Leave it to Capt. Charlie Thomason to march to a different drummer.
When I called the veteran captain looking for some Biloxi Marsh fishing tips, I received an unexpected answer.
“I don’t fish the Biloxi Marsh,” Thomason said, “so I can’t help you. I haven’t fished up in there for 15 years.”
So, where does he fish?
“I fish the edges of Black Bay, in the big bays on the fringes,” he said. “It’s not cold yet in October, so I fish the trout that are still hanging out in the outer bays — places like Lake Calabasse, Lake Coquille, Lake Robin, Lake Campo and Oak River Bay — and I focus my efforts around the various choke points where those bays funnel towards the inside.
“The mouths of bayous and passes — Campo Pass, Bayou Grande by Lake Calabasse, Grand Pass by Lakes Robin and Coquille, Polk and Dallas bayous, Deer Island Bayou — any mouths where water funnels into the marsh will be good. The shrimp are being swept through them, and the trout will be waiting.”
Thomason looks for three things — a fall Trinity, you might say this month.
“First, I look for birds diving over shrimp,” he said. “That’s a no-brainer in the fall. You can safely ignore birds in the early summer because 99 times out of 100, they’ll be diving over tiny trout or catfish.
“But in the fall you are far more likely to find keeper-sized trout under them.”
He said you can throw any ugly color plastics you have at hand when you’re fishing under the birds, and use single lures or double-rigged plastics either under a cork or tight-lined.
“Second, I look for shrimp jumping,” Thomason said. “The fact is we just don’t see as many flocks of birds as we used to. In the old days, anytime you saw a jumping shrimp, birds would suddenly appear out of nowhere and you’d be under a whole flock of them in 30 seconds.
“Nowadays, you can’t depend on them showing up, so you have to keep a keen eye peeled for shrimp jumping out of the water to escape hungry fish. Anytime you see that, creep over and fish there.”
His final factor for success relates to location.
“Third, I’ll fish good current lines around points and cuts, where I find decent looking water,” Thomason said.
He always carries live bait, but it isn’t always needed.
“I like the H&H beetles in the fall — singles or doubles — under a cork,” Thomason said. “They look like shrimp to the fish and are still hard to beat. Sometimes I’ll toss a Vortex Shad when all I’m catching is small fish, to see if we can provoke something bigger to bite.
“I follow the old rule of thumb when it comes to colors: dirty water, dark colors; clear water, light colors. And, this is one of my favorite times to throw topwater baits, like the MirrOlure She Pup, in the chartreuse/gold color.”
Thomason sayid as a bonus, you can catch reds in the exact same bays by fishing right up against the shorelines at points, cuts, corners and coves. Live or dead shrimp under a cork, gold spoons, beetle-spins, and Gulps will do the trick.