The coastal species will head into deeper water as the water temperatures fall into the 50s to find more stable temps. Look for deeper holes and channels of the rivers and estuaries for the winter hangouts for most fish.
The cooler weather will send the bait into the rivers and estuaries as well. Speckled trout and redfish follow the migration of shrimp into those same areas.
Like a DOA shrimp or Vudu shrimp, shrimp imitation lures can work well in the winter, but it takes a different fishing technique. Winter fishers often cast the bait out and let the current carry the bait into the strike zone while keeping the rod tip dead still.
A light line of eight to ten pounds is crucial for cool-weather fishing. Tie the shrimp imitation directly to your line without a cork or any added weight. If the current is a little slack, another technique is to let the lure slowly sink and watch your line for any twitch that might indicate a bite. As the bait slowly sinks, let twitch and descend. Take your time because the fish are usually a little sluggish and won't do much chasing.
If conditions are right, surf fishing can be productive before the weather gets too cold. Whiting, also known as Gulf kingfish, runs the shoreline during early winter and will take bits of fresh dead shrimp with a little square of Fish Bites cast in the surf on the front beach. By the time January rolls around, the fish have headed back into a little deeper, warmer water.
Just a note of caution when you're inshore or surf fishing, and you hook either a Southern flounder or a Gulf flounder (more likely on the beach), immediately release the fish unharmed. The flounder season is closed to both commercial and recreational anglers for the entire month of November to protect the fish migrating to the Gulf of Mexico to spawn.
It may not be flip-flop weather, but you can still catch fish on the beautiful Alabama Gulf Coast in cooler weather with the proper techniques and a good deal of patience.
If you’re dreaming of catching some great coastal fish, start planning your next fishing trip to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach today!