Spring fishing is finally here and so are the fish that go with it!
The Sheepshead fishing really turned on about two weeks ago. Most anglers fishing Perdido pass and the piers have had no problem catching good numbers of Sheepshead. Most have been using Fiddler crabs and shrimp. The Sheepshead bite should remain good for two to three more weeks before the fish start to scatter and larger fish move back offshore.
Also inshore are good numbers of Redfish and the Speckled Trout bite is picking up as well. Redfish are being caught on pretty most inshore structure right now including piers and inland jetties. Live Shrimp, Finger Mullet or Bull Minnows are all great baits as well as fresh cut mullet and shrimp imitating artificials. Speckled Trout will hit most of these baits as well along with top water lures, twitchbaits like the 17MR and 18MR Mirrolures and Paul Brown SoftDine. Expect the Trout to feed along the shallower flats in the mornings and retreating to deeper water during the day along Ole River, Big lagoon and parts of the intercoastal. Once water temps warm up a bit, Larger Specks will start running the troughs just off of the beaches. Look for water temps in the low to mid 70s for good action with large beach-running Trout.
The Pompano light switch was just flipped and the Pompano are here in big numbers along with a good average size. You can fish for Pomps around the mouths of both Perdido Pass and West Pass along with the Gulf State Park Fishing Pier. The best baits will be Sand fleas, fresh dead shrimp and ghost shrimp. Pompano will also take bright colored jigs fished just beyond the breakers or jigged around pier and bridge pilings. Orange and Pink have been the best colors.
Spanish Mackerel are here in ample supply, but the Kings are still a no-show. Water temps just offshore have varied between 65-67 degrees, just on the cool side for King Macks. I expect the Kings to move in within the next week or so. We have a warm forecast ahead of us which should push the water temps to 68 and above.
The first Cobia of the 2014 migration were caught this past week and the fish are coming on strong. Wilson Gregory caught the first Cobia for the Gulf State Park Pier yesterday and many more were sighted or hooked. We have some rough seas forecasted for the weekend as well as some heavy rain which will curb the fishing pressure a bit, but the run should remain strong for at least a few more weeks before slowly tapering off as the fish start to take up residence on offshore structures and rigs. The tried and true baits and lures will work of course with live Eels and larger baitfish being top choices for larger fish.
Offshore, the shallow water grouper season has opened back up for fish beyond the twenty fathom line. This includes Scamp, Red Grouper and few other species but excludes Gag grouper will remain closed until fall. Triggerfish, Amberjack, all species of Snapper besides Red and all deep water species of Grouper are open to harvest.
The bluewater bite is getting more reliable for those limited by range. The Tuna bite at rigs such as Ram Powell, Marlin and Beer Can. Good numbers of both Yellowfin and Blackfin Tuna were caught in the past two weeks in these areas, mostly by chunking. I suggest subscribing to an online satellite imaging service such as Hilton's Realtime Navigator for picking the better windows to make the long runs. Wahoo are still being taken around rigs and natural bottom between the 50 and 100 fathom lines further to the SW. Trolling deep diving plugs, skirted ballyhoo and live baiting are all productive methods.
I have done a healthy amount of bottom fishing over the past few weeks, mostly for Amberjack, Vermillion Snapper, Triggerfish and Scamp on shallower structures in 110' or so. I've had some great catches on these trips, but haven't been able to do any long runs until Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Kasey and I joined one of our reps and fished with Captain George Mitchell aboard George's 36ft Yellowfin Snake Dancer. We left Dauphin Island at 6:30 or so and headed SW to get bait and do some Wahoo fishing before breaking out the electrics and doing some deep dropping for Golden Tilefish. At our bait stop, we put some Blue Runners (Hardtails) in the livewell and also got lucky with a Cobia for the box. We hooked one Wahoo at our first spot before trying a couple others with no luck. We switched gears and put some very nice Golden Tilefish in the box before heading further East to try a couple of my spots for Wahoo. We ended up hooking five more Wahoo, landing three between 40 and 65lbs. In the end we had a very nice box of fish and I can't wait to make the haul out again.
Don't forget, our 3rd Annual Pomp Stomp, Pompano fishing tournament is going on throughout the month of April and registration is $25.00. For additional info, feel free to call the store.
Sam's Bait and Tackle
27122 Canal Rd
Orange Beach, Al 36561
Wahoo and Tilefish from Tuesday trip along with Wilson Gregory's Cobia, the first one landed on the Gulf State Park Pier in 2014