by Jennifer Campbell- Just Chasing Rabbits

For three hours a day, from February to November, the Biloxi Shrimping Trip becomes the Biloxi Fishing Trip. Our shrimping tour returned to shore, and everyone disembarked. The crew changed, and the passengers changed, but the boat remained the same. We would once again sail out on the Sail Fish, but this time, we would get to try our hand at fishing just off of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Getting to watch the sunset during our excursion was just icing on the cake!

The Sail Fish departed the marina around five o’clock in the afternoon with a new crew, bait, and rods and reels. I’ll admit that I was skeptical about agreeing to join this tour because of my fear of motion sickness while fishing in the ocean. Lucky for me, and for those of you also prone to motion sickness, this tour is not deep sea fishing. The water is calm, but I did take more motion sickness pills just to be safe.

My parents just so happened to be in the Biloxi area for vacation while we were visiting on a press trip (and later we all headed to Laurel, Mississippi for my sweet cousin’s wedding!), but we were not traveling together, and we had not even seen each other at this point. I sent a text to my mom telling her about our fishing excursion, and she replied saying that their hotel was next to the marina! My parents walked from their hotel room out onto a dock to watch us sail by. I knew we were with a great group when our boat of strangers also started yelling, “HI MOM AND DAD!”

Once we reached our location, a place called “the rock piles”, the boat stopped, and everyone started grabbing poles and baiting hooks. I decided to gear up with my camera instead. I knew I’d be way too interested in seeing what other people were catching and taking pictures of the fish rather than having to stand in one place for three hours. Before you make assumptions, YES, I can fish. I practically grew up on a pond bank with my Granny.

The crew, including deck hand Jonathan and his son, Will, made sure that everyone knew how to work the rod and reel, how to cast, and was readily available for anyone who needed help or had a question. Because of this great crew, casting techniques were mastered, smaller fish were quickly cut up for bait, and every catch was identified.

Our tour group was made up of several families including a mother/daughter duo, a father/son duo, parents and son, and a group of three generations: grandfather, father, and son. I loved watching the interaction of the families as they helped one another figure out how to get that perfect cast and how to reel in a fighting fish.

The catches happened steadily and fairly frequently with each guest catching more than one fish (or other sea critter) each. On the top level of the boat with us, a Jonathan and Will were on-hand to bait hooks and carefully remove caught fish from lines while the captain and other crew members helped on the main deck.

Most of the fish caught were cleaned by the crew. Several restaurants in the area will cook up your catch for you. Pretty cool that you can catch your own dinner, right? Mark donated his catch to the other families since we were on a fairly tight schedule.

The types of sea life caught included white trout, ground mullet, catfish, a even a couple of crabs. Mark caught a crab, a catfish, and a white trout.

Because the trip lasts for three hours from about five pm to eight pm, guests can enjoy the sunset on the water while fishing. We did get a bit of rain, which meant cloud-cover and not the most theatrical sunset, but it was still pretty. The quiet anticipation of who would snag the next fish mixed with the calm atmosphere and the colorful sky made for one memorable trip.

By the time we sailed back into the marina, darkness had set in. Others in our group noticed my parents waiting for us at the pier before I did! “There’s Mom and Dad!” We only visited for a minute, but it was a great surprise and a wonderful ending to our day to share our fishing stories (“It was THIS big!”) with my family.

Whether or not you’re a fisherman, the Biloxi Fishing Trip really is a lot of fun. Every single person on our excursion, no matter age, size, or experience level, caught multiple fish. If fishing really isn’t your thing, you can always do like me: Take photos and enjoy everyone else’s excitement. We were told that fishing in the fall is great, but we had a wonderful time in April!

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