Editor’s Note: Pete Aguon of Robertsdale, Alabama, fishes the Gulf State Park Pier in Gulf Shores, Ala., 6 days a week. Each day he’s on the pier from 8 to 12 hours, catching fish, visiting with friends and helping other anglers catch fish from the pier. Aguon knows December pier fishing.
We still should have some king mackerel coming in this month at the Gulf State Park Pier, if the weather stays warm, and the baitfish remain on Alabama’ Gulf Coast. If the water temperature remains in the lower 70s, we’ll see some of the biggest king mackerel of the year being caught from the pier. The big bull redfish started making their run in No
vember, and during the first 10 days of November, pier anglers landed 40 to 50 bull reds weighing from 18- to 24-pounds each from the pier. But my favorite fish to target at the pier is the king mackerel.
Two methods have proven to be extremely effective for catching king mackerel, if you’re fishing off the end of the pier. You can cast-out a dead cigar minnow and let it free line or cast-out a live menhaden and snobble the live menhaden back to the pier (snobble, a German word meaning to reel-in the bait in such a way as to make the bait appear more alive). We also snobble-in cigar minnows. We fish with either a medium or a fast retrieve, depending on water clarity and water temperature. We use a No. 2 or a No. 1 treble hook on the ends of our lines. With live bait, we either hook the menhaden through the bottom lip or just forward of the eyes. The hook is attached to coffee-colored 32-pound-test single-strand wire leader. On the other end of the leader, we have a SPRO 130-pound-test barrel swivel. To the end of the swivel, we tie our main line, which will be as heavy as 20-pound-test monofilament to as light as 12-pound test.
I generally take four rods to the pier with me each day in December. The first rod will be rigged with 20-pound-test line, the second rod rigged with 17-pound-test line, my third rod will have 15-pound-test line, and my f
ourth rod will have 12-pound-test line on it. As the water in the Gulf of Mexico becomes more clear in December, I’ll use the smaller-diameter line. I’ll put about 410 yards of line on each spool. A 14- to a 16-pound king mackerel can strip off 250 yards of line in 10 seconds when it takes the bait. Now, if we’re fishing for redfish, we’ll cast out dead cigar minnows and let them float, or we’ll fish fresh-cut mullet on the bottom. We’ve learned that we generally catch the bigger reds by fishing cigar minnows on free lines. These December pier redfish can weigh from 14- to 27-pounds each. When we catch a big redfish on the pier, we use a landing net that’s let down with a rope to land the redfish. We pull-up the big reds, photograph them, kiss them on their heads and release them back into the water. Since most of the bull reds we catch are females, we release them back into the Gulf of Mexico to reproduce more baby redfish, so that we’ll have more redfish to catch.
If the water stays warm, as it generally does at this time of year, we also should be catching Spanish mackerel. The flounder bites will be good, as will the whiting bite, and we hope for a good speckled trout season, too. We’ll be catching magnum croakers that often will be bigger than white trout or speckled trout. To catch the speckled trout, we’ll use a live shrimp suspended by a popping cork. Or, if we’re fishing around the pilings of the pier, we’ll use a Berkley Gulp! Shrimp in the new penny or the natural shrimp color. We’ll fish them on either a 1/4- or a 1/2-ounce jighead a
nd hop them off the bottom around the pilings. This technique not only produces speckled trout, but it also yields flounder, white trout, an occasional sheepshead and almost any other type of game fish holding near the pier and on the pilings.
On an average day during December, I usually expect to catch a mixed bag, including whiting, croakers, flounder, redfish and Spanish mackerel, if the weather turns cold. But if the weather stays warm, and the king mackerel are still biting, I’ll be out on the end of the pier fishing for the king mackerel and the big bull redfish. The good news about fishing from the pier this month or at any time of year is that there’s always something biting.
For more information about the Gulf State Park Pier, visit www.alapark.com/GulfState
, or call 251-967-FISH (3474).
If you’re fortunate enough to catch some redfish that aren’t bull reds in December at the pier, these fish will be sure to please everyone who eats them.
4, 6-ounce redfish steaks
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2-teaspoon sesame oil
1/4-cup peanut oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons red-pepper flakes
3/4-teaspoon grated ginger
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients except the redfish. Place the fish in large, re-sealable bag. Pour marinade in the bag. Force all air from bag, and seal. Marinate for 1 to 2 hours in refrigerator. Preheat on your grill. Place the fish on the hot grill, and brush fish with some of the marinade. Discard the rest of the marinade. Cook over high heat for 4 to 5 minutes per side until done.