Tricky Dick's Tackle Box: Time to Fish


Yep! It’s time to go fishing! Summer is here!

A little slow in arriving as it seemed like Spring drug on forever. There were lots of cool, wet and windy days, leaving only a few warm, sunny and calm opportunities. Now THAT can lead to severe cases of “Cabin Fever”. So now, we can put away those long -johns, hooded jackets and gloves and break out those short sleeved shirts, short pants, sunglasses and sunscreen. Lets go Fishing!!

Live bait is becoming more available every day. Several bait camps have live shrimp, and various minnows. The bays and tributaries are starting to show finger mullet, small croaker and even menhaden, (Pogies) for those that prefer to catch their own bait. I have even caught a few on artificial when waiting on the “bite”. I did have an excellent opportunity to fish a few times last month and really enjoyed it. One day during the second week of May, I took a chance on the weather forecast and it turned out great.

The gray dawn of another day was just beginning to show signs of being interrupted by the first faint glow of the early morning sunrise, as my eldest son, Steve, arrived at our home, followed shortly by another one of my good fishing buddies, Harvey Nixon. It only took a few minutes to load up ol’ “Tricky Dick III”, my faithful l9 foot, 15 year old fishing machine, and we were on our way. I called ahead to the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor and talked to my long time friend, Pat Kuluz, boss man at the Biloxi Bait shop, and was delighted to hear that he had plenty of live shrimp. Upon arrival, Harvey jumped out of the truck, bucket in hand and took off to purchase the live bait. Steve backed in the boat with yours truly on board. Within minutes, we were on our way out the harbor entrance and as I increased the power a little, the smooth purr of the old Everude seemed to whisper, “It’s gon’a be a great day”.

Based on local fishing talk, we decided we would start trying our luck along the rock jetty, across from the casinos, at the mouth of the various diagonal cuts every so often along the half-mile jetty. At first, we had little luck. Caught a couple of small white trout, a spot and several hardhead catfish. Nothing in the ice chest. After a little over an hour, while in the process of discussing where we were going next, Steve suddenly exclaimed, “Got one on!” Seeing the stout “Ugly Stick” bent in to an open “C” shape, Harvey quickly grabbed the landing net and as Steve

brought the fish close to the boat, made a quick dip and a nice two and a half pound Speck came on board. Beaming with pride, Steve smiled and said, “How about that, Pop?” Harvey was still holding the net and gazing at the beautiful silver beauty, when I told him, “O.K. Harvey, it’s your turn. Get rid of that net and get after ‘em.” With that, he dropped the net, and before Steve had even gotten his fish in the ice chest, he made a long perfect cast to middle of the cut and simply said, “O.K. Captain, can do.” Well, guess what? Within a few minutes, Harvey grunted out a garbled “Hey, I got one!” In a turn about favor, Steve jumped up and grabbed the net. Harvey’s fish soon was side by side with Steve’s catch. Well, not that I was jealous, but I figured that I better get my game face on, hold my mouth right or do something to catch up. And, with the “Luck of the Irish”, I soon had a “hook up” and even though it was smaller than Steve and Harvey’s, I immediately felt better. But a few minutes later, I even felt “more better” as I landed another feisty speck that could pass as a twin for the first one. Well, by the time the sun was nearing straight overhead, we had 7 real nice specks, two flounder and a ‘just the right size” black drum, and it appeared the “bite” was over. So, we decided to move out to the Keesler Reef; located just off shore to the South of the Rock Jetty.

Upon the arrival to the reef, we found our normal “hot spot” occupied by another boat, so we moved about 50 yards to the Northeast to another location that was also covered with rubble. Within minutes, we each had a white trout in the boat and for the next hour we continued to add to our catch. To add to the excitement, we each caught our fill of big, hard fighting Gaff Top Catfish. We each knew of a friend that loved the clean white meat of this big saltwater catfish. So Steve, emptied the ice bag of its contents into the cooler and put four of the biggest gaif tops in to the empty bag to keep their natural slime from messing up the ice chest. Of course there were a few hardhead catfish, a sting ray and a couple of sand sharks that were caught intermittingly, but we still ended up with an ice chest jammed plum full. Just to give one an idea of the quality of our prime catch, the six biggest Specks weighted over 20 pounds. Figure it. That’s over a three pound average. A real nice catch for inshore.

One week later, I joined Michael Peterson early one morning and again launched at the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor, bought a bucket of live shrimp from Pat and motored out to the same area that we caught fish the week before. The difference was that the salinity was a lot less and the “charts” said that we were on the tail end of a neap tide. But, what the heck? It looked like the beginning of a beautiful day and we already detected “some” tide movement. The wind however was blowing out of the Southeast and did not seem to let up as the sun came up and the morning progressed.

The first hour or two, we were attacked by small bait stealers, even though we changed the depth of our corks and even tried just fishing on the bottom. As the tide began to noticeably fall faster and faster, Mike quietly announced that he’d had something on and it feels pretty good. I quickly grabbed the landing net and . . ..YES! It was a nice Speck about the same size as we had caught the week before. As I swiftly scooped up the silver beauty, it felt the edge of the net and jumped straight up, out of the net, but fortunately it landed facing the open net that I had lowered back into the water.

With a smile on his face, Mike looked at me and said, “Bout time, but I thought we were going to lose him.” Well the specks were not as cooperative as the week before, as we ended up with only 3 specks and a flounder. So we pulled anchor and started to fish for flounder. This proved to be a good move as by shortly after noon time, we had nearly an ice chest full of the nice sized flat fish. Well, the wind was blowing hard by this time and so we headed for some calm water back near Fort Bayou where we had usually caught a few redfish and drum. But after over an hour with only a four pound black drum and several undersized rat reds, we headed for the house. But, cha’ know what? It was still a great day of fishing on the inshore waters of the Mississippi coast and we agreed that it was definitely
Time to Fish!

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