John's Journal...

Mississippi’s Gulf Coast July Trip of a Lifetime with Captain Sonny Schindler

Speckled Trout - When You’re Hot, You’re Hot

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Recently, my son John Phillips, Jr., and I fished with Captain Sonny Schindler of Shore Thing Charters on the “Moni-Q” charter boat out of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, Sonny’s partner Matt Tusa, veteran saltwater angler Rozanne Patten of Auburn, Alabama, Mary McKie Roberts also of Auburn, and Mike Jones of Jackson, Miss., and his brother Brian Jones of Starkville, Miss. Schindler’s fished these waters his entire life, and although he did leave home long enough to earn a college degree at the University of Southern Mississippi in broadcast journalism, he’s chosen to live a fisherman’s life instead.Click to enlarge

As our boat motored up to a small island in the Biloxi Marsh, I could see the current coming around a point. But just at the head of the point, I watched two currents colliding, creating a riffle and a back eddy. I assumed that the trout would be holding on the back eddy, but Captain Sonny Schindler of the “Moni-Q,” our guide, suggested we cast to the front of the point of the island. “The trout will move up to the front of the point to catch and eat the bait before it comes around the point,” Schindler explained. “I found some pretty-good trout in here yesterday and the day before, and I have every reason to believe the speckled trout will still be here today.” Every one on the trip had caught trout, except Mary McKie Roberts. “To successfully catch speckled trout, especially if you’re fishing with a guide, listen to the guide and fish the way he wants you to fish,” Schindler advised Roberts. “I’m here to help you catch fish. And if you’ll do what I suggest, you’ll catch speckled trout just like everyone else.”

IClick to enlargen only minutes, we’d all cast out to the front of the point of the island. We used live shrimp because Sonny said that live shrimp tended to produce more big trout more quickly. “I use live bait to find the schools of speckled trout. Then when the trout start biting, I usually will switch over to plastic baits, such as Mister Twister Grubs or other lead-headed jigs and grubs. To catch these trout, stay within casting distance of them before they start to feed. If you’re not where the trout are feeding, then you won’t catch them.” Click to enlarge

Schindler fishes with Shimano Sahara and Sedona reels and Shimano Trevala rods. “In 2 years of using these rods, I’ve broken only one,” Sonny said. “My partner Matt fishes with graphite rods and breaks one or two every week. Both my reels are work horses too. They’re tough, and they can produce fish from 1 to 30 pounds.” On almost every cast, we caught speckled trout in the 2- to 4-pound range. Up the line from our shrimp, we used a Cajun Thunder cork. Once the shrimp hit the water, if the speckled trout didn’t take the bait immediately, we’d twitch and pop the cork to make the sounds of feeding trout. When the trout heard the splashing on the surface, they’d come into the area where they heard the noise, look for and eat the shrimp, and then we’d hook them. The trout were fast and furious for about 45 minutes. And then a friend of Schindler’s spotted us and parked upcurrent from us, trying to cast to the same location where we were casting. Although the other charter group caught a few trout and one nice-sized redfish, they weren’t anchored in the right spot to let their shrimp drift into the area where the speckled trout were feeding. By 10:00 am, we had 20 or 30 really-nice-sized trout, and the bite was still going strong. But Schindler knew my primary target was tripletails. So, we drifted back away from our spot, shot a few photos and prepared to search for tripletails.

To fish with Captain Sonny Schindler, call him at (228) 342-2295, email him at, or visit For accommodations in Biloxi, Mississippi, 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) SEE-MISS (733-6477).

Tomorrow: Tons of Speckled Trout and Redfish

Check back each day this week for more about "Mississippi’s Gulf Coast July Trip of a Lifetime with Captain Sonny Schindler"

Day 1: Tripletail and Big Speckled Trout – The Search Begins
Day 2: Speckled Trout – When You’re Hot, You’re Hot
Day 3: Tons of Speckled Trout and Redfish
Day 4: Blasting the Crab Traps
Day 5: Another Tripletail and a Boatload of Speckled Trout


Entry 517, Day 2