If you’re in south Mississippi and looking for a good fishing spot in the Gulf of Mexico, then you need to get in a boat and travel to the south side of Cat Island. As a coast native who goes fishing several times each summer, I can attest to the abundance of fish out there. You won’t always get into the big stuff, but if you’re looking to fill your ice chest up with good eating fish like white trout and ground mullet, then Cat Island is your safest bet. More often than not, I’ve brought something home from there.
Cat Island is located just a few miles off the beach in Gulfport and is visible from the shore. Because it is so close, it has always been a popular destination for locals and tourists. The island takes its name from the raccoons that used to live out there. Hurricane Katrina did some damage to the island, but nothing too serious. During the warmer months, it is not uncommon to see tents pitched along the beaches since people like to camp out on the island.
The best way to approach Cat is from the west side because a long running sandbar extends from the southeast side and you have to give it a wide berth or else run aground. On my last trip out there we had to get out and push the boat off the sand because we drifted into shallow waters. This island is a very popular spot and you’ll always see other boats out there, so you can at least get an idea of how well the fishing is going just by watching other boaters.
Two key spots on Cat are where I have had the most luck fishing. One is called Little Bay, which is an inlet that has access on the west side and extends almost all the way across the island. I’ve caught plenty ground mullet and white trout out there, and one time we ran into a school of bull redfish and got lucky. There used to be an alligator that was often seen out there, but it was killed in Katrina. Another great spot is known as Smuggler’s Cove and it is on the south side of the island. It’s not uncommon to catch small sharks out in the middle of it, so be warned.
If you go out fishing around Cat Island, please remember to be respectful of other boaters out there. Don’t go racing through the middle of everyone and cause them to rock in your wake, because I have seen that happen too many times. Also be mindful of the amount of space between you and the next boat. There is more than enough room out there for people not to get right on top of each other and mess up their fishing trip.
One last note – make sure you have a life preserver for each person on your boat and make sure they all have salt water fishing licenses, because DMR (Department of Marine Resources) regularly checks boaters in this area. I’ve seen more than a couple of boatloads of people sent home for not having the right credentials. It’s also a good idea to keep bug repellent on board the boat since the gnats can be bothersome out there.