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Head to a Barrier Island and Troll for Bull Redfish: Trolling Helps Beat the Heat

August 12, 2007

By Al Jones, The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.

Aug. 12–August and September are the dog days of summer. And with football gearing up and the heat rising, barrier island fishing is often overlooked.

Granted, people still venture to their favorite near-shore spots around harbors or reefs for redfish, speckled trout, white trout and ground mullet. But after 9 a.m., finding shade becomes the top priority. The temperatures can jump from 78 to beyond 90 in less than an hour.

Drinking plenty of water and wearing light-colored clothing and plenty of sunscreen are a must.

Despite the heat, fishing during the dogs days of summer is possible and very rewarding, especially around the barrier islands of Horn, Ship and Cat.

The best option is trolling the Mississippi Sound and the south side of the islands. Unlike anchoring and fishing for sharks, trout, and black drum, trolling allows a flow of air to circulate through the boat, keeping the temperature down 5 to 8 degrees.

That could be the difference in landing a good catch or suffering complications from the heat.

One of the best fishing opportunities are redfish.

Isn’t it funny that anglers often considered redfish a nuisance during spring, early summer and fall when chasing speckled trout?

In August and September, things change because boats of all sizes can venture to a barrier island and participate in landing bull redfish, ones that often weigh more than 30 pounds.

These are also months when reds school up on the top of the water feeding on red minnows. This, along with diving birds, jumping mackerel and skyrocketing king mackerel, make locating redfish easier than anchoring on a sandbar and hoping for the best.

Since the schools of reds follow the minnows, it’s possible the fish can move five miles to the east, west, north or south from one day to the next, so locating birds is critical.

Unlike wade fishing for reds that run 8 to 10 pounds, the reds caught trolling will be 30 inches or larger.

To make a successful trip, use a 4/0 or larger reel equipped with 40-pound test line. You will need large planners, trolling weights and 100-pound test mono leader.

Attach the line to the planner or weight and use 10 to 12 feet of 100-pound test mono leader tied to a blue spoon, which can be bought at most tackle stores.

When using planners and weights, be careful not to get the two tangled. Run the trolling weight on the outside and the planners on the inside off the stern or vice versa.

The planners will keep spoons deeper behind the boat while weights allow spoons to run farther behind the boat. It also helps avoid lines becoming tangled upon hookups.

Keep a spin cast reel equipped with a jig handy because a large school of redfish can feature 100 or more fish. With four or six lines running off the stern, having another rig handy is a good idea.

Depending on the size of the boat, a gaffe or dip net is needed when landing redfish. Larger boats prefer a gaffe, and smaller ones can use a net and cut down on the chances of misfiring with a gaffe hook.

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Copyright (c) 2007, The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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