Fantastic Pier Fishing for Numerous Species on the Gulf of Mexico at Gulf Shores, Alabama, for $8 a Day
Specks, Reds, Sheepshead and Flounder from the Middle of the Pier
Editor’s Note: After the destruction of the old Gulf State Park Pier at Gulf Shores, Alabama, by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, Alabama’s pier anglers eagerly awaited the development of the new pier. In July, 2009, the new 1/4-mile-long Gulf State Park Pier opened. For $8 for a daily fishing permit (children under 12 accompanied by a paying customer fish for free), anglers can enjoy 2,448 feet of fishing space along the pier’s rails, as well as the pier’s other amenities.
Anglers in the middle of the pier generally fish for speckled trout, redfish, flounder and sheepshead. The columns of the pier concentrate the baitfish and the game fish move in close to the pier to feed on the baitfish. The middle-of-the-pier anglers often will fish live bait, like live shrimp, fresh dead shrimp, bull minnows, live pinfish or crushed crab. Oftentimes the best bait for the speckled trout is live shrimp suspended 2- to 3-feet below a cork and cast out from the pier. Pinfish and live croakers also are favored baits of speckled-trout fishermen. Artificial-bait fishermen usually will fish grubs and jigs by twitching or steady retrieving these baits in the various water columns to catch the speckled trout.
These same baits will produce redfish, but to catch the flounder, you generally will use live bull minnows, grubs and jigs. The flounder prefer to stay close to the bottom and the columns of the pier. At this time of year, as the flounder move from the back-bay areas and out into the open Gulf of Mexico, they’ll concentrate around the pier pilings because that’s where the bait’s concentrated. Although the flounder are caught throughout the year, October seems to be the best month to catch the most flounder in the shortest time, since the flounder will be holding in shallow water, until the weather cools and forces them out to the deep water in the Gulf of Mexico.
Bull reds will take almost anything. They prefer either live menhaden, live croakers or live shrimp, but they will eat artificial baits, like grubs and jigs. The bull reds have already started to move in during early October, and the Gulf Shores and the Orange Beach areas have tremendous fall runs of bull reds, weighing from 10- to 20-pounds each and sometimes even up to 30 pounds. As the weather cools, the sheepshead will gather around the pier and its pilings. Although when they’re really hungry, sheepshead will eat almost any bait, generally one of the most-productive baits seems to be fresh, dead shrimp. Many anglers will buy live shrimp, pinch the heads off the shrimp and then bait with pieces of the fresh, dead shrimp.
“One of the advantages of fishing the pier here at Gulf Shores is that there’s always something to catch,” Pete Aguon, one of the pier’s regulars, says. “When one species of fish moves out, another species of fish moves in. Even in the dead of winter, we still have plenty of fish to catch, and the weather’s mild.” During the winter months, whiting (ground mullet) usually can be caught on the end of the pier near the breakers. In the fall and the spring, when the pompano are running the beach, this near-shore fishery can produce some delicious-tasting pompano. Luckily, the fish around the Gulf State Park Pier don’t know where they’re supposed to be. Big redfish have been caught near shore, in the middle of the pier and on the end of the pier. The same is true of speckled trout. This past week in early October, I saw a cobia caught in the middle of the pier. Regardless of which part of the pier you choose to fish, your odds of catching lots of fish are still good.
For more information on the Gulf State Park Pier, call (251) 967-FISH (3474), or visit http://www.alapark.com/GulfState/Gulf%20State%20Park%20Pier/. Check out www.gulfshores.com and type ‘pier’ in the search box to read articles on fishing the new pier and much-more information, including pier-fishing tactics. For motel reservations and restaurant suggestions, contact Alabama Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-745-SAND (7263), or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.gulfshores.com. An affordable motel that offers a pool and a workout room is the Microtel Inn. Call (251) 967-3000, or visit www.microtelinn.com/MicrotelInn/control/Booking/property_info?propertyId=28397&brandInfo=MT.
Tomorrow: Day or Night, Fishing and Eating Is At Its Best on the Alabama State Park Pier