Right now, pompano, whiting and flounder are hanging around in the usual spots along the sandbar, usually the first one closest to the breaking surf. Those breakers stir up the bottom, and sand fleas, ghost shrimp and other invertebrates are easy pickings for the fish.
Orange Beach and Gulf Shores have several tackle shops that stock tools you’ll need to scoop up sand fleas (mole crabs) and a pump to slurp ghost shrimp out of the surf. The ghost shrimp extruders are made out of PVC pipes that suction the crustaceans out of their holes in the sand. If you find the right spots, it won’t take long with the extruder to get enough ghost shrimp to last the fishing trip. If you’re having trouble catching your own bait, head to the tackle shops and grab some frozen sand fleas if they have them or some fresh dead shrimp. Pinch off a bit of the shrimp, peel it and stab it onto the hook. Almost everybody fishing the surf these days adds a little square of Fish Bites for added enticement.
Most surf anglers use a double-hook rig with the lightest pyramid weight allowed, depending on the surf and current conditions. If you can get by with a one-ounce sinker, go with that as long as the sinker remains stationary. Go up in sinker size if it starts rolling around in the surf. A 1/0 or #1 hook size is usually best for pompano. You can use either a bait hook or a circle hook. Whiting rarely exceed two pounds, so you use lighter tackle if the whiting bite is on.
Scouting is important for surf fishing. Look for water and surf conditions that the fish prefer. Clearer water allows the fish to easily spot a meal in the surf. Also, look for the darker water, which indicates more depth, and look for any irregular features in the sandbar where the predator fish like to ambush their prey.