John's Journal...

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

Redfish Magic

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, after we caught our trout, we went to a redfish spot. Tell us how to find and catch redfish.
Schindler: On the day we fished, we had the benefit of a high tide and a south wind. With those two forces pushing the water, the water got high and flooded the marsh. The fish wouldn’t be holding on drop-Click to enlargeoff banks where the bank would drop off down 2 or 3 feet at the edge of the grass. We were fishing eroded banks, which had channels cut in them from erosion. Eroded banks would have patches of grass instead of one solid line of grass. Baitfish held in the patches of grass. The redfish could move from patch to patch and would have to hunt less water to get more bait. So, they expended less energy than they would swimming the grass line.

If the water’s 10 feet deep, there’s a lot of room for the baitfish to escape when the redfish approaches. If the water’s only 1-1/2-foot deep, the baitfish can’t escape. Therefore the redfish have less water to hunt in, and the redfish can find and catch their bait easier. The shrimp, the crabs, the croakers and the other bait will hold in those patches of grass. When a redfish crashes the grass, the bait breaks out of the grass. Then the redfish quickly and easily catch and eat the bait. I like to keep my anglers within casting distance of those patches of grass where I think the redfish are holding and patrolling. I prefer to use dead shrimp, cast to a patch of grass and let the odor of the dead shrimp run down the current. When the redfish smell it, they’ll come up the current and eat the shrimp. Or, I like to cast and retrieve Strike King’s Redfish Magic, which is a gold-plated spinner bait with a grub on it that attracts redfish. They’ll come in and eat the grub. Too, you can catch redfish on top-water baits, like the Zara Spook Junior oClick to enlarger the She Dog.

One of the simplest ways to catch redfish is using a popping cork with about 10 inches of the linebelow the cork and a 3/8-ounce jighead tied to the leader with a good piece of dead shrimp on it. Using this rig, almost anyone can catch a redfish because it requires much-less angling skill than casting and retrieving. That dead shrimp gives off a lot of smell, the jighead holds the shrimp off the bottom, and when the redfish find the shrimp, the battle ensues. Live shrimp works almost as well, but I like the dead shrimp because it gives off more odor and will usually stay on the hook for two or three casts. If you see a redfish rolling or tailing, then if you have dead shrimp for bait, you can cast to it and not worry about the shrimp coming off when you’re casting like it will if you use live bait.

Question: One of the places we fished was an eroded bank that was kind of like a mud bar. Why were we fishing there?
Schindler: In those eroded banks, there are troughs and ditches where the redfish can hold out of the current. As the tide pushes the bait over that shallow mud, oftentimes the baitfish get disoriented. The redfish will rise up out of those troughs and take the bait without expending much energy. Those big reds will lie in those troughs and wait for the tide to bring them something to eat. Then all they have to do is raise up out of the troughs, open their mouths and eat the bait. The tide will bring crab, shrimp, mullet and all sorts of baitfish to the redfish. So, if your bait that’s suspended by a cork runs over the top of one of those troughs, the redfish will Click to enlargecome up and eat it. So, we let our baits drift across those troughs and catch redfish.

Question: Sonny, what size redfish are you catching in the marsh and on the edges of those shell islands?
Schindler: We’re catching redfish that are 16- to 32-inches long. We’re targeting, however, the smaller redfish and trying to stay away from the bigger reds, since the bigger reds are the breeder fish. We enjoy catching and releasing them. But the smaller redfish are the ones we want to catch and eat.
Question: What size fish do you usually keep?
Schindler: We generally try and keep the 16- to 20-inch fish.

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: Book Now for Big Trout in the Fall

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 3