Editor’s Note: Trying to guess what the weather will be on a day you want to go fishing is much like betting on a roulette wheel, because there are so many variables that determine what the weather will be on any given day, that the weatherman doesn’t really have a chance to accurately predict it. But the good news is, on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, regardless of the weather, there’s always a place to fish. The captains and guides there watch the weather daily and study weather patterns as religiously as a meteorologist. They often can turn a no-fishing day into a great fishing day. This is what happened a couple of weeks ago when I’d planned an inshore trip with my son-in-law and grandson. We were all excited about getting to fish together, but the weather report that evening seemed to doom our trip. However, on the morning we were to fish, we created a memory that will last a lifetime, and you can too.
My son-in-law, Joe Hudson, and my grandson, Conner Hudson, of Birmingham, Ala., met me in Gulf Shores on Saturday afternoon for a day of inshore fishing with Captain Gary Davis of Tidewater Fishing in Magnolia Springs, Ala., the following morning. That night before we went to bed, we called Davis to make sure we could go fishing on Sunday. “The weatherman is calling for a 30-mile-an-hour wind coming out of the east today and 10- to 11-foot seas in the Gulf,” Davis told us. “I had planned to fish in Mobile Bay near Fort Morgan, but with that much wind and waves, we are not going to be able to fish there. But I have been fishing in Little Lagoon lately, which is on the west side of Gulf Shores. However, if we get a 30-mile-an-hour east wind, Little Lagoon will be unfishable, because this body of water lies east to west.”
I knew all of us would be disappointed if we did not get to go fishing, so I asked Davis about fishing the Intracoastal Waterway, because I knew it contained protected waters. “Yes, we can fish there, but the fish are not holding in the Intracoastal Waterway right now,” Davis explained. “I get up at 3:00 am every morning and drive to the places that I plan to fish that day. If the weather is too rough, I call my party at 4:00 am and tell them we need to cancel due to the weather. But if the weather looks like it will be okay to fish, I tell them to get their stuff and come to where I am. In the morning I’ll go to Little Lagoon boat ramp. If the weather’s too rough, I’ll call and let you know, and you can go back to sleep. But if I think we can fish, I’ll tell you to get your stuff and come on and meet me.”
We all went to bed that night not expecting to be able to go fishing on Sunday morning, but when the phone rang at 4:00 am, Davis said, “Get your fishing stuff, and come on.” We arrived at Little Lagoon, and the water was slick as glass. Davis had a big grin on his face. “I can’t believe this weather! When I got down here at 3:00 am, there was a north wind. The north wind flattens the waves in the Little Lagoon and calms the water. Out on the beach, there’s 8- to 10-foot seas. But here in the Little Lagoon, we should have a good day for fishing.”
We fished from 5:00 am until 11:00 am and caught 26 speckled trout, most weighing from 2 to 4-1/2 pounds. We also caught one flounder. The trout were biting a gr
ub called a Finesse in a green back with a pearl belly and glitter throughout the plastic. The grub was braided on a 1/4-ounce lead-headed jig with an exposed hook. Later in the morning when the sun came up, we took the Finesse grub off the jighead and fished with live croakers. One of the big advantages you have when you are fishing with a guide on a charter trip is that he knows how to fish and where to fish to catch the trout. My son-in-law looked at me and said, “You know if we had the finest boat and some of the best tackle that we could buy, we could drive all over Little Lagoon and still would not know where or how to catch the fish. But Captain Davis took us right to the spot where the fish were biting, and he had the bait and the tackle that we needed to use to catch the fish.”
This fishing trip was a family fishing trip mainly for my grandson, 11-year-old Conner Hudson. Every time Davis would hook a trout he would say, “Get back here, Conner, you have a fish on the line.” Davis would pass the rod to Conner, who would fight the fish all the way up to the boat, until Davis netted the trout. Conner caught the most and the biggest fish of anyone on our trip. “When I take youngsters fishing, I make sure they catch fish,” Davis says. “Last week, I had a granddad, an aunt and an 11-year-old niece. The 11-year-old caught a 9-pound speckled trout and two that weighed 7-1/2-pounds.” Later in the morning, around 10:30 am, the wind switched from the north to blowing from the east, and the waters of the Little Lagoon became choppy. Before the weather got too rough to fish, we had caught all our fish and were headed back to the dock. We came home with a boat-load of memories and good times of fishing at Gulf Shores that will last a lifetime. For more info about fishing with Captain Gary Davis, you can contact him at 251-942-6298.
The Orange Beach Fishing Association (www.orangebeachfishingassociation.com
) will be glad to find you and your family a captain and a boat that fits your needs. The good news is that you don’t have to leave your wife and children at home when you visit Alabama’s Gulf Coast. There’s plenty to do and see. For accommodation and restaurant recommendations, contact Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism at 800-745-SAND, or visit www.orangebeach.com
. To have your fresh fish prepared at the beach, go to www.gulfshores.com
, click on restaurants, and check the box for “Will Cook Your Catch.”
Grilled Maple-Flavored Speckled Trout
For a different-tasting speckled trout that’s salty, sweet and peppered, prepare this dish on your grill to wow all your guests.
4 speckled trout fillets
1 cup soy sauce
1-1/2-cups maple syrup
Coarse black pepper
Marinate the speckled trout fillets in soy sauce and maple syrup for 24 hours in the refrigerator. Coat the fillets in coarse black pepper, and place on a hot grill, preferably a fish basket. Do not overcook. Grill according to the thickness of the fillets. Medium-thick fillets will need 7 to 8 minutes on each side to cook. Serves 4 adults.