Pier & Shore Fishing Outlook 6/28/23

Pier & Shore Fishing Outlook 6/28/23
By David “The Pierpounder” Thornton

Our weather so far in this active El Nino month has been quite a crazy contrast of extremes. From dry and mild to wet and wild during an unusual outbreak of severe thunderstorms the previous fortnight due to a pesky upper level low pressure system over the southeast states. That really dingied the water and curtailed the catching for a spell.
But things have cleared some again, and we seem to be getting into a more seasonal hotter and slightly drier mode with our diurnal garden variety thundershowers early and late in the day. More sunlight between clouds will allow the water temperature to edge into the middle 80s if winds remain fairly light and the waves stay below three feet. Then things should bode better for shorebound fishing.
Persistence has been the key to success for anglers from the beaches and from the Gulf State Park Pier. Once the water started calming down and clearing some spadefish, whiting, pompano and even a few small flounder (probably males) were landed on the pier. Try small pieces of shrimp suspended under the pier for spadefish, but put shrimp on the bottom for whiting and pompano. Flounder will bite live bull minnows best, while live shrimp are often a waste of money with all the pinfish and small jacks around the pier this time of year. Speckled trout may show up again near the next full moon, but they are difficult to target in the summer, even with live shrimp.
Mackerel (Spanish) should return once the water clears enough to suite them. And even though it may be a while before any more king mackerel are caught from the pier again, we should start seeing more tarpon through early July. “Bull” redfish and jack crevelle are also common catches this time of year, even from the abbreviated end of the pier. Pier fishing generally is a waiting game for fish to bite at some part during the day depending upon the weather and water conditions, and how many baitfish are present around the pier.
The relaunched angler academy has been a hit through June, with neophyte pier anglers catching a wide variety of saltwater fish under the able tutelage of Brayden Paulk. Everything from numerous pinfish and spadefish to prized pompano and spanish mackerel, including inshore rarities like red snapper were landed. With bait, tackle and great advice provided for only $15, even adults and kids with no prior fishing experience can get started on a wondrous journey into saltwater fishing through this program. Classes are held Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 am, 10 am, and 6 pm, and on Sundays at 3:30 pm and 6 pm through mid-August. Info: gulfevents.state park@dcnr.alabama.gov or visit alapark.com.
Catfish were king along the beaches for a while when the water was rough and dingy. But they have thinned out since the water calmed and got clearer. Overall, catching has been on a slow rebound since then, and we may not see much action until near the next full moon the first week of July. Barring another prolonged unsettled weather period, our active fishing period might be interrupted by the next NEAP tide phase around July 9th. Fish often do not feed as much during this period when there is little difference between high and low water levels on the beach each day.
Currents are weaker and fish do not feed as often. That might actually bode better for anglers fishing from the Alabama Point jetty or portions of the seawall still open, when whatever current there is moves for a few hours. Spanish mackerel are the primary target species for these fishermen throwing lures like Gotcha plugs, spoons, and diving lures like Rapala X-Rap. There is still a little space to fish north of the Perdido Pass bridge, mostly for redfish, bluefish, and mangrove snapper. But boat traffic can be brutal there at times, especially during the weekend red snapper openings when the weather is nice.
Some determined anglers prefer to fish around Little Lagoon Pass, as the $15 parking fee discourages a lot of folks from utilizing that venue now. Fishing topwater plugs near daylight or near dark can still garner catches of speckled trout, though ladyfish and bluefish are much more likely this month. Pompano and slot-sized redfish still prowl the beach sandbars outside the mouth of the pass, but stingrays are plentiful, plus Sauerkraut bryozoan (Zoobotryon verticillatum) has been quite a nuisance. Though it looks like algae, it is actually a colony of polyps.
They grow along the bottom, but are unattached to it, so they tend to move about with any current flow often wrapping around fishing line and rigs.
The bryozoan has been aggravating anglers all the way down the Fort Morgan peninsula too. Rendering some days all but impossible to bottomfish. Jack crevelle have been mostly absent from the point near Fort Morgan lately, but may return as the water settles down through the coming weeks. A variety of sharks have been available for beach anglers in south Baldwin County recently, especially Blacktips and Finetooths with some smaller Blacknose along with other larger species.
Recreational shark fishing is growing in popularity, and there are even some beach guides who specialize in the sport. Most shark species are quite robust and lend well to being caught and released as long as proper tackle, handling techniques, and caution are employed. Another reason to use an experienced beach guide for this type of fishing.
The banks along the Intercoastal Waterway between Gulf Shores and Orange Beach offer another enjoyable big game fishery. Large black drum ply these backwaters, and are a favorite target for anglers using medium heavy tackle baited with blue crabs.
That is the primary food source of the big drum which often exceed 36 inches long and weigh over 25 pounds. This is a very laid back fishery, much like beach fishing for bull reds, without the sand or the crowds 😉