The Quest for a 2 OUNCE State Fishing Record

By Capt Sonny Schindler

April 2nd, 2018 is the day my eight year old daughter, Margot Schindler caught her first Mississippi Youth Division State Record. The fish was a 2.8 OUNCE Silver Perch, she landed at Cat Island, 7 miles off the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Mississippi introduced the youth divisions this year, per the request of the MS charter for hire task force. I was very well aware of the new division, because I sit on the task force. Myself and fellow task force members thought it would be fun to allow kids a chance at a state record. Speaking from personal experience, Boy were we RIGHT!!!

Margots state record catch almost didn’t happen. When we got to Long Beach Harbor, the bait shop had just sold out of live and dead shrimp. I knew that silver perch sometimes are in the bayous at Cat Island, but I have always caught them on shrimp. I had a few minnows in my live well, but things were not looking good.

The weather was picture perfect, and the seas were flat calm. Margot even drove the boat, all the way from Long Beach Harbor to Cat Island. We stopped by the house we use for our overnight trips, on the island. The caretaker, Chris Walters was working on several different projects, but needed a break.

Chris joined us for a quick run around the island, in hopes of finding some fish. At our first stop, we saw another close by. The glass calm seas, and zero wind made it easy to talk to them. They told us they hadn’t had a bite, and asked us if we wanted some of their dead shrimp? I almost swam over to the boat, I was so excited. We got a handful of dead shrimp, thanked the nice guys, and ran back to the canals inside of the island.

Now, for Mississippi to recognize a youth record, the fish must at least be half of the existing MS state record. So for example, if the state record is a 10 pound fish, the youth angler must enter at least a 5 pound fish. I looked at the entire list of state records on the MS DMR website, and the easiest one I could think of was silver perch. While silver perch do not get much bigger than your hand, the current state record is just 4 OUNCES.

When we pulled up into the first canal, I grabbed Margots hot pink Okuma Trio spinning reel, baited a tiny piece of shrimp, and showed her how I thought she fish it. I caught a Silver Perch on that first cast!!! We had brought along a small cooking scale(trophy hunting here), and the fish weighed 2.7 Ounces. She thought that was it, and we were done. It was a good lesson, and she quickly understood, that SHE had to catch the fish.

Well… after that silver perch, we did not see another one for several hours. The other small critters had taken over. We were catching small croakers, ground mullet, white trout, and catfish just about every single cast. With no wind, the bugs had gotten awful, and Margot looked like a true polka-dot princess from all the red gnat bites on her. We had one last spot before I was gonna call it, and that is when she caught it. Margot didn’t even cast, she just dropped her hook right along side the boat. The Silver Perch hit, and she had it in the boat in 2 seconds.

Me, her and Chris knew it was easily over 2 ounces. It was identical to the first one I caught. We were all hugging and high fiving like we had just won the Bass Master Classic. It was a moment I will never forget. Margot was smiling so big, and just had that “I did it myself” look on her face. The fish weighed 2.8 OUNCES, but might as well have weighed 800 POUNDS.

Getting the fish certified was almost as fun as catching it. Since Margot was out on Spring Break, and the wind was howling, we both went to Mississippi Dept of Marine Resources Building, in Back Bay Biloxi. I had called ahead to my friend Carly Somerset(biological program coordinator for finfish bureau), to make sure it was ok. She said bring it on over, that is where it needed to be certified. She was right, and the folks at DMR could not have been more accommodating. They brought me and Margot back into one of the private examination rooms, not lying, it was all by the book.

Margot was interviewed, then her and the fish were photographed. Next, they had two biologist verify the weight, length and species. The two fisheries scientist, Johnathan Barr and Trevor Moncief had Margot riveted. They were both extremely patient and polite. Margot bombarded the with her endless questions about records and basically anything fish related. Everyone we saw in the halls, and even in the little snack room at DMR were so nice to Margot. They all asked to see her fish, and wanted to know all about how she caught her record fish. Margot obliged everyone of them…
From there, we just had to wait for it to be approved. The MS Commission of  Marine Resources meets on the third Tuesday of every month. All record submissions get approved during that meeting. So, on Tuesday April 17th, 2018 Margaret Elaine Schindler officially became the Mississippi State Youth Division Record Holder for Silver Perch!!!

Margot and I have had plenty of memorable catches over the years. I doubt any will rival this 2.8 OUNCE fish. I encourage anyone and everyone to get out there, and bring the kiddos fishing. This new record division is wide open. The entire process was such a fun adventure. It is my hope, that everyone to gets to experience this, at least once. Margot and I already have our sights set on several more youth records. Who knows how big her next record will be?

As always, have fun and be safe.

Capt Sonny Schindler

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