Seconds after the Miss Check It docked at the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor, mackerel started flying off the charter boat. The fish were definitely biting for James Norton and his party of five.
Norton said his group booked the chartered trip because "we figured it was a beautiful day. And Mr. Don Balius, he always gives us a good deal, and takes us on a real good trip."
According to some charter boat captains, the fishing industry is starting to reel in a lot more business. Greg Hebert captains the Amberjack. "The charter season so far this year has been better than it was at the end of last year." Hebert said. "We're doing a lot better."
The small craft harbor captains credit a lot of that to this office. You see, they borrowed a page from the Broadwater Marina. They opened a centralized booking office.
That's where John McGonigal and his wife booked their first fishing voyage. The McGonigals paid $250 for a full day fishing expedition. Mr. McGonigal said, "That sounds very reasonable."
Affordability was the reason the small craft harbor charter boats opened the office -- so small groups wouldn't miss out on a deep sea fishing adventure. "The more we run during the summer," captain Don Balius said, "it makes the winter that much nicer for us."
Greg Hebert believes his industry is becoming a bigger part of South Mississippi's tourism base. "Our main goal is to get them out there," the captain said, "because we know they will come back."
James Norton said he'll be back, especially if the mackerel keep biting.
The Mississippi Charter Boat Captains Association has about 100 members.