SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - The saltwater fishing scene in South Mississippi is directly impacted by the tides, the moon phases and water temperatures.
In terms of water temperature, the key number is 70 degrees in the Mississippi Sound and the bay and rivers systems in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties. That's the magical number when predators enter the Mississippi Sound during the spring as water temperatures begin to rise after a long winter.
In the fall and winter, the 70-degree mark is once again the magical number when predators feed more aggressively – and often for longer periods of time - after a summer in which water temperatures can approach the 90-degree mark.
South Mississippi should hit the magical 70-degree mark with this weekend's expected cool front before dropping toward the 60-degree mark in November. That change will have a direct impact on nearshore fishing, including the reefs built by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources in Biloxi and local piers for flounder, speckled trout, sharks, redfish and sharks.
''I think 70 (degrees) is a good benchmark, but I was always taught by my dad (Jay) and his dad that in the spring the cobia would show up at 68,'' said Dustin Trochesset, captain of the Big Fish charter boat out of Biloxi. "Seventy is a good number to base both spring and fall on because in the spring it's a good number for bait fish to show up. In the fall it's a good number because the water is not too hot to make the predators want to eat. Predators know colder water is on the way and the bait - their primary food source - will soon be leaving.
''October is one of my favorite times to fish because the air temperature is bearable and there's still a lot of fish. The fish are ready to fatten up before the cold water makes them almost dormant and the bait fish are still hanging around until the water gets too cold to run them off.''
Ronnie Daniels, captain of the Fisher-Man Guide Service out of Long Beach, called 70-degrees the magical mark for catching speckled trout. Especially in the Louisiana Marsh.
''Seventy-degrees is the magical mark in the fall,'' said Ronnie Daniels, captain of the Fisher-Man Guide Service out of Long Beach. ''In the spring, it's 75 for me. That's when the [speckled] trout – all fish - start moving back out of the marsh and bays.
''In the fall, it has to do with multiple thins. First, the white shrimp are coming out of the marsh and trout start moving in the bays to fatten up. The drop in water temperature means you can catch trout all day, too. During the months of July and August, when the water temperature is hot, you get two or three hours of fishing in the morning and a half-hour or so before dark to fish. It [fishing] is on right now with the water temperature near 70-degrees.''