Bait shops hope catch & release will bring back business - - The News for South Mississippi

Bait shops hope catch & release will bring back business


By Krystal Allan – bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - For the first time in weeks, the tanks were full of live bait shrimp at the Fort Bayou Bait Shop in Ocean Springs. Greg Verges has owned the business for 25 years. He said the Department of Marine Resources' catch and release announcement was welcome news. 

DMR announced Monday that recreational catch and release, hook-line fishing would now be allowed in Mississippi waters. Commercial fishing, however, is still banned.

"What little reserves we had, we just ran out. So it came at a good time," Verges said.

For Al Machado of Ocean Springs, the sight of live bait was the best thing he's seen for quite some time.

"The best thing that happened today is this man [Greg Verges] going to get some bait so we can all go fishing... that's enough for me," Machado said.

Verges said he's had a 90 percent drop in business once the fishing bans started going into effect.  So he couldn't be happier to see customers coming back in the door and calls ringing into the shop.  But, he isn't letting optimism get ahead of him just yet.

"You got to wait and see on that one.  It's bad times right now.  A lot of people are still working for BP.  As they deactivate, I'm thinking we're gonna have more people ready to go fishing," Verges said.

Since fish have to be thrown back in, bait shop owners like Verges say aside from shrimp, most of their live bait consists of worms and crickets. 

But fishermen like Al Machado aren't concerned about the selection of bait.  They're just happy to be back out on the water. 

"Thank God we got live bait, that's all I can say," Machado said.

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