Fall Fishing: What You Can Expect to Catch
A Part Of The What's Biting Series
Going, going, gone. At least that’s what the anglers who fish at the Gulf State Park Pier hope happens to the summer weather pattern that has everyone anticipating the refreshing autumn cool-down.
A small cool front pushed through the area over the weekend, and that should give fishermen a renewed enthusiasm about what the next weeks should hold.
“Right now we’re still in a summer lull with a few Spanish being caught and a few speckled trout,” said John Giannini, an avid pier fisherman who also is the J in J&M Tackle in Orange Beach. “Everybody is waiting on a little bit of cooler weather so the mackerel with get into their fall migratory run.”
With overnight lows dipping to around the 60-degree mark last weekend, Giannini hopes it’s a harbinger of great fishing weather to come.
“That little front that came through, I hope that was the turning point for the fall,” he said. “Hopefully we won’t be seeing any more 90-degree days. If we can keep the highs in the mid 80s and the lows in the 60s and get the humidity out of here, it should spark the fall fishing pretty good.”
What the fall weather brings is an abundance of baitfish that will congregate near the pier and provide anglers with a ready supply of one of the best live bait on the northern Gulf Coast – alewives.
“The main thing that people will focus on in the fall is that we start to get all the baby alewives come in,” Giannini said. “When people start to fish for those big Spanish mackerel, the top bait are the baby alewives, which will be from 1 ½ to 3 inches long. That’s just a fun method of fishing, using the small baits under a small float to catch the Spanish.”
Giannini said anglers will have to change their tackle to catch the smaller alewives. He said the standard bait ribbons pier fishermen use during the summer will have to put in storage for a while.
“You’re going to have to drop down to bait ribbon that has half-inch square mesh rather than a one-inch square mesh that we use on the bigger baits,” he said. “And the best place to catch the baby alewives is right in the surf. I recommend taking a five-gallon bucket to the surf; cast your ribbon bait until you put a couple of dozen alewives in the bucket. Then go out on the pier and have fun.”
Giannini said the speckled trout bite hasn’t been restricted to the traditional low-light periods of at dawn and dusk.
“Surprising, there have been trout caught some during the daytime, too,” he said. “It hasn’t been a whole lot, but they’re starting to show some activity. It should get better with the cooler weather.”
Giannini is not a proponent of heavy tackle for fishing the pier. He suggests using tackle suitable for bass fishing because it is much easier to use and will often catch just as many fish. He said any baitcasting or spinning reel capable of holding at least 150 yards of 12-pound-test line is suitable to catch the majority of the fish available at the pier.
Fishing and pier licenses are required on Gulf State Park Pier. Visit AlaPark.com/GulfState for more information.