check as much as we could. We didn’t have customers on the boat, so there was no pressure. The kicker was, this was NOT a meat haul. If we found fish, we would catch a few, make a mental note, and move on. I know, I know, “Never leave fish to find Fish”. We were not there to load the boat with fish. We were there to load the boat with fishing spots for our future customers. We would just force ourselves to keep working the area. We would keep someone on the back of the boat, in clear sight of the bottom machine, in case we went over deep holes or ledges. Someone usually fished a bottom rig, so you could tell if you were fishing over oysters or grass. Somedays you stayed in fish all day, and others, we may have only found 1 good spot. However, knowing where NOT to fish, is just as an important as knowing where to fish.
Matt, myself, and our other guides have traded in the Maps for Satellite imagery. We spend our mornings now talking, trading, and staking claim to our fishing spots. I feel safe in saying, we are on the water more than most folks. I also feel safe in saying that we still haven’t even scratched the surface of this area. Bay St. Louis, Bayou Caddy, Half Moon Island, Cat Island, Jourdan River, and The Biloxi Marsh is very vast and complex. I don’t think any of us will ever learn(really learn) all of it. I am perfectly fine with that. I think it would get boring, fishing the same stuff every day. I enjoy the learning, the exploring, the hunt.
So break out that map, or get on Google Earth. Find some stuff that you think looks “Fishy”. Talk with some of your buddies and see if they know anything about the areas your interested in learning. Get what info you can, get out there, and just “Pick it Apart”.
As always, have fun and be safe