Capt. Tim Ursin Sr., aka Capt. Hook (504-512-2602) over in Shell Beach, said we’ll possibly have a colder winter this year — which will require a switch in tactics.
“The last few years we got spoiled with winters so mild the shrimp never left the marsh and we fished like it was fall, under corks, throughout January and February,” he said. “I suspect this year may snap us back into the reality that winter is cold and it brings with it low, cold water that drives fish out of the shallower marsh into deeper bayous where they snug bottom and seem to develop lockjaw. When it gets cold, if you don’t fish slow and on the bottom, you don’t catch fish.
“I think the shrimp will disappear, but I’ve been seeing small finger mullet all over the bayous in the Biloxi Marsh, so I think it’ll hold fish as long as the air and water temperatures don’t plummet.”
Hook advised anglers to leave the dock a bit later in the morning and give the sun a chance to warm things up a bit — and then to focus on deeper bayous first, preferably those with an oyster bottom.
“The shell bottoms warm up faster and hold heat longer,” he explained. “The mud bottoms don’t hold the heat, and in colder weather the fish seek warmth.
“Lake Borgne along the rocks should produce some specks and reds, and the mouths of the bayous should produce on falling tides. Deeper bayous like Bayou Robin, Bayou Bernard, Bayou Sue and Crooked Bayou should hold fish, so any deeper water — at least 5 to 6 feet deep and preferably even deeper — is where you try first on colder mornings. Fish the bottom with live or dead bait, or just a soft plastic bounced slow off the bottom. As it warms up a bit, start fishing over shallow flats in nearby bays, under a cork. Use live shrimp if it’s available, but soft plastics should do the trick. I like the small white or glow-colored Vudu shrimp under a cork, or even a small H&H beetle in white or clear sparkle.”
Hook said you should pick up some reds in the mix, but you can target them at points, cuts and coves with dead shrimp about 12 to 18 inches under a cork.