The Gulf oil spill is now only a bad memory, and great fishing is available on the Alabama coast in the Mobile area.
Some the best and most accessible action for area visitors is fishing for seatrout, redfish and flounder. Much of it can be had by wading, although small boats or kayaks make wider areas available to anglers.
This great fishing can be found in many areas of lower Mobile Bay, especially in the western bay region near famed Dauphin Island.
Dauphin Island trips are easy to make, and simple to do on your own. Boat launch access is good around Mobile Bay and near Dauphin Island, and there are many marinas, motels and rental properties available for out-of-area visitors close to Mobile Bay.
Boats are needed to reach the best wading sites for fishermen, though long runs are not required. Shallow-draft skiffs shine, but everything from 15-foot johnboats to 25-foot center console deep-V boats can be used effectively; plus kayaks for paddle-power people.
Wading is easy, and spring-summer water is warm. Long pants are advised, however, because of occasional jellyfish. Good wading shoes are wise, too, because of shell and other obstructions on bottom. Brimmed caps and polarized sunglasses are in order, and a fish stringer is a good addition, preferably a nylon type with a float at one end to prevent leg tangles. A small tackle box with selection of lures and leader material should be carried in a pocket or fanny pack.
Spinning and bait-casting gear serves well, with 8 to 12 pound test popular. A three to five foot leader of 20 to 25 pound test line makes sense. Rods in the 7-foot range are preferred, as they help make long casts, which are preferred for spooky, shallow-water fish.
Redfish and flounder are frequent bonus catches, and when running the open waters of Mobile Bay or Mississippi Sound, watch for flotsam, which often draws tripletail in the 4 to 12 pound range. They readily hit jigs and shrimp-imitating lures, including bonefish-style flies.
Oil rig platforms start right in Mobile Bay, where boaters can catch inshore fish like flounder, spotted seatrout, redfish, bluefish, sheepshead, white trout and other species. Mobile Bay rigs are great for year-round inshore fishing, especially for seatrout and redfish, and night action can be outstanding. Some of the lighted rigs are less than a half-mile from shore, in 15 to 20 feet of water and are great small-boat spots. There are about 50 rigs inside the bay.
The rigs off Mobile Bay extend out to around 50 or 60 miles, and out there in deep, clear water, fish like dolphin, wahoo, tuna and billfish are available. But most anglers tap rigs out only 12 to 15 miles, though sometimes in good weather they travel 20 or 30 miles to different rigs. Good offshore rigs can be found within 4 miles of Mobile Bay, though, with great fishing found in 60 to 70 feet of water. At deep rigs in 300 feet of water, there are wahoo, dolphin, tuna, even billfish at times.
The beauty of this fishing is you can start at the first rig or two near shore, fish for a while, then run to the next rig, then to the next one. The farther out you travel the more rigs there are. Through experience, you learn which are the best rigs for snapper, or kingfish, cobia and others.
Many people work out of the public boat ramp near Fort Morgan, on the east side mouth of Mobile Bay. They headquarter in the coastal town of Gulf Shores. Trailering a boat to Fort Morgan makes it a short, fast boat ride to near-shore productive oil rigs. And while fishing the productive rigs off Mobile is no secret, they don’t receive the kind of fishing pressure you might expect.
Alabama sells 7-day non-resident saltwater “trip” fishing license. The daily bag limit on seatrout is 10 with a 14-inch minimum length. Redfish limit is three (16 to 26 inches), there’s no limit on flounder over the 12-inch minimum length, and three tripletail may be kept per person, per day (16-inch minimum length).
A number of guides specialize in Dauphin Island area seatrout. Two of the best are Tim String of Southern Outdoor Adventures (phone 251-610-7849) and David Rice (phone 251-947-6273/978-8220).
Detailed maps of Mobile Bay and Dauphin Island can be purchased at local bait and tackle shops and marinas. The state Marine Resources Division also has a websitehttp://www.outdooralabama.com/fishing/saltwater/where/boat-ramps with a good map showing details of fishing spots, launch sites and marinas.
For more Mobile area fishing information, contact: Smith Outdoors (phone 251-981-1855) or J&M Bait and Tackle (phone 251-981-5460). For marinas, contact SanRoc Cay Marina and Charters www.sanroccay.com; phone 251-981-5423); Zeke’s Landing Marina www.zekeslanding.com; phone 251-981-4044); and Fort Morgan Marina (phone 251-540-2336).
Charter fishing contacts include: Summer Breeze Charters (phone 251-981-4501), and Outcast Charters (phone 251-981-5453).
Additional information is available from the Alabama Gulf Coast Visitors Bureau www.gulfshores.com; phone 800-745-7263).