Coastal Angler Magazine | February 2022 | Mississippi Gulf Coast Edition

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MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST EDITION

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LOCAL CATCH PHOTOS

GRASS FLAT

GATOR TROUT

CURRENT INTEL FROM AREA CAPTAINS PHOTO CREDIT: PAUL MACINNIS IG: @RSOCFISHING

VOLUME 27 • ISSUE 323

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM

F R A N C H I S E

O P P O R T U N I T I E S

A V A I L A B L E

FEBRUARY 2022

W O R L D W I D E


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ost folks associate the word “gators” with big scaly reptiles or a college mascot. Mention gators to a cadre of hardcore inshore anglers and you are likely to elicit fond memories of 30-plus-inch silver flanks speckled with black spots and gaping yellow mouths sporting a wicked pair of canine teeth. I’m talking about seatrout, big trophy trout that prompt some of us to wake up at 4 a.m. so we can be on the water throwing topwater plugs at first light. Big trout don’t act like their smaller brethren, and the techniques that hammer schoolies won’t work on bigger fish. Most gator trout are caught on shallow grass flats 1 ½ to 3 feet deep. Look for flats with dense grass mixed with a few sandy potholes that big trout use to ambush prey. The flat should also have a healthy supply of bait like mullet or pinfish, and it should be close to deeper water, so a wary old trout has a short escape route. During the hottest days of summer, big trout retreat to deeper water off the edge of a flat or seek out shade under mangroves or docks. During the coldest nights of winter, gator trout move into deep channels, canals and dredge holes where they can be targeted with sinking plugs and shrimp imitations worked slowly along the bottom. Seatrout see well in low light, unlike their prey items, like mullet. So, big trout feed best during low light. It is best to

By Paul MacInnis

SLING LURES for Grass Flat Gator Trout

fish early mornings, late evenings, on overcast days and at night. It may seem counter intuitive, but more trophy trout are caught on artificials than bait. Big trout are loners. Lures allow you to cover a lot of water, increasing your odds of intercepting bigger fish. About 80 percent of an adult seatrout’s diet is fish. With that in mind, large mullet-imitating lures are a good choice. The classic gator trout lure is a topwater “walk-the-dog” bait like the venerable Zara Spook. Of course, big swimbaits and shallowrunning plugs also work, along with soft plastic shrimp. A seatrout doesn’t grow to trophy size by being stupid. Big trout are wary and will evacuate a flat at the slightest indication of danger. Hull slaps and pressure waves from a drifting boat put wise old trout on high alert. It’s best to ditch the skiff and either wade or fish from a minimally invasive vessel like a kayak. It also helps to make long casts to get your lure in front of a fish before it detects your presence. Catching a true gator seatrout is not easy, and even when you do everything right there is still an element of luck involved. When you finally catch that trophy fish, handle with care and release her gently. A mature female seatrout can release over a million eggs during a spawn. Let her go to release her big-fish DNA into the gene pool.

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The Experts in Custom Rod Building Have Much to Share

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101 instructional videos to product reviews to Rod Recipes to Mud Hole TV episodes—where the team builds custom rods and puts them to the test against the most popular target species—Mud Hole provides the highest quality, most entertaining rod building content available. In addition to recorded video content, Mud Hole also hosts a live, streamed rod building show, Mud Hole Live, where hosts and guests share rod building techniques with an interactive, online audience. Who knew that custom rod building would hit the big time! Beyond making quality rod building content easily accessible to DIY audiences, Mud Hole also offers custom rod building classes with professional instructors. The workshops take place in the Mud Hole Education Center in Oviedo, Florida, in local markets across the U.S., and even online, in the comfort of your own home. A variety of topical classes are offered, from beginner workshops to application-specific builds, such as surf, fly, redfish and mahi rods. All classes include every component, supply, and all of the personal interaction needed to build high quality, custom fishing rods. Mud Hole also collaborates with schools and youth organizations like the Boy Scouts of America and 4-H to bring rod building to students through

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FEBRUARY 2022 Bait e h t Find

T

Fish e h t d , Fin

his is the time of year when speckled trout stack into certain areas and travel in large schools. Baitfish, behave the same way. When water temps plummet into the low 50’s and even colder, baitfish gather in large schools around areas of warmer water. With February weather, one thing is for sure, find the baitfish and you will surely find the fish!

When looking for baitfish there are 2 types that I look for. The first type that I scan the water for are smaller baitfish, such as glass minnows. You will typically find these baitfish in huge pods close to grass lines and structure. Some of my biggest trout days have been chasing down schools of glass minnows that are getting blown up on by speckled trout. The next type of baitfish I look for are larger profile baits such as croaker, pinfish, and mullet. This time of year you can find these baitfish stacked in creek channels and around mud flats. When looking for schools of these baitfish I’m looking for mullet jumping on the flats or the constant smacks on the surface from croaker, pinfish and pogies. With winter temps in the low 50’s and the speckled trout becoming less energetic and lethargic, one thing is for certain. The speckled trout will not be far from their food sources. I hope this article was helpful, you can find many more videos covering a variety of inshore fishing topics on our Youtube Channel “Southern Salt Kayak Fishing” Until next time tight lines and stay safe!


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Offshore Report Derek Stiglet Nelson Outdoors Pro-Staff

Of February 2021 January 2022 february 2022 D Offsh Nelson Der Nelson Ou

The 2022 2021 season has officially begun. The standard scheduled maintenance for the Geaux Fish and up keep has started to get ready for the season. Wahoo fishing and Tuna fishing continues to be great but the Cobia spring migration and local fishing tournaments are just around the corner while anglers are looking forward for good weather conditions as the season moves on.

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M i s s i s s i p p i Kitchen Delights Contributed by: Aaron Kopp

February Kitchen Tip:

Properly Storing Fish

A

dmit it. Right now, in your freezer, you have a bag of frozen fish that’s 1-2 years old and will likely stay buried until the next time your freezer is cleaned. The fish is likely freezer burnt, off colored, and does not look edible anymore. We’ve all done it with the best of intentions. However, is this practice the most responsible use of our resources? The answer is no. The truth is that we as South Mississippians have access to a resource that many chefs around the country envy. As such, striving to preserve our catch with as much respect that went into harvesting it is the goal. Below are a few recommendations and best practices to ensure that when you put your catch in the freezer or fridge and pull it out, it still tastes as delicious when it hits your plate. Vaccum Seal Your Catch

Short Storage Ice Bath for Fresh Fish

I rarely freeze my fish anymore because it simply tastes better going right in the pan. When a fish fillet is frozen, the fluid inside each protein cell expands and tears the cell wall of the protein molecules in the fillet. When the fish thaws, the texture is destroyed because the structure of the protein cell is no longer intact. This is the reason fish like white trout turn to mush when frozen.

A fantastic way to keep your catch fresh for a long time without freezing is to place your fish in an airtight bag, such as a Ziplock, press all the air out of the bag, and submerge the fish bag in a bath of ice water in your fridge. Put as much ice as the bowl will hold. The water will simply fill in the gaps between the ice in the bowl. Each day, check the bowl and refill with ice, keeping the ice at the same level. I have successfully kept fish longer than a week in my fridge using this method.

Vacuum Sealers are a fantastic way to preserve your catch. Affordable vacuum sealers are available for as low as $40 online. A trick to ensure you achieve a good seal on your vacuum bag is to fold a paper towel and place it at the top of the bag completely across the top. When the vacuum runs, the towel absorbs the liquid from the fillets and keeps the bag dry where the heat seals it. Label Your Catch and Rotate Your Stock

If you must freeze fish, do not skip this step. Keep your stores organized in your freezer by labeling the type of fish and date it was frozen. Keep older stocks of frozen fish in the easier to access locations of your freezer to ensure they are cooked first. Lastly, if you regularly find fish in your freezer that has been frozen for more than 6 months, consider catch and release on your next trip or donating to local food charities.

The

Stay tuned, too!

There are other, less conventional, and wonderfully delicious ways to preserve and prepare your catch that will be covered in coming months.

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in February

Fishin'

Forecast by Sonny Schindler

F

ebruary is cold, plain and simple. Weather wise, it's a challenging month. But, if you're gonna be a bear, be a Grizzly. Safety should always be your first priority, but you should double check everything this month. Our boats spend almost all month on the bridges, nearshore reefs and structures. This isn't a a bad thing, this fishing can be incredible. The majority of what we see is black drum, redfish and plenty plenty of sheepshead!!! Not gonna lie, all of our guides have come to thoroughly enjoy the big sheepshead run.

Live Shrimp or good fresh dead shrimp is vital. Pass Harbor, Long Beach Harbor and Gulfport Harbor bait shops have been busting their humps to keep our Bay St Louis boats in bait. THANK YOU!!! Definitely take advantage of any good weather you get. However, if you have the luxury of fishing around the big swings in the tide, that's usually the better bite. Bring plenty of hooks, swivels, and varying sizes of lead. A simple jig head tight lined works well too. If your not loosing a hook or two here and there, you're probably not fishing close enough to the structure.

-Inshore -Offshore -Corporate If it's fishable, go get em. If TripsI'd strongly the weather stinks, recommend-Multi-Boat knocking out some maintenance, cleaning, repairs and replacing what ever needs it. Get your reels cleaned, engines and trailers serviced and greased. Go Through all your safety gear and if it's expired or even looks questionable, REPLACE IT. As always, have fun and be safe!

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Biloxi, MS - Feb 2022

FEB 22

Biloxi Tide Chart B I L O X I

C H A R T

AM

ft

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Low Tide 6:43

1 Tue 10:57 1.5 8:26 Louisiana, South Pass, Biloxi (Cadet Point), Biloxi Bay 2 51.4' Wed 11:49 1.2 9:11 N 30° 23.4' / W 88° Date

Day 3

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Mo 4

Thu High Tide

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5:01p

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9:28p Fri

2.1

6:48a -0.3 0.3 8:27

6:31

6:22a 5:47

5:01p

4:44p

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12:17

0.8

3:12

0.2

8:16

5:18

0.1

6:30

5:48

6:23a

5:00p

5:20p

Sun 10:54p

1:20 2.4

0.5

2:01

0.4

7:20 8:54a 0.2 0.0 9:11

0.0

6:29

6:24a

5:48 6:25a

5:00p

5:59p

5:00p

6:44p

2.2

2:00

0.7

9:38a

6:28

5:49 6:26a

5:00p

7:33p

2:28

1.1

6:27

6:26a 5:50

4:59p

8:26p

3:14

1.3

6:27a

4:59p

9:22p

4:14

1.6

6:28a

4:59p

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9:54p 10:23p

2.2 2.2

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25

Th

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12:40a

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2.1

1:20a

1.9

Wed

Fri 2:02a

1.7

Su 26

2:47a Sat

1.4

27

5:15a

1.1

28

8:16p

Mon

1.2

Tu

6:18a 5:43

7:56 5:25a -0.7 0.7

23

30

6:35

1.0

24

Mo

2:32p -1.0 0.4 6:13

1.2

Tue

29

1.3

5:42 6:17a

11:29

Tu 22 We

28

6:36

10:46

23

Fr

5:31 1:52p -1.0 0.1

1.9

Mon 11:27p

Sa 25

-0.3

4:49 -0.9 1:01p -0.1

1.8

Mo 21

27

10:03

12:01p

-0.3

-0.8

9:06p Thu

22

26

7:44a

10:55a

Sun

11:48p 6:43 1.11.7 9:06p

7:29a 8:11a

0.1

-0.1

0.0

-0.1

10:23a -0.1 12:08 -0.3 11:08a -0.1

1:37

-0.6

6:26

5:51

2:42

-0.9

6:25

5:51

6:24

5:52 6:30a

6:23

11:52a 12:33p

0.0 0.0

3:42 1:09p -1.1 0.3 1:34p -1.2 0.4 4:40

7:59 1.11.7

2:55a 1.0 5:36 -1.2

9:11

6:28

1.6

3:50a

0.7

-1.0

1:33p

6:30a 5:53

4:59p

6:22

6:31a 5:53

4:58p

1:17a

6:21

5:54

4:58p

2:19a

0.7

6:32a

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CATCH SMALLMOUTHS IN THE MOUNTAINS OF NORTH CAROLINA

H

By Capt. James McManus

ere in the western North Carolina mountains, we get a lot of visitors. Snowbirds are what we call people who come here from up north to enjoy our milder climate. One snowbird most fishermen cherish is the smallmouth bass. We are at the southern end of their natural range, and almost all of our watersheds contain some. Smallies have characteristics that endear them to anglers. They are aggressive, eat year-round, grow to respectable size and when hooked spend as much time out of the water as in.

You can find these beauties in most of our sizeable rivers. River fish seem to be more active in summer. I think it’s linked to terrestrial food items being more available. Floating area rivers like the Tuckasegee, Little Tennessee, Hiwassee and French Broad will keep you in fish regardless of your preferred method. For fly guys, any minnow or crawdad imitation will draw strikes, and in warmer weather nymphs and hoppers get their attention. Poppers and sliders can be lots of fun, just remember river smallies tend to be smaller than their lake buds. I spend more time chasing lake fish. There is less competition from other anglers, and average size is much better. Winter and early spring are the best seasons, in my opinion, only because the females are chock-full of eggs. It is when we catch our largest fish of the year. Many methods produce, and I throw a lot of jigs and jerkbaits. Lake fish have a variety of forage, so anything resembling threadfin shad, blueback herring or crawdads fits their menu. Dropshot, Shaky head and wacky-rigged worms all catch fish. Average depth for smallies year-round is 45 feet, or so. However, our clear mountain lakes allow them to identify prey up on the surface. Don’t shy from throwing topwater just because you mark fish deep. Especially when they are feeding up pre- and postspawn, you’ll find smallmouths on rock or gravel, where they love to eat little lobsters. They also suspend in open water to chase shad, but this is more of a warm-water behavior. On Lake Fontana, my home lake, we troll a good bit, and it’s not unusual to find them suspended at 45 feet over 200 feet of water. I should note that while we still have good smallmouth fishing, invasive spotted bass have forced their way into smallie enclaves. For this reason, we never kill a smallmouth. If you like to eat fish, take all the spotted bass you want; they are better eating anyway. Smallies and spots use the same spawning areas and hybridize. While not good genetically, it produces a fish that has that hybrid vigor, hence the name “meanmouth.” Markings and coloration make the smallmouth one of the prettiest of all fish. We should try hard to preserve them so our kids have the thrill of fighting one of the gamest fish around. Captain James McManus owns 153 charters out of Sylva, N.C. Call him at (828) 421-8125. James fishing McManus/Instagram.

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C-HAWK & MITZI SKIFF: DEPENDABLE SIMPLICITY

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here’s a certain type of boater who values simplicity and functionality over flashiness. Most anglers fall into this category. A simple boat comes with less hassle, allowing you to spend more time on the water. Two brands that fit right into this niche for dependability and easy boating are C-Hawk and Mitzi Skiff. Across the product lines for both boats, a no-nonsense reputation has developed a considerable following among people who would rather fish than look at their boats. No trailer queens here! “We build a keep-it-simple-stupid boat. If you want something you can soft scrub at the end of the day and put it away, you’re my guy,” said Brad Grubbs, the owner and manufacturer of C-Hawk and Mitzi Skiff. “We set out to make boats that are affordable to operate and affordable to own, and the philosophy has worked.” C-Hawk, which has been around since the mid-1970s, offers lines of 16’ to 29’ center consoles and 22’ to 29’ sport cabins that were originallyw developed for commercial applications. C-Hawks remain widely used commercially, and many recreational boaters also see the value in a vessel

H that’s built to take a beating. “Really, we just took a commercial-duty boat and put a little lipstick on it,” Grubbs said. “The boat is as tough as it ever was. It’s been the same boat for nearly 50 years.” Mitzi Skiffs were designed for a specific purpose, yet the same philosophy applies. When the first Mitzi was designed in the mid-1990s, the concept was simple. There was nothing on the market with the shallow draft, clean layout and quiet maneuverability needed for fly fishing the flats. Those ideas propel the company today. Almost 30 years later, Mitzi’s line of 15’, 16’ and 17’ skiffs achieve those purposes exceptionally well, and they are inexpensive to own and operate. With the original design and continuing innovation, Mitzi Skiffs are flats boats other boat builders imitate. C-Hawk and Mitzi Skiff boats are available exclusively through select dealers. Contact your local dealer to find out how they can be rigged out to fit your style of fishing.

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ave yourself the parking headaches—oneshot your boat or trailer into position every time with one of Parkit360’s Electric Trailer Dollies. Parkit360 units are powerful and easy to use. Even large trailered boats, campers and cargo trailers are infinitely more maneuverable, especially in tight spaces, with a Parkit360 Trailer Dolly. The Force and Transformer models are compatible with almost every trailer right out of the box thanks to their ball-mounted Stablelock technology. Just freewheel the dolly to the trailer, connect to the hitch and steer your trailer into place. With weight capacities ranging from 5,000 to 15,000 pounds, these portable powerhouses can handle the most difficult parking challenges with ease. Parkit360 makes compact dollies that make parking easy, even on difficult surfaces. With planetary gearing, all Force and Transformer models include 6.5” tires, standard, which provide excellent traction on a wide range of surfaces like firm grass, packed gravel, asphalt and up to a 6 percent incline. Unlike a driver who relies on mirrors and backup cameras, the user faces the trailer, giving them complete visibility and control while parking. See exactly where the trailer is at all times and steer within inches of any obstacle if needed. You can park in ways that are impossible with a truck and have the flexibility to move around the trailer at any time to check its position or for obstacles that might damage your precious cargo. The dolly’s compact design also allows the user to park hitch-end forward as a serious theft deterrent, something that is pretty much impossible to do with a vehicle. All models include Intelligent Speed Control, a great feature for those looking to move through open areas quickly, and more precisely in tight spaces. The high and low speed

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WHEN FISHING SHALLOWS, YOU NEED A REEL WITH A REPUTATION THAT RUNS DEEP.

Packed with more fish stopping features than ever before, the PENN ® Slammer ® IV takes a tradition of excellence to a whole new level. An 8+1 sealed stainless steel bearing system with Hydrophobic Line Roller Bearing makes the reel as smooth as it is tough. The Slammer IV drag system was upgraded to provide wider range. And the reel body and spool are now even more perfectly sealed. Just like the fate of the fish. PENN. LET THE BATTLE BEGIN.

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