Author’s Note: Alabama’s Gulf Coast experienced a lot of wind, rain, crashing waves and high water last week with Hurricane Isaac. To find out what fishing should be like this week, we’ve talked with two captains and a representative from the Gulf State Park Pier at Gulf Shores, Ala.
Captain Bobby Walker of the “Summer Breeze II,” out of Zeke’s Marina in Orange Beach, Ala., explains, “Usually after a hurricane, we have really good fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. The bottom gets stirred-up, and the fish go on a feeding frenzy. Another advantage to a hurricane is that we often get more grouper blown into the Alabama Gulf Coast. The fish get moved around quite a bit with the storms. In 1985, we had a hurricane that came out of Clearwater,Florida, and a grouper jubilee occurred. Anytime our area gets a storm that comes from the south or the southeast, those winds usually push numbers of grouper onto the Alabama Coast. Now when the winds come from the west, they usually carry our red snapper down toward Florida. We often have a big redistributing of reef fish with high winds.
Not only will the bottom fishing be good but also other offshore fishing. The yellowfin tuna bite should be good, as should the marlin and the wahoo bite. Fall is one of the best times of the year to come to Orange Beach, Ala., to bottom fish and offshore fish, especially right after a hurricane. We’re catching a lot of grouper, scamp, vermilion snapper and white snapper.” To learn more, call 251-747-3575 or 251-981-6159, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.bobbywalker.com.
Captain Gary Davis of Tidewater Fishing Service in Magnolia Springs, Ala., has been fishing the rivers, the back bays and the front beaches on Alabama’s Gulf Coast all his life. “Most people don’t realize that when our area gets a big storm like Isaac coming through, that wind and water blows the shrimp and the baitfish out of the marshes and the grass and down the rivers and creeks, and dumps all that bait into the bays. Usually, within a week after a major storm, speckled trout, redfish and flounder go on a feeding spree. That fishing bonanza usually happens 2 or 3 days after the water clears-up.
“One of the advantages we have fishing inshore on Alabama’s Gulf Coast is that we have protected waters that we can fish, regardless of the weather. This week I’ll be taking my parties to Little Lagoon on the west side of Highway 59 to fish there. However, the fishing on the gulf side, where the water from Little Lagoon empties into the Gulf of Mexico also should be productive. The reason Little Lagoon is such good fishery, especially in bad weather, is because it doesn’t have any run-off water pouring into it. The water that does come into Little Lagoon doesn’t bring much sediment with it. So, the lagoon has fairly-clear water and is a haven for speckled trout, redfish, flounder and white trout. When the gulf and the bays are muddy, Little Lagoon is the cleanest water we have to fish.
“I’m hoping the storm pushed some more flounder into Little Lagoon. Normally, when we have a storm like Isaac, 2- to 4-pound flounder will gang-up at the mouth of the Little Lagoon Pass. Little Lagoon has a lot of slot redfish 16 to 26 inches in length at this time of the year. My favorite lures to fish with in Little Lagoon are chartreuse Finesse baits and Berkley Gulp! in the new 3-inch penny shrimp color. Usually, we catch speckled trout that will weigh 2-7 pounds each during September there. I’m expecting fishing to be fantastic this week.” To contact Captain Gary Davis, call 251-942-6298.
Gulf State Park Pier Report:
Mike Guinn, the assistant superintendent of the Gulf State Park, which includes the Gulf State Park Pier in Gulf Shores, Ala., reports that, “The pier had very little damage from the storm. We lost a rail off the end of the pier, the top rail of the side of the center part of the pier and a couple of panels popped up at a slight angle.” Realizing this pier would have to face continuous pounding year after year from hurricanes, the new pier was built of concrete to stand up to the fury of storms. The deck of the pier was made of long wooden replaceable panels. When the maintenance crew at the pier learned that Isaac was headed for the Alabama Gulf Coast, they went in and closed the pier and removed 300 of the wooden panels before the storm hit to prevent the panels from being destroyed. At this writing, the panels are being replaced, and the pier should be open sometime this first week in September, possibly as early as Labor Day weekend. “Since we can remove the panels from the pier before a storm hits, we can save time and money by replacing the same panels that we’ve removed,” Guinn says.
Plan a trip to the pier this week. Call 251-967-3474 to learn more. Traditionally, as soon as the anglers can get out on the end of the pier after a big storm, often the big bull redfish will be waiting on them. Then you’ll see bent rods all around the end of the pier. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama, are wide open this week, and the fishing is red hot. So, plan to come fish with us, and get in on this fishing bonanza.
Images courtesy John Phillips/Night Hawk Productions