SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - There is some good news on the horizon for anglers in South Mississippi.
After an above average winter, in which water temperatures dropped into the 40s along the three coastal counties , and last week's cold front that saw parts of the area receive more than five inches of rainfall, live shrimp are finally starting to appear along the immediate beachfront.
That means bait shops from Bay St. Louis to Pascagoula could be days away from a plentiful stock of brown shrimp, which are used by anglers to catch speckled trout, redfish and flounder.
Brown shrimp are generally caught in the Mississippi Sound starting in mid May and stretching through October before the white shrimp move in during the colder months.
Justin Roland, owner of The Tackle Box in the Long Beach Harbor, caught a few small brown shrimp in his live bait trawls on Tuesday near the Biloxi channel. It marked his first catch of brown shrimp this year as the Mississippi Sound continues going through its transitional period from white shrimp to brown shrimp.
"This week, after seeing more saltwater (after rain), I felt it worthwhile to check (live shrimp)," Roland said. "I went further east (Biloxi) where the majority of the fleet works in the summer. On Tuesday, much to my delight, I saw the first sign of baby shrimp. They were not legal (size) for us to keep. Live bait must be 100 per count for us to sell. The shrimp I caught were half that size or smaller.
According to Roland, the appearance of brown shrimp in the Mississippi Sounds is an indication for a solid fishing season.
"From what I can tell, we are in for a good season. The comforting thing is the freshwater (from recent rain) didn't kill (larvae) from what I am seeing. If we stay away from any more large amounts of rain and the water temperatures continue to warm, I think we will have a decent year. I am glad we are starting to see shrimp, because they are hard to find this time of the year," said Roland.
Roland shrimped again Wednesday morning and still found the shrimp to be undersized.
"Hopefully, we are a couple of weeks away," Roland said.