What's Biting Report: Near Shore Fishing Heats Up in Fall on Alabama Gulf Coast
Boy, is it a good time to be an angler on the Alabama Gulf Coast, especially if you don't like to get out of the sight of terra firma.
When fall arrives on the Gulf Coast, the variety of species that are available for anglers who fish from the surf
to the few miles out is outstanding. The summer species of Spanish mackerel and king mackerel are still around, and plenty of folks are having plenty of luck trolling spoons and cigar minnows for mackerel. But that's just the start. When the first cool front of the year came through a couple of weeks ago, the catches of whiting and pompano in the surf increased significantly, according to Chris Vecsey at Sam's Stop and Shop in Orange Beach. “We weren't catching many pompano until the front in September,” Vecsey said. “Once that water temperature dropped a couple of degrees, we've been catching a lot more pompano. Of course, the whiting bite picked up, too.” For pompano, some anglers are casting pompano jigs in the surf, but Vecsey said the folks who are having the best luck are using bait. “When you're jigging here, you're basically blind-casting because our waters are not quite as clear,” he said. “I personally don't throw jigs unless the water is clear because the fish don't see them as well. I switch over to bait at that point. I use peeled shrimp, ghost shrimp, and sand fleas.” Most bait shops will have plenty of shrimp, as well as frozen sand fleas. Anglers have to catch their own ghost shrimp with a suction pump in the sand at the surf line. The bait shops will have the pumps needed. When Vecsey is on a whiting bite, he uses bits of shrimp on a small hook like a No. 6 Kahle. “I like to fish single-drop rigs,” he said. “You can fish a two-drop rig, but I like the single-drop because I don't lose as much bait. And I'll catch more pompano when I'm using the single-hook rig.” Vecsey said October is always a great month for catching big redfish off the front beach. “With this next front, you'll start seeing more bull reds on the beach and in the (Perdido) Pass,” he said. “If you're fishing off the beach, you can use cut mullet or a live pinfish for the bull reds. “Then the flounder will start stacking up off the beach as well.” For those fishing near shore, a smorgasbord of species has been biting, according to Vecsey. “In the last couple of weeks, they've caught a couple of sailfish and a few dolphin (mahi mahi) within a few miles of beach,” he said. “One charter caught a blackfin tuna just past the 3-Mile Barge. “This is the time of the year when the ballyhoo and other offshore baits come in close. As long we have good, clean water, you never know what pelagic species are going to come close to the beach.”