Editor’s Note: Captain Ben Sherrill, one of the new breed of inshore guides, takes anglers to places at Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Fort Morgan and in the rivers where they can catch speckled trout, redfish, flounder, white trout, croakers and several other species from the shore in December. We asked Sherrill to tell us where he’s finding some of the best shore-fishing hot spots this month.
There’s plenty of good trout fishing on the Bon Secour River, and at this time of year, the big speckled trout start moving in and out of the river. I cast and retrieve Berkley Gulp! or Bass Assassin grubs with 3/8-ounce jigheads. I also like to catch live finger mullet in my cast net. I’ll hook one through the lips, cast it out and let it swim on a free line. There are several productive spots to fish from the bank on the state park road and other places on the Bon Secour River down County Road 10 where you can fish. Many people debate on whether the fishing’s better on the incoming or the outgoing tide, but I’ve caught fish when the tide’s moving both ways. So, to be successful at this time of year, fish both tides.
Fish the Rocks:
During the spring and almost all summer, there will be quite a few fishermen at Perdido Pass fishing along the jetties. But at this time of year, there hardly will be any fishermen out there, even though it’s a great place to fish without a boat. In December, the sheepshead will start to come into those roc
ks and feed on the barnacles. There’s about a 1/2-mile of boulders where you can walk and catch sheepshead. I prefer to use either a live shrimp with no weight or a modified Carolina rig with a 1/2-ounce sinker up the line, a barrel swivel below the main line, about 2 feet of 20-pound-test leader and a No. 4 khale hook baited with a live shrimp.
There are two jetties at Perdido Pass – the east jetties over the bridge and the west jetties at Orange Beach. I’ll walk about 3/4 of the way out on the jetties and fish the west side of the west jetties. The east side of the west jetties is where the channel comes through Perdido Pass. I’ve learned that more sheepshead tend to migrate to the west side of the jetties, because the water’s calmer. Then the sheepshead don’t have to fight the current as much to feed there.
If you’ll be fishing here, bring extra line, sinkers, swivels and hooks, because you’ll lose quite a bit of tackle. You also will catch a lot of sheepshead. If the water’s too clear, I may use 10-pound-test line because the sheepshead can see the line and will shy away from the bait. I like 10-pound-test fluorocarbon line, if the water’s really clear. I usually carry a 20-foot piece of rope with me and tie one end of the rope to my waist and use the other end as a stringer to put my fish on it. When the bite’s good, you often can catch 15 to 20 sheepshead per person in 2 hours.
Bet on the Fort:
This month, I also like to fish at Fort Morgan. If you park at the Fort and walk around to the beach side of that peninsula, you can catch a number of bull redfish fishing
in the surf. You also can catch a lot of blacktip sharks fishing from the bank there. Those 4- to 6-feet long blacktips will be fun to catch and delicious to eat. I cut my blacktips in thin steaks, marinate them in Italian dressing, put them on the grill and continually turn the steaks until they’re done.
The bull reds at this time of year will average about 15-pounds each and can weigh as much as 35 pounds. I usually release them. Fort Morgan also has the reputation of having some of the best flounder fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, and you can catch speckled trout during December in the surf at Fort Morgan.
Find the Big Speckled Trout:
If you’re looking for big speckled trout, several small rivers run through Gulf State Park, as do two roads – State Park Road 1 and State Park Road 2.
Many times during December, you can find nice-sized speckled trout in these rivers. Most of the trout will average about 1-1/2- to 3-pounds each, but you’ll occasionally get a 4 or even a 5 to 6 pounder from these small rivers.
This month, you rarely will see anyone else fishing these places, and most of the people who fish these locations don’t have the right tackle and bait to be successful. This reason is why I started guiding anglers who wanted to fish from the bank. I help them choose the right tackle and bait and help them learn to be successful catching fish from the bank.
Use the Correct Baits:
I prefer to use a cast net to catch finger mullet for bait and fish with artificial jigs and grubs. I usually carry a bucket of live shrimp with me too. With three-different baits, I should have something the specks, the reds, the flounder and the sheepshead will eat anywhere I fish. If I fish for 4 hours from the bank, I expect to catch three to five good-sized speckled trout and about 10 more that will be in the 1-1/2- to the 3-pound range.
If you’re fishing at Fort Morgan, you usually will catch two or three big redfish, if they’re biting. If I’m fishing Alabama Point, I expect to catch about 15 to 20 sheepshead. So, you can get a good mess of fish, if you know where and how to fish from the bank along Alabama’s Gulf Coast or any of the bays. To contact Captain Ben Sherrill, call him at 251-752-2527.
Tomato-Topped Flounder with Lemon and Garlic
This method works well with a variety of thin (1/2-inch thick) fish fillets but especially delicious flounder. This quick meal will leave you with very little to clean-up. Serve with cooked rice, sliced steamed potatoes or buttered spaghetti for a complete meal.
2 large lemons, thinly sliced
4 flounder fillets
3/4-teaspoon sea salt, divided
1/4-teaspoon black pepper
1/4-cup (1/2-stick) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 large garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1 to 2 large ripe tomatoes
Arrange the oven rack on the lowest rung in the oven, and preheat the broiler to high heat. Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil, and arrange the lemon slices on the foil in four different straight lines, large enough to accommodate each piece of flounder.
Arrange flounder fillets, skin-side down, on top of each portion of lemons. Season the tops of the fillets with 1/2-teaspoon of the salt and 1/4-teaspoon of the pepper. Cut the butter into 1/2-tablespoon slices, and arrange the butter in a single layer on top of the fillets. Drizzle Worcestershire sauce and garlic evenly over the fillets.
Using a serrated knife, slice the tomatoes as thin as possible. Lay the tomato slices over the fillets, slightly overlapping, until the fillets are entirely covered. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4-teaspoon salt over the tops of the tomatoes.
Place on the lowest rack in the oven, and broil for 11 to 12 minutes, or until the fillets are cooked through and flake easily when tested with a fork. Serve immediately.