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Catching Redfish and Speckled Trout off the Mississippi Coast with Captain Sonny Schindler

How to Catch Speckled Trout

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Many people may not know just how good the Mississippi Gulf Coast inshore fishing can be. However, on a recent trip, friends and I caught speckled trout and redfish until our arms were sore. Mississippi and Louisiana share barrier island fishing from Mississippi all the way down to Venice, Louisiana. The Chandeleur Islands are rich with speckled trout, redfish, flounder, cobia and tarpon, and the fishing and the catching are outstanding. The base for most fishermen out of state is the Isle of Capri Casino and Resort where great food and great fishing come together in Biloxi. Bobby Carter, the resort’s manager, is an avid fisherman and hosts two national kingfish (king mackerel) tournaments and the World Billfishing Series Tournament. Carter books accommodations and lines-up captains for both inshore and offshore fishermen. I fished with Captain Sonny Schindler of Shore Thing Charters, captain of the “Moni-Q” out of Bay St. Louis, Miss. Schindler’s fished these same waters his entire life but did leave home long enough to earn a college degree at the University of Southern Mississippi in broadcast journalism, although he’s chosen a fishermen’s life instead.

Question: Sonny, what baits do you use for speckled trout?
Schindler: Live shrimp always produces speckled trout. Too, live croakers are very productive when fishing oyster reefs and gas wells. Cocahoe minnows are also a good live bait. Normally, we use live bait to finClick to enlarged the schools of speckled trout, and then we start fishing with plastic lures like Mister Twister’s RT Slugs and Grubs. The key to catching speckled trout is to stay within casting distance before the trout are feeding. If you’re not where the trout are feeding, you have to keep moving until you find the fish. Then we start them biting on live bait and switch to plastic baits.

Question: What pound-test line do you fish?
Schindler: I like to fish 30-pound-test braided line, which has the same diameter as 8-pound-test monofilament. I use 15- to 17-pound-test fluorocarbon leader that’s about 1- to 2-feet long. I prefer the heavy braided line because you may catch 13- to 14-inch speckled trout and then a 25-pound bull redfish on the next cast. So, if I know we’ll only be catching speckled trout, I may fish 8- to 10-pound-test line. But because there’s always a chance for a big red, I prefer to have the strength of that big braid. Then my client can catch the big red without the fish breaking the line. Too, you can put a lot of braided line on the reel and cast a long distance. Braided line doesn’t rot or have a memory like monofilament does.

Question: What rod and reel are you using?
Schindler: I use Shimano Sahara or Sedona reels and the Shimano Trevala rod. I haven’t broken onClick to enlargee of these rods in the 2 years I’ve been using them. My partner fishes with graphite rods, and he breaks one about every 2 weeks. Both of these reels are little workhorses, they’re tough, and they can produce fish from 1 to 30 pounds.

Question: Today you had two ladies onboard – Rozanne Patten and Dacy Jones. What do you think about having lady anglers fishing with you?
Schindler: They’re incredible. I’ve enjoyed their enthusiasm, and they’re both very inquisitive and wanted to learn more about how to catch trout. I’ve found that ladies are often better fishermen than men because they’ll listen to what I’m trying to teach them. Usually they’re very dexterous. I enjoy taking ladies, children and families as well as male anglers fishing.

Question: Do you teach a lot of people how to catch speckled trout?
Schindler: Yes, I do – every day I go fishing.

Question: What are the three secrets to catching speckled trout?
Schindler: The most-important secret to catching speckled trout, especially if you’re fishing with a guide, is to listen to the guide and fish the way he wants you to fish. He’s there to help you catch fish. He’s been catching trout every day, so he knows where and what they’re biting and how to catch them. The guide’s No. 1 job is to help you catch fish you want to catch fish. If he does, he’s successful, and so are you. Therefore, the No. 1 secret to catching speckled trout when fishing with a guide is to learn to follow his instructions exactlClick to enlargey.

Question: What’s the second secret?
Shindler: Don’t fish where the trout aren’t. If you’re not getting a bite, and you see the water and the weather conditions are wrong, if the current’s not running the way it should, and the bait’s not in the area, move. We have what we call a 5- to 10-minute rule. If we fish for 5 to 10 minutes and don’t get a bite, we move. If we get a bite or catch a fish, we’ll stay another 5 minutes to find out whether that was a stray fish or that there’s a school of fish there.  You may only have to move 150 or 200 yards down the bank to try another spot. If the speckled trout are in the area you’re fishing, they’ll eat. If they’re not there, find another fishing spot.

Question: What’s the third secret?
Shindler: If you’re in a region, and you’re fishing with live bait and corks and consistently catching small trout, then change baits. Go to bigger baits with heavier leads, or use a Mister Twister RT Slug with a lead-headed jig or a grub with a lead-headed jig that reaches the bottom quicker than your shrimp and cork will. Many times the bigger trout will feed at the bottom of the school. The bigger trout let the young trout cripple or injure the bait. Then they have to expend less energy to get more food. The surface water is always warmer than the water on the bottom. Therefore, if a big trout does decide to feed, that fish will come up to the surface, get a mouth full of shrimp or baitfish and then return to the bottom where the water’s cooler and possibly pick up some crippled bait. One of the ways I get bait to the bottom quicker is to tie two, 1/2-ounce jigheads with plastic grubs or slugs on the jigs. When I cast this tandem rig out, I’ve got 1 ounce of lead that will get my baits to the bottom quickly where the bigger trout are holding. Then I’ll try and bounce these baits 1/2- to 1 foot off the bottom, if that’s where the big fish are concentrated. If the big trout aren’t there after I’ve tested the bottom, I’ll leave that school of small trout and go look for a school of bigger trout.

To fish with Captain Sonny Schindler, call him at (228) 342-2295, email him at, or visit For accommodations, contact Bobby Carter at the Isle of Capri at (800) 843-4753, or go to To learn more Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, check out, or call (866) SEEMISS (733-6477).

Tomorrow: Redfish Magic

Check back each day this week for more about "Catching Redfish and Speckled Trout off the Mississippi Coast with Captain Sonny Schindler"

Day 1: Speckled Trout All Year Long
Day 2: How to Catch Speckled Trout
Day 3: Redfish Magic
Day 4: Book Now for Big Trout in the Fall
Day 5: Fall’s the Hottest Time of the Year for Specks and Reds in the Biloxi Marsh


Entry 468, Day 2