John's Journal...

Fantastic Pier Fishing for Numerous Species on the Gulf of Mexico at Gulf Shores, Alabama, for $8 a Day

Day or Night, Fishing and Eating Is At Its Best on the Alabama State Park Pier

Click to enlargeEditor’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.

The Gulf State Park Pier is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They may doze, but they never close. For $8, you can purchase a daily fishing permit. “The first day the pier opened, I stood in line for 38 minutes to get a ticket to fish the pier,” says Pete Aguon of Robertsdale, Ala., who fishes the pier 6 days a week. “When I finally reached the window to buy my ticket, I told the lady to just give me an annual fishing permit, which is $320. I told her, ‘This is the last time I plan on standing in line to fish the pier,’ and with that annual fishing permit, I can come and go as often as I want.”

Click to enlargeAguon is the unofficial pier reporter. He, David Thornton and other members of the pier fraternity post pictures on the Emerald Coast Pier Fishing blog (, and according to Aguon, the average king mackerel caught off the pier now weighs 14 to 18 pounds. “On Labor Day weekend, we were catching king mackerel weighing up to 26 pounds,” Aguon says. The largest king caught from the pier to date weighed 28 pounds, 6 ounces. On the first Saturday of Labor Day weekend, 37 king mackerel were caught and landed by pier anglers. On the following day, 43 mackerel were caught by pier fishermen. “I weighed every one of those king mackerel during those 2 days, and pier fishermen caught a total of 653-1/2-pounds of king mackerel,” Aguon reports. “We expect to catch redfish year round, but speckled trout is a hit-or-miss catch. However, if the speckled trout are in, you really can catch ‘em. Whiting (ground mullet) and flounder are really good during October and November and can be caught all year on bull minnows and live shrimp.”

If you want to eat some good fish, the regulars at the pier prepare some of the finest mackerel dishes I’ve ever eaten in my life. Tim Fox made a mackerel dish using Pat Huggins’ Legendary Mackerel Salad recipe.

Ms. Pat’s Legendary Mackerel Salad
4-5 pounds filleted fish (no bones, no skin, no blood lines)
1 cup liquid crab boil (you can add more or less, depending on how spicy you want it)
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
6-8 stalks celery, chopped
2 bunches of green onions (including bulb and green part about halfway up), chopped
1 large bottle of ranch dressing
1 bottle golden Vidalia onion dressing
1/2-cup spicy mustard
2 tablespoons of horseradish
2 tablespoons of chopped jalapeño peppers
8 ounces sweet pickle relish
2 tablespoons Mrs. Dash Original
2 tablespoons Tony Chachere’s Seasoning
Salt and pepper
Preparation: Add 1 cup of liquid crab boil and some salt to a large pot of water, and boil. Add fish, and let boil for 20 minutes. Turn off heat, and let the fish sit in the water until it Click to enlargecools. Mix ranch dressing, golden Vidalia dressing, mustard, horseradish, jalapeños and pickle relish. Put fish in a large flat pan, and flake. Pour 1 to 2 cups of the water the fish has been cooked in over the fish to keep it moist. Sprinkle Mrs. Dash, Tony Chachere’s and pepper and salt to taste. In a large bowl, mix fish and veggies, and add the dressing to taste. You may have some dressing left over.

And Ted Suttle brought out some smoked king mackerel dip that had anglers on the pier lined-up with crackers in hand.

Ted Suttle’s Smoked King Mackerel Dip
8 cups broken-up smoked king mackerel
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3-cup sour cream
1/3-cup mayonnaise
1/2-medium onion
8 ounces of jalapeno
2 green onions
1 bundle of celery
1/2-teaspoon cayenne pepper
Click to enlargePreparation: Put all ingredients on a food processor and enjoy! (Note: Suttle puts mustard and blackened seasoning on skinless king mackerel fillets and smokes then in a Smokehouse Little Chief smoker for about 3 hours with hickory chips. Spray the grill with Pam to keep the fillets from sticking.)

If you’re looking for an inexpensive fishing trip and the opportunity to meet some great fishermen and learn how to cook salt-water fish that will have your friends pushing each other from the table on their way to get more, plan a trip soon to Alabama’s Gulf State Park Pier. To keep up with events at the pier, including the fish being caught and delicious recipes, visit

For more information on the Gulf State Park Pier, call (251) 967-FISH (3474), or visit Check out 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, or visit An affordable motel that offers a pool and a workout room is the Microtel Inn. Call (251) 967-3000, or visit

Check back each day this week for more about "Fantastic Pier Fishing for Numerous Species on the Gulf of Mexico at Gulf Shores, Alabama, for $8 a Day"

Day 1: King Mackerel, Cobia, Pompano, Flounder, Spanish Mackerel, Bluefish, Bull Reds and Sailfish for $8 a Day
Day 2: Watch Those Pier Mice Fish
Day 3: The Three Faces of the Pier
Day 4: Specks, Reds, Sheepshead and Flounder from the Middle of the Pier
Day 5: Day or Night, Fishing and Eating Is At Its Best on the Alabama State Park Pier


Entry 530, Day 5