Man fishing on the beach in Alabama at sunset

Tackle Box Tips: What To Bring Fishing in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach

Anglers are enjoying a banner year catching fish in the surf along Alabama’s pristine beaches.

Kid surf fishing on the beach in Orange Beach

Pompano, whiting, redfish, black drum are being caught regularly when surf conditions are favorable.

If you are new to this productive pastime, you’ll need to grab a new tackle box and fill it with the equipment you need for a successful trip to the beach.

You’ll need to bring a variety of rods and reels if you want the full experience from 6-foot light action rods to 10-plus-footers to cast heavy weights into deep water. During low tides, the fish will move into deeper water, which means you’ll need more casting distance. At high tide, the fish will be closer to the shoreline, and you won’t have to make a long cast.

In your tackle box, you’ll need several spools of line and leader material. For your largest rig, consider a braided line with 30-pound break strength with a fluorocarbon leader. If the water is clear, the fish can shy from a straight braided line. Then start matching your line with your tackle. For your 7-8-foot rods, try 15-pound monofilament, which will have more stretch than the braided line and allow for good fight. Finally, if you’re brave enough to bring along a light action rod, try a 6-8-pound test monofilament or fluorocarbon line. If the surf is relatively calm, the lighter line will almost always result in more bites.

When it comes to weights, my rule is to always use the least amount of weight for the task at hand. You don’t want your weight to be rolling around in the surf because of the current or wave action. You want it stationary. Some days, that means you can use it. Most surf anglers choose pyramid weights because of the resistance to rolling, but several other types are available, including coin weights and flattened teardrops.

Older couple fishing in Orange Beach

You’ll also need a variety of hooks to target different species of fish. If you’re casting into deeper water, you’ll need an extra strong hook in the 5/0 range that can handle a bull red or big black drum. Choose your hook so that you will be able to cover most of the hook with the bait. That goes for the smaller hooks you’ll need for species like pompano, flounder and whiting. I like a Kahle hook, which has an offset that makes for better hooksets. I usually pick a No. 1 size Kahle for the smaller fish. A lot of surf anglers use circle hooks in a variety of sizes. The circle hook is designed for the fish to hook himself when he grabs the bait and swims off.

Double-drop rigs can be useful at times, but opt for minimal size to keep from spooking the fish. Fresh dead shrimp can be used, but if you can scoop up sand fleas or suction up some ghost shrimp, those are the best baits available. To add a little color and enticement, add a strip of Fish Bites or Fish Gum.

If you’re an angler who prefers artificial lures, grab a variety and colors of pompano jigs to cast in the surf and hop it along the bottom.

The tackle shops on the Alabama Gulf Coast – J&M Tackle, Sam’s Stop and Shop, Hooked Up and Top Gun Tackle – can offer assistance in all your surf fishing needs.

Grab your rods and head to Alabama’s beautiful beaches for a fun day fishing the surf.


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David Rainer Blogger
David Rainer (2 Posts)
David Rainer has written about the great outdoors on the Alabama Gulf Coast for more than 20 years. For 14 of those years, he covered the many fishing opportunities on the Gulf Coast as outdoors…