Fishing the Fifty
My Quest to Fish All 50 States
My trip to the Gulf coast of Mississippi was an incredible experience in many ways. The beaches are beautiful and uncrowded. I happened to be there during the annual “Cruisin’ the Coast” celebration, when classic cars and their owners converge from across the country, which made for a fun and festive atmosphere.
There are many guides in the Biloxi area, but I chose Barry Deshamp (msfishingcharter.com) because of the big fish he proudly displays on his website. In spite of the fact that it was October, we fished on a gorgeous and cloudless 82-degree day. We started by catching sea trout on light tackle before moving further offshore to target bull red drum (over 27 inches) and sharks. I had never caught an Atlantic sharpnose shark before, but they are a very clever species: once hooked, they will swim directly at the boat, meaning that you have to reel extremely quickly to prevent them from spitting the hook. I caught many of those before hooking into my first big bull redfish, a beautiful 37-incher. [Red drum are called redfish in the Gulf.] These fish offer quite a hard and exciting fight, easily the hardest fight I had had to date. I hooked two more big bull red drum, one being 41.5 inches and the other being the biggest, and still my personal best, a monster 44-inch, 40-pounder. Of the two dozen or so sharks that I caught, the biggest came in at just over 39 inches. I also caught one jack crevalle, which, while considered a trash fish, was very fun to catch because, as is apparently its customary behavior when hooked, it continually circled the boat, trying to wrap itself around the anchor line to get slack and free itself. (I actually hooked two jack crevalle, but one did succeed in getting itself free.)
Mississippi still ranks as one of my best trips. I caught a variety of species and many trophy-sized fish, and I was able to do catch-and-release fishing once I had filled up the cooler. Barry put the fish on his bragging board at the marina to drum up some business (pun very much intended). After a few pictures, he donated the fish to a local VA hospital, so hopefully some veterans enjoyed eating those fish as much as I enjoyed catching them.
My three red drum are some of my unofficial trophies. [Please see (lengthy) explanation of unofficial trophies in the Q&A section for more information.]
Sunrise over the gulf
My first red drum, a hard-fighting, 37-inch bull. This was actually the smallest of the three bull red drum I caught.
The biggest fish of the trip, my 44-inch, 40-pound red drum
My first Atlantic sharpnose shark
My jack crevalle, the best-fighting trash fish I have ever caught
A beautiful, cloudless October day on the Gulf of Mexico
The day's catch
Up close and personal with the big guy
The gorgeous white sands of the Mississippi coast