John's Journal...

Fighting Big Tuna with Captain Rimmer Covington of the Isle of Capri Resort

Big Snapper and Grouper

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Last week, I was fishing out of the Isle of Capri resort in Biloxi, Mississippi, with Captain Rimmer Covington of Pass Christian, Mississippi, on the charter boat, the “Peace Keeper.” We left the Isle of Capri at 7:00 am, and by 9:00 am, we were fishing for tuna in 1500 feet of water. Covington is one of the new breed of charter-boat captains along the Mississippi Gulf Coast – young, strong and fast. Covington’s the owner of the strike-force fleet of sleek, fast, open-boat-style charter boats that run 60- to 100-miles offshore to the Continental Shelf. His boat has a sound system that will rival any concert auditorium and a Sirius satellite radio with over 200 stations plus weather sonar. This boat and captain are as fast and as modern as you can get when you want to charter a boat for fishing. Covington has two undergraduate degrees in finance and also a master’s degree in accounting. He walked away from a high-paying job in the securities business to live the life of his dreams. He’s used his education to build a modern-day charter-fishing business for today’s anglers and for the anglers well into the future. Having paid his way through college as a deckhand and a charter-boat fisherman, Covington is coClick to enlargenstantly learning, finding fish and growing his fleet of fast boats and young, strong captains. When we finally slowed-down, turned down the radio and moved close into a rig, we could see yellowfin tuna chasing bait on the surface.

On the second day of the trip, we went out after snapper and grouper. Covington uses a two-step snapper technique. On the bottom rods (rods he fishes on or near the bottom), he uses a large chunk of bonita strip, but catching big snapper and grouper can be a slow process. So, while two anglers were fishing bottom rods for big snapper and grouper, the rest of our crew, including Jessica Pullis and Lisa Krol, were catching mangrove snapper.

Question: How do you catch the mangrove snapper?
Covington: The mangrove snapper congregate around oil and gas rigs just like other snapper do. We move up close to the platforms, and off the bough of the boat, we toss cut-up chum into the rig. We try and pull the mangrove snapper out away from the rig so we can catch them without having our lines pulled into the rig. We use a No. 6/0 39950BL Mustad Demon Circle hook tied to 40-pound-test Seaguar fluorocarbon leader, and then we put on a piece of the same cut-up pogey we use for chum. We cast the chum out with the hook in it right in the middle of the chum that the mangrove snapper are eating. As soonClick to enlarge as we see the snapper take the bait, the angler engages the reel, sets the hook and catches the fish.

Question: How big are the mangrove snapper we’re catching?
Covington: Most of them will weigh between 5 and 7 pounds, which are trophy-size mangrove snapper in some areas of Florida. With the red-snapper limit being at two fish per person, anglers can catch and keep 10 of these mangrove snapper per person. They’re really just as good, if not better, for eating than the red snapper.

Question: Why aren’t more people fishing for mangrove snapper?
Covington: Many anglers know that these fish are available to be caught. In our area, mangrove snapper are much-more available than red snapper. Personally, I’d rather eat a mangrove snapper than a red snapper. The real secret to catching mangroves is to position the boat close to the oil or the gas platform and get the mangrove snapper to come out away from the rig, so you can catch them. On our boat, we usually can fish five to eight people, once we get the mangroves fired-up to start biting. The advantage of fishing for mangrove snapper is you can be catching them while you waiClick to enlarget for the big grouper and snapper to take your big baits near the bottom. We use 80-pound-test Spectra line for our main line and 300-pound-test leader. Right now, we have to use 20 ounces of lead to get a weight down to the fish because the current is so strong. We use No. 12/0 Demon Circle hooks instead of the smaller hooks. The No. 12/0 circle hooks help to cull the small fish because they can’t actually get their mouth around the hook. We use such a big chunk of bonita strip because the small fish will start pecking away on that big piece of meat, and then the big fish will come out and eat that big bait. Using this technique, we catch 20-pound-plus red snapper. On the last three snapper trips I’ve had, we’ve caught seven red snapper that weighed over 50-pounds each, and this year, I didn’t bring a snapper back to the dock that weighed less than 20 pounds. There are plenty of people hooking these big snapper, but they’re not landing them because they don’t have the right tackle.

For more information about offshore fishing in the Biloxi area, contact Captain Rimmer Covington, (601) 951-3981,,

Call Bobby Carter, the manager of the Isle of Capri, at (228) 436-7928, or visit the website at You won’t find better food or nicer, more-spacious accommodations anywhere else than on the Isle of Capri.

Go to, or call 1-866-See-Miss (733-6477) for more information about Mississippi’s Gulf Coast.

Check back each day this week for more about "Fighting Big Tuna with Captain Rimmer Covington of the Isle of Capri Resort"

Day 1: Finding the Tuna
Day 2: The Boat with Everything
Day 3: Catching a Big One
Day 4: Catching a Big One Right after the Other
Day 5: Big Snapper and Grouper



Entry 415, Day 5