By Doug Olander August 23, 2017

“Our inshore artificial reefs have been complete game changers.”

Veteran and beginning anglers alike find fast action for big black drum and more on the northern Gulf coast

That’s what my longtime friend and veteran fishing guide, Sonny Schinder — whose Shore Thing Fishing Charters is based in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi — told me recently of the inshore/nearshore artificial-reef structure that the state began placing in Mississippi coastal waters in 2007. So I decided to check it out, enlisting help in that endeavor from some of my kinfolks to join or meet me there for a couple days this August with Capt. Sonny on his new Avenger 26 bay boat.

It didn’t take long to see the validity of Schindler’s comment — and more information on these reefs and how to fish them will be forthcoming in a revealing Sport Fishing magazine feature in an issue next year. But for now, enjoy a look at some of the action, particularly with black drum running rampant, in this little gallery.

Light-tackle beast: A big black drum about to be released by Capt. Sonny Schindler gave angler Rachel Olander a very tough fight on light braided line.

A light-tackle black drum from a Mississippi artificial reef

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Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Just about as quickly as she could cast out a chunk of crab, Rachel is hooked up again. The bit of rubble visible in the background is, in fact, a tiny part of a large submerged section of the old Interstate 10 Jourdan River Bridge.

Fighting a big fish on a Mississippi artificial reef

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Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

I theenk we're going to need a bigger net.... Sonny manages to get the front of another oversize black drum into the landing net.

Big black drum being landed in small net

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Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Grassy shallows nearby also offered action, with Sonny here netting a typical seatrout.

Capt. Sonny Schindler lands a seatrout off  the Mississippi coast

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Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Leaping lady: Jackie Olander watches a good-sized ladyfish doing what ladyfish do when they feel a hook.

Ladyfish leaps off Mississippi

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Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

A big black drum is a lot to handle on light spinning gear, even for experienced anglers. Here, Autumn Lampinen assists son Quinn in gaining line before the big fish can make the nearby bridge abutment.

Mother and son fight a large drum in Mississippi coastal waters

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Rachel Olander / Sport Fishing

The green oval marks black drum galore, at least when we fished around the abutments of the highway 90 bridge across Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi.

Highway 90 bridge over Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi

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Courtesy Google Earth

Yet another big black drum near the Highway 90 bridge that crosses Bay Saint Louis, as Rachel helps nephew Dashel in the tricky, exciting end game at the boat.

Family-fishing fun in Mississippi coastal waters

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Doug Olander / Sport Fishing


A bit of shock and awe for Quinn Olander as he gazes at the largest fish he's seen close up, held by an amused Sonny Schindler.

Small boy admires large black drum

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Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Tripletail also get in the act here; Sonny's caught many monster tripletail. He elected to put a spaghetti tag into this small one before releasing it, all of which Quinn found fascinating.

Ready to release a tagged tripletail on the Mississippi coast

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Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

The shallow waters of Mississippi Sound seemed to be chock full of small mullet. Sonny decided to put a few in the live well with a couple well-placed castnet throws.

Capt. Sonny Schindler throws a castnet

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Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

In Sonny's baitwell, besides shrimp, crabs, and mullet, were these guys: killifish, ubiquitous and hardy little fishes of shallow waters known in the northern Gulf as cockahoe minnows.

Small live killifish are excellent baits, known in northern Gulf as cocahoes

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Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Artificial-reef structure in Mississippi waters nearly always holds sheepshead, and in spring, limits of the terrifically tasty fish are almost a given.

Catching sheepshead off the coast of Mississippi

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Doug Olander / Sport fishing

drum of a different color -- angler Pammy-Lou Pease of Melrose, Florida, admires her first redfish of the trip. At times reds may outnumber blacks, and bulls can patrol structure areas.

Light-tackle red drum pleases angler

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Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Back to the blacks: Closeup of a big bearded bad boy by the bridge.

A closeup of a big black drum

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Rachel Olander / Sport Fishing

Reaching out: Sonny leans out to ease into the net another black drum.

Reaching out to net a black drum in Mississippi

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Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Trying out a new-for-2017 Hanta rod, I hoist a black of modest size (but a good fight on 15-pound braid) after it hit a white Z-Man plastic bait. Note the reef rubble in the background.

The author catches a black drum

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Rachel Olander / Sport Fishing

For More Information:

Fishing: Shore Thing Charters

Accommodations: Vacation Rentals by PRM

General Information: Visit Mississippi