Spring arrives at Gulf State Park Pier
Part Of The What's Biting Series
As families flock to the Alabama Gulf Coast during spring break, the opportunities to catch fish during the trips continue to increase, especially at the Gulf State Park Pier.
After a cold winter, water temperatures along the coast are starting to rebound to normal levels, which means the fishing should just get better and better, according to John Giannini of J&M Tackle in Orange Beach.
“The first sign of spring happened a few days ago with the first king mackerel showing up, along with cobia,” said Giannini, an avid pier fisherman. “There was one day when there were close to 20 kings caught. So far this spring, four or five cobia have been caught on the pier. A few Spanish (mackerel) are starting to show up, and a few flounder are being caught. We haven’t seen any whiting, yet.”
Because of the chilly water temperatures, the sheepshead fishing didn’t get off to a good start this year.
“Sheepshead fishing was slow in general for the winter,” Giannini said. “It was bad everywhere. But all that has changed in the last week. Wednesday was a spectacular day for sheepshead at the pier.”
Giannini said a cool snap over the weekend shouldn’t be enough to alter his enthusiastic outlook. He just hopes the prevailing currents don’t change along the Alabama Gulf Coast.
“If you look at the long-range forecast, we don’t have any real cold weather,” he said. “We’ve going to have a little cool, but not enough to hurt the water temperatures. The water is gorgeous.
“We just need to watch the prevailing currents. Right now we have a nice east-to-west current. We don’t want a west-to-east current. I was just at my hunting camp and the (Tombigbee) River was very high. With the snow melt up north, there is a lot of cold water coming down the rivers. We don’t want that current to change and push that cold water our way. As long as the current keeps going from east to west, we should be in good shape.”
Currently, live bait is hard to find, especially for those who catch their bait off the pier. That means frozen cigar minnows will have to suffice for the time being.
“Dead-bait fishing is about all we have right now,” Giannini said. “Hopefully, we’ll start seeing alewives, some of the herrings and other live bait show up at the pier in the next week or so. They’re using jigs for the cobia, but the first three cobia that came off the pier were caught on dead bait by people fishing for kings.
“Everything is shaping up to be a great spring as long as the water stays pretty like it is and we keep these nice, sunny days. Hopefully, we’ll have an April for the record books.”
Visit the pier’s website for information about the fishing and opportunities to learn about the Gulf Coast ecosystem on the 1,540-foot pier.