Gulf State Park Pier
A Part Of The What's Biting Series
Fishing action along the Alabama Gulf Coast appears ready to break loose.
“This week, we have been on standby,” said John Giannini of J&M Tackle, an avid pier fisherman, last Friday. “With all the rain we’ve had in the past few weeks, the water is a little muddy, so we’re waiting on it to move out.”
Anglers at Gulf State Park Pier and along Alabama’s white-sand beaches got a little preview of the action that should be in full swing this week.
“Two weeks ago, when the water was nice and clear along the pier and along the beach, we got our first good signs of Spanish mackerel starting to come through,” Giannini said.
“Looking at the long-range forecast and the east wind we’re about to have, this rainy weather may be behind us for a little while.
Whiting and pompano are starting to show up in the surf, according to Gianni, and the sheepshead bite is still in full force at the jetties at Perdido Pass, the Intracoastal Waterway and the structures in the lower end of Mobile Bay. He said the sheepshead bite at Gulf State Park Pier has been somewhat hit and miss lately.
“There has also been six or seven cobia along the beach even though the water conditions are not the best,” he said. “And there have been a handful of speckled trout caught off the pier as well as a few pompano and whiting.”
Giannini said last week’s neap tides made for difficult fishing, but it looks like the fishing should flourish along the Alabama coast this week.
“It’s all coming together,” he said. “Those folks coming to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach for Mobile County’s spring break should have a good week of fishing.”
As far as bait is concerned, Giannini said most of the sheepshead are being caught on small live shrimp rigged on Carolina rig with a slip shot from ¼ to 1 ounce of lead, depending on the current. The folks fishing for pompano and whiting along the beach are using small pieces of shrimp and shrimp-flavored Fish Bites.
“A couple of years ago, a snowbird came into the shop and asked if we had any Fish Bites,” Giannini said. “I told him I didn’t know what he was talking about. He told me I needed to get some because they work. I got some in and everybody is ranting about how well they work.
“People are taking a bit of shrimp about the size of the fingernail on your pinkie finger and adding a piece of Fish Bites in either pink or orange and using them on the two-hook pompano rigs.”
When fishing for pompano and whiting, casting distance is one of the key components. Farther is not always better.
“The key to fishing the beach is to not overcast,” Giannini said. “Generally, you want to fish between the beach and the first sandbar. If you cast too far, you’re going to be up on the sandbar. You want your bait in 4 to 5 feet of water. You’ll see the color change. You want to cast into the darker water.”
Giannini said the Spanish have been a little on the small side, so anglers have been using bubble rigs with a colored tubing trailer, Gotcha plugs and bucktail jigs.