Pier & Shore Fishing Outlook 8/9/23

Pier & Shore Fishing Outlook 8/9/23
By David “The Pierpounder” Thornton

Daylight hours decrease a little each day through summer. The days are already more than 30 minutes shorter than a month ago and will lose about 20 minutes more during this fortnight. The general rainfall pattern has remained abnormally inconsistent due to predominant high pressure to our southwest making for a lack of sea breeze/landbreeze interaction.
But that trend may finally begin shifting as the Atlantic trade-winds appear poised to make an appearance as is more typical for the more active part of the hurricane season. The tropics could become a little more active, at least for more typical thundershower type activity. Meanwhile, winds and seas have remained slight, and the water in the Gulf has remained generally clear. Dark moon phases through this fortnight should encourage more fish to feed in the daytime though the water temperature remains near the seasonal maximum (above 85°).
Early and late in the day has been the trend for anglers fishing from the beaches near Fort Morgan for some time now. Blitzes of ladyfish, bluefish, spanish mackerel, and jack crevelle are the mainstay of the coastal action in southern Baldwin County and Perdido Key. This pattern of feeding activity around morning high tides and evening low tides has been reinforced by the lack of synoptic wind flow for most of the summer. Besides the feeding flurries at either end of the day, fishing, or rather catching for shore bound anglers has been spot at best.
Throwing lures like spoons and plugs at dawn will remain the best bet for anglers. There have been some speckled trout, flounder, redfish in the surf and around the inlets. Even a few decent pompano have been caught fishing the outer slope of beach sandbars, mostly using ghost shrimp on stealthy single drop rigs. Much like a mid-winter presentation, it is best to thread the ghost shrimp on a #4 kahle single hook and wrap it with Magic Thread. The thin, elastic thread can be wound around the ultra soft ghost shrimp to help keep it on the hook when casting. It usually is not very long before it gets eaten because there are just so many small to medium sized fish in the surfzone this time of year. That makes it difficult to target pompano with natural bait.
Some anglers still use shrimp, but like in winter, the fresher the better, even if you have to kill it yourself. Fortunately small live shrimp are often plentiful this time of year, and they work great for pompano, whiting, and mangrove snapper. Mangroves are commonly found near hard structure in the Gulf and lower estuaries, though catching legal sized ones tend be more of a challenge. But they offer plenty of action for determined anglers who are geared up properly. The Alabama creel limit of 10 (12 inches or more total length) is really quite liberal even if it is not easily attainable for shorebound fishermen.
Spanish mackerel have still been inconsistent catches at the Gulf State Park Pier this summer. Once young-of-the-year herring (two to three inch long baitfish called LYs) begin congregating around the pier, the action usually gets more consistent. Though we will have to see if that action also attracts more sharks to the pier.. Anglers using the popular Bubble rigs seem to have more issues with sharks which shadow their Bubble rig in pursuit of mackerel chasing the lure. Both are drawn to the loud splash made by the Bubble rig. Ways around that are to either use a fast sinking jig or Gotcha plug which doesn’t make as much noise, or use the small live baitfish which the sharks typically ignore. Bluefish and ladyfish are common by-catch using these methods, and those provide plenty of action for pier anglers along with occasional flounder, speckled trout, and redfish.
Spadefish are still available at times from the pier, though not as consistent as they were earlier in the summer. Young anglers using a tiny piece of shrimp on light tackle can still catch a myriad of species from the pier this time of year. It is not unusual to catch up to ten different species of fish in just a few hours with this method.
Fishermen on the Perdido Pass seawall will still have to wait a little longer before the park west of the bridge has been completed. But the facility is coming along nicely and looking great. In the meantime, anglers can still fish north of the bridge in the area that has remained open. Over-sized redfish can be caught there on live baitfish like pinfish, mullet and “LYs”. Lures will produce ladyfish, bluefish and spanish mackerel, while small live baits (like bull minnows and shrimp) can garner mangrove snapper and flounder among with lots of by-catch.
Anglers can still use the Little Lagoon Pass Park before the dredging operation gets cranks up next month. Speckled trout, flounder, white trout, croaker, redfish, bluefish, ladyfish and mangrove snapper are common catches in or near the pass, day and night. Wade fishing with lures is a great way to catch these fish, but keep a wary eye out for stingrays and stinging jellyfish. Yes, they are back as is typical for mid summer. Topwater plugs offer a fun way to seek out speckled trout at the beginning or end of the day.
Use a sinking MirrOdine, silver spoon or some other lure when the sun is out, however. Mangrove snapper and flounder prefer live minnows, but live shrimp will quickly be destroyed by the legions of ravenous pinfish that infest the pass. Wade fishing while casting small jigs is another productive way to catch gamefish and minimize the bycatch of pinfish. You can even add a small inch long strip of Fishbites to the hook for flavor.
Whiting are especially vulnerable to being caught with this method once you locate the feeding zone for a school. Sight-feeding fish like these on light tackle in waist deep (clear) water is so much fun, and a great way to beat the heat. Just be sure to wear sun protective clothing, a wide hat, and sunglasses, because even rays reflected off the water can burn skin quickly.