John's Journal...


Mississippiís Gulf Coast July Trip of a Lifetime with Captain Sonny Schindler

Blasting the Crab Traps

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

Running full-throttle with the 150-horsepower engine, Captain Sonny Schindler’s charter boat the “Moni-Q” streaked past a line of crab-trap buoys like he was running the Kentucky Derby with the favorite thoroughbred and was determined to win. “The more buoys we can check, the more tripletails we’ll find, and the more tripletails we’ll have a chance to catch,” Schindler said. My head went back and forth looking at the white crab- trap buoys as the boat sped past them at a little over 50 miles an hour. To see the tripletails, you must have a great deal of visual acuity (be able to see and identify objects when you only see them for a split second while running at high speed). Schindler explained, “Oftentimes a tripletail will resemble a piece of grass hanging off the buoy line or appear like a shadow in the water. Or, you’ll think you’ve seen something, but you’re not sure, so you need to check the buoy to see if there’s a tripletail there.” Most of the other anglers in our party weren’t accustomed to looking for tripletails at this high rate of speed. But when we passed the fourth buoy on our run, I said, “There’s one,” and Schindler saw the tripletail at the same moment I did. I asked Schindler why he ran the buoy so fast.

“I run this way because the boat doesn’t throw as big a weight against the buoy and doesn’t spook the tripletail,” Schindler reported. “Once we’ve identified which Click to enlargebuoys are holding tripletails, and we’re well past the area, I’ll slow-down the boat and then motor quietly close to the buoy to see how the tripletails are set-up: which direction the tripletails are facing; which way the current’s running; what direction I can approach the tripletails without spooking them; and where I can cast, so my live shrimp will pass the tripletails, and they can eat it.You never want to cast straight to a tripletail because when that shrimp and cork hit right in front of a tripletail, it will be spooked, and you won’t have a chance to catch it. You always want to cast well past the tripletail and the crab-trap buoy and then use your rod tip to direct your cork and shrimp to pass right next to the buoy so a tripletail can see it. I’ll hook up the first one, so you can see how I’ll be casting to the tripletail.” Click to enlarge

Schindler circled the boat downcurrent of the crab trap, and we saw tripletails holding only inches under the water. Oftentimes a tripletail’s dorsal fin would break the surface of the water. Schindler cast about 15-yards above the crab-trap buoy. Using his rod tip, he maneuvered the cork above the live shrimp close to the buoy. At first, the tripletail didn’t see the shrimp, but then for some reason the tripletail turned, came about 2-feet away from the buoy and inhaled the shrimp. Once Schindler set the hook, he passed the rod to my son John, and the battle ensued.

The flat-sided tripletail uses the force of its wide sides to offer resistance to the water. When the tripletail moves perpendicular to the boat, you hardly can turn the fish. But once you get the tripletail headed toward the boat, you can bring it to the net - until the tripletail spots the net. Then the tripletail often will dive under the boat. You’ll have to put your rod tip under the water, so the rod plays the tripletail, and the line doesn’t lie against the side of the boat where it can be cut or broken. John wrestled the tripletail for some time, until finally the tripletail came to the net. As soon as we finished taking pictures, we were on the hunt again – screaming down the marsh, checking crab-trap buoys.

To fish with Captain Sonny Schindler, call him at (228) 342-2295, email him at, or visit For accommodations in 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: Another Tripletail and a Boatload of Speckled Trout

Check back each day this week for more about "Mississippiís 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 4