“Go West, young man” might have been a popular slogan as America expanded in the 1800s, but if you’re looking to catch speckled trout in the middle of the summer, heading east out of the Rigolets to the islands speckling the outer edges of the Biloxi Marsh is some pretty sage advice.
Capt. Bubby Lamy, with In & Out Charters in Slidell, routinely points his 25-foot Ranger east to spots like Isle au Pitre, Comfort Island, Brush Island and Martin Island this month in search of clean salty water and the speckled trout it attracts.
Isle au Pitre, the most northeasterly island associated with the Biloxi Marsh that actually sits almost due south of Pass Christian, Miss., is about a 45-minute run from Rigolets Marina, but Lamy said time is of the essence in July.
“The most important thing this month is to get out early because of the heat,” he said. “Those fish are going to like to be in deeper water closer to the bottom where it will be cooler. And they’re transitioning out into saltier water — that’s what they’re headed for, so you look for a lot of fish to be around those islands further out.”
But don’t make the long trip thinking you’ll have the spots to yourself — you won’t. Lamy said the good news is there’s lots of fishing room for everyone.
“There’s plenty of boats that go out there, but there’s a vast area to fish,” he said. “Not only do you have the islands, but there’s a ton of shell pads from oystermen, and it’s all marked (with poles) so you can get over any oyster reef with a popping cork and float it, and you’re going to pick up fish.”
Lamy is a big fan of using a popping cork out at the islands, but will also employ a drop shot or Carolina rig depending on water depths.
“There’s a lot of areas that are really shallow where I throw a popping cork, and out there you could probably throw a popping cork and catch all the fish you ever need,” he said. “But sometimes I go a little bit further out and it gets a little deeper — like from 2 to 3 feet down to 6 feet.
“At that 6-foot range sometimes I’ll throw a Carolina rig or a drop shot and still catch those fish.”
Lamy always makes the trip with live shrimp, but said plastics are definitely still a viable option during the summer.
“The thing about the islands is you don’t necessarily need a lot of live bait. Most of the time live bait draws in catfish,” he said. “You can go out there with plastics and catch all the fish you want, but I’ll never go out there without any live bait.
“That way you can have one person throwing live bait to get things started, and maybe a couple others throwing plastics, and they’re all going to catch. I’ll be using a lot of clear lures because the water will be super clear. And lots of times when you get out there the water is really green, so I might throw a full chartreuse in that water.”
Lamy will target all possible options on and around the islands depending on what conditions allow.
“For most of them, if you can get to the points, you know water is feeding in and flowing around it, so you know there should be fish there,” he said. “I like to target reefs around the islands, too, but you have to check the surf because sometimes the surf is loaded with fish.
“You kind of have to fish around to see.”