Spring Fishing

Spring Fishing along the Mississippi Gulf Coast can be tricky, but Cat Island is a great place to start. You never seem to find the fish in the same spot as the day before. I would give you GPS coordinates but it wouldn't help. You have to know how to find the fish. My experience has taught me there are several key factors to locating speckled trout and redfish this time of year. Read on to learn more and then I hope you'll get out there and give it a shot!

Find the Bait, Get Out and Wade, Bring Your Buggs!

This time of year the water is slowly starting to warm up and the bait fish are scattered. The first thing you want to do is scan the banks and marsh grass for any signs of mullet or small minnows. Finding bait fish is one of the keys to Spring Fishing. Once you find them, you should anchor your boat upwind about 50 yards away. I say anchor because my next piece of advice will be to jump out of your perfectly good boat. Here's why! It's to your advantage to wade fish this time of year. Wade fishing let's you slowly work an area, helping you to find the fish without spooking them. You'll also discover variations in depth and bottom structure. Since the water is still too cool to wade in shorts, you HAVE to wear waders.

Here's a bit of advice on what lures I'm using and the other gear I bring while Spring Fishing the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I prefer a floating basket rather than a stringer, because most baskets have a lure box attached to the top of the floating ring. I keep my lures in here and don't feel weighed down by all the gear. Your lure selection is the most important decision to make! You have to bring a sinker and a topwater. I never leave the boat without a Buggs Black Gold 1/4 oz. Curl Tail Jig and a medium to large super spook. That Black Gold Buggs jig works well in all types of water clarity and with the 1/4 oz. size I can work deep and shallow water. And I absolutely love a topwater bite so you'll never catch me without one.

speckled trout, curl tail jig
speckled trout, cat island

Along with my lures, I always double check my gear to make sure I don't forget my pliers. When you're trying to dig the hook out the rugged jaw of a redfish or getting both trebles out of a big speckled trout that hasn't quite calmed down yet, you don't want to look up and realize the boat (and your pliers) is 500 yards away! An easy way not to get caught without them is to secure them to your wade belt. There's a handy way of hooking them up and a little pouch to hold them while I'm wading. On long wades the belt helps support my lower back and keeps me fishing longer.

Fish the Afternoons and Start Shallow

While Spring Fishing the Mississippi Gulf Coast, I like to fish in the afternoon rather than in the morning. It gives the water a chance to warm up a bit. The mornings can be pretty chilly. After everything is in check, I hop out the boat and start off fishing bottom immediately. I fish the curl tail jig very slowly, blasting the banks and shallows where I've seen bait over and over while wading with the wind at my back.

The first bite you can anticipate is the slow inhale of a redfish. It's almost like you've snagged the bottom then BOOM, he's off like a rocket! This is an exciting moment so you need to maintain composure so he doesn't break your line. The easiest solution is to set your drag pretty loose. During Spring Fishing times, the reds are usually running in packs so be quick to get back and cast in the same spot. The reds I've been landing are perfect 27 inch slots, with a few bulls mixed in. The bulls are fun to catch and great to take a picture with. But they aren't worth eating because the meat is tough and bloody.

jeremy mchugh, redfish
adam murray, jeremy mchugh

As the evening moves on you're more likely to come across that sweet sweet watermelon smell and a slick on the water. This signals the arrival of my personal favorite, Speckled Trout! To hook up with one of these spotted beauties you should tie on a fresh curl tail jig. Don't be afraid to try different color patterns, and to switch to a 3/8 oz. if you're casting to deeper water. Buggs offers a great variety, but my favorite color is the one I'm catching them on! Instead of working it slowly across the bottom like you were for reds, you should pop it and let it sink repeatedly until you feel the soft mouth of a trout strike it! Then set the hook by pulling back firmly but not too quick so as to not jerk it out of its mouth.

The trout haven't been in full force lately but your bigger trout are around. As the sun starts getting low and the trout bite has faded, I then switch to a topwater bait on my Spring Fishing trips. As I make my journey back to the boat I'm hoping to trigger that last big lonely trout to top it all off. I cast away from the shoreline as far as I can to cover as much ground as possible. Then I'm back to the boat, slap worn out, with an ice chest full of fish. The adrenaline is still pumping from a great wade session, and I take a load off. All I can do is watch the sunset fade to the west after some awesome Spring Fishing at my favorite place in the world, Cat Island along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. As I head back to Long Beach harbor I'm already planning my next adventure!


Spring Fishing along the Mississippi Gulf Coast can be tricky, but the rewards are there if you work it and follow these tips. Once you find some bait fish activity, get to wading and don't forget your Buggs! I hope you'll get out there and try it or call me and we'll plan a trip. If you have any questions about how to fish Cat Island, feel free to call or email me.

Captain Jeremy McHugh - Stillwater Fishing Charters - jeremymchugh11@gmail.com - (228)697-9002

Head to Captain McHugh's website for more information about his guide service and to book a trip.

We're thrilled to welcome Captain Jeremy McHugh as a contributing author and valued member of our Pro Staff here at Buggs Fishing. I first met him in May of 2012 and enjoyed two very successful days wade fishing Cat Island. He's an exciting young fishing guide who has developed a sincere appreciation for wade fishing the Mississippi Gulf Coast. His advice is applicable to anyone fishing the Gulf Coast for redfish and speckled trout.

Thanks for visiting the Spring Fishing page. I hope you'll put these tips into action this Spring along the Mississippi Gulf Coast or wherever redfish and speckled trout are found. Keep in touch and let us know how you do!

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