The 2nd Annual Pier Rats Picnic, held on Alabama’s Gulf State Park Pier at Gulf Shores, Alabama, the last weekend in April, was a huge success, with more than 155 people in attendance. There also was a king mackerel tournament at the pier in the morning before the picnic and another one in the afternoon after the picnic. The morning tournament produced 10 king mackerel, with the heaviest king mackerel weighing 23 p
ounds, and the afternoon tournament produced six king mackerel.
“Last month, more than 1,000 king mackerel were caught from Alabama’s Gulf State Park Pier,” says Pete Aguon, the unofficial mayor of the pier. “In that number, more than 15 king mackerel were caught that weighed 30-plus-pounds each. The inshore bites have been really strong. The speckled trout have shown-up consistently, and we’ve had a few brought-in that weighed about 5 pounds. The pompano made a strong run just ahead of the cold front that came through last week. The water has cleared-up, and the visibility has improved tremendously. So, this should be a productive week for catching pompano. The flounder bite has been slow, but the major influx of flounder from offshore hasn’t yet arrived. According to my records, the flounder should arrive some time this week, and when they come in to the pier, the flounder fishing will be fantastic. We’ve had a good run of
Spanish mackerel, with some of them weighing more than 6-1/2-pounds each. We’re catching slot-sized reds that are feeding on huge schools of alewives (LYs) and mullet. The reds are being caught from the surf line to the end of the pier.”
The real story at the Gulf State Park Pier is the highly-productive king mackerel fishing there. When state and local officials first conceived the idea of a super-long concrete pier, many believed and hoped that this new pier would be the gateway to the king mackerel and the redfish that inhabited Alabama’s Gulf Coast that often were too-far out to be caught from the beach or the jetties. Since the new pier was built, those far-sighted fishermen’s dreams have come true. “We’re catching numbers of king mackerel off the pier this year, the most I’ve ever seen,” Aguon says. Most of the king mackerel are being caught on whole, dead cigar minnows, live LYs and pinfish. “We’ve had a mixed bag about what the kings are eating each day,” Aguon explains. “Some days they’ll only take whole, dead cigar minnows, and the next day they may only want live bait. So, if you plan to catch king mackerel, make sure you have both types of bait.” A king mackerel rod is generally 7-1/2- to 8-feet long with a spinning reel that has the line capacity to hold 250 yards of 16-pound-test line. “Twenty-pound-test line is as heavy as you can get away with and still catch the kings,” Aguon mentions. “But most of the pier rats (anglers who fish regularly on the Gulf State Park Pier) stay with 15-pound-test line.”
Anglers use No. 2/0 4X strong treble hooks wired to 27-pound-test wire leader that’s about 1- to 3-feet long and attached to a barrel swivel, with the other end of the swivel tied
to 16-pound-test line. The catching has been unbelievable using this type of tackle. Right now, one of the hottest fishing spots on Alabama’s Gulf Coast is the Gulf State Park Pier. The fishing is inexpensive, and there are plenty of Pier Rats there who can show you when and how to fish and help you land the fish you catch. For a great day in the sun and an opportunity to catch a giant king mackerel, a delicious-tasting flounder or a hard-fighting speckled trout, head to Alabama’s Gulf State Park Pier this weekend.
To learn more about fishing the Gulf State Park Pier, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, call 251-948-7275. For more information about fishing guides and charter boats, lodging accommodations, restaurants and entertainment on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, call 800-745-SAND (7263), or visit www.orangebeach.com