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John's Journal... Entry 217, Day 2


October Salt-Water Fishing

Editor's Note: You'll find October the best time to go salt-water fishing with children in school, and most people thinking about football and hunting season starting, the beaches generally become deserted. Each fall in October, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach on Alabama's Gulf Coast host the annual Shrimp Festival, featuring food, fun and fishing for me and my family as well as the opportunity to hear bands playing all types of music and to view artwork, sculptures and crafts for free. Very few anglers take advantage of some of the most-productive fishing for speckled trout and redfish by nighttime angling on this section of the Gulf Coast I recently fished with Robert Kritzmire and had an outstanding evening fighting bull reds and catching weighty-speckled trout.

''Just at dark, the spotlights come on, and baitfish gang-up in front of all the docks on Ono Island,'' Kritzmire explains. ''As the baitfish move into the light, the speckled trout and redfish will follow them.'' Several things then happen at the same time. Darkness falls, the baitfish move in toward shore, and the tide begins to run. You see trout splashing on the surface as they attack shrimp, glass minnows and other baitfish. ''Although you can use several baits for the specks, I like large, live shrimp the best,'' Kritzmire says. ''I use 12-pound-test line, a No. 6 hook and a piece of shot lead about 2-feet ahead of the shrimp. The size of the shot lead is determined by the speed of the tide. I'll cast up-current in the dark area ahead of the light and then let the big shrimp swim naturally through the light.

''Usually the little rat reds will move in first, then the bigger redfish and finally the speckled trout. In four hours of fishing, we'll usually catch three or four redfish, many of the redfish over 26-inches long, and often four or five speckled trout.'' When you fish at night for specks and redfish, you don't have to worry about jet skis or other boat traffic on the water. Besides the pluses of fishing in comfortable weather and having fish biting aggressively, fishing at night doesn't interfere with any of the activities of the daytime. Remember that not all the lights will have fish under them. If you're not catching specks and reds at one dock light, then move to another. As you approach the light, stop well away from the dock, and use your trolling motor to approach the area you want to fish. Then ease the anchor over as quietly as possible up-current of the light. Once the anchor holds, let out enough rope to position yourself a good, long cast away from the light. The further you can stay away from the light, the greater your chances for not spooking the fish you're trying to catch.

Do watch out for fish other than speckled trout, redfish and flounder that will eat your bait in the lights at night. Croakers, small mangrove snapper and pinfish often will kill and eat the shrimp, especially until the bigger fish move in and start feeding. That's why I fish a DOA Shrimp, a soft-plastic shrimp that has a weight in it that mimics the swimming action of a live shrimp. I'll cast it up-current and let the shrimp fall and swim through the light. This way, even if undesirable fish hit the shrimp, they won't kill or destroy my bait. And, if the mangrove snapper take the bait, most of the time you'll find that any snapper big enough to get hooked by the DOA Shrimp, is large enough to keep. October means great snapper fishing when the wind doesn't blow, and the seas don't become rough. If the snapper boats can't go out, you must then fish in the protected bays, inlets and rivers for redfish and specks.

To learn more about how, when, where and on what to catch speckled trout and redfish at night fishing around the docks, contact Robert Kritzmire at (850) 458-3473. For more information on fishing in the Orange Beach/Gulf Shores area, call Stacey Tatum at (877) 783-3474, e-mail jmurphy@gulftel.com. or go to www.alabamadeepseafishing.com. Also, contact the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitor's Bureau at (800) 745-7263 or go to www.alabamatravel.org or www.orangebeach.com.




Check back each day this week for more about FISHING AT ORANGE BEACH - THE SALT-WATER FISHING CAPITAL ...

Day 1 - Charter-Boat Fishing At Orange Beach
Day 2 - October Salt-Water Fishing
Day 3 - Fishing On Orange Beach
Day 4 - Catch The Kings
Day 5 - Bet On The Jacks And Other Salt-Water Fish

John's Journal