Alabama Saltwater Fishing Tips...How, When, What and Where

Bait Types
Where and How to Catch
Best Time to Catch
Size Range
Amberjack, GreaterLive bait (pinfish, blue runners); Cigar minnows or cut bait, artificial lures (spoons, jigs, bucktails, plastic squids)Gulf waters. Drifting and slow trolling live bait over and around obstructions (wrecks, reefs, gas platforms); casting and trolling artificial lures over and around high profile artificial reefs wrecks and obstructions. When an amberjack takes the bait, count to 5 before setting the hook. If you are using light tackle it"s best to chum the fish to the boat to keep them out of line cutting structure.
All Year, Peak: May - mid-September
20 -80 pounds
BluefishArtificial lures (small spoons, feather lures, metal spoons and squids, surface plugs) and cut bait. Trolling or casting to schools of fish with artificial lures; surfcasting and bottom fishing with cut bait; surfcasting with artificial lures Lower Mobile and Perdido Bays, coastal Gulf waters, Gulf surf, and around passes.
March - November
1 -5 pounds
Cobia (Ling)Live bait (pinfish, mullet, silver eels); artificial lures (large spoons, white bucktails, plastic eels, swimming plugs); cut bait (menhaden or cigar minnows)Cast, drift or slow troll live baits around buoys, floating and underwater obstructions and schools of fish swimming on the surface; anchor, chum and fish live baits, fresh dead baits and cut bait in chum slick; cast and troll lures around buoys, floating obstructions and to schools, pods or individual cobia swimming on surface. Offshore reefs and caught along Gulf beaches in the surf zone when migrating, usually mid-March. Many fish are caught by sighting the fish on the surface and casting to them.
March - October, Peak: mid May - mid- September
20 - 80 pounds
Croaker, AtlanticCut bait, squid, dead shrimpBottom fishing with dead or cut bait, anchored or drifting from boats. Also caught from piers, docks, shore in Mobile Bay, tributary rivers, coastal bays, coastal Gulf waters, inlets.
April - October
1/2 - 2 pounds
Crevalle Jack (Cavalla) Live bait (mullet, pogies); artificial lures (spoons, plugs, jigs, bucktails)Large jacks prefer big, active baits, like 7- to 10-inch mullet or hand-size pogies, fished on a float or a flat line. Use 15 or 20-pound line; Thread on a bead, tie on the float and attach 36 inches of 30-pound-test leader with a wide gap hook. Lip-hook baits for bottom fishing and tail-hook the floating baits. Tail-hooked baits swim more erratically, which entices the larger jacks. Catch and release since crevalles are poor table fare.
May - November
15 - 25 pounds
Dolphinfish (Dolphin, Dorado, Mahi-mahi)Artificial lures (offshore trolling lures), balao, squid, cut baitTrolling with lures, balao and squid or casting to schools of "chicken" dolphin around sargassum lines and floating debris with cut bait (fish or squid) and lures (bucktails, surface plugs, streamer flies). Offshore Gulf waters. Dolphin get excited when they see another of their kin struggling on a hook, so don't pull that fish in until another angler has hooked up. Then wait for the next hook up before bringing that one aboard.
June - October
2 - 50 pounds
Drum, BlackBlue crabs (quartered), hermit crabs, or bucktails and leadhead jigs when water is clear.Bottom fishing with running tides in late afternoons and evenings are best. Use a strong single hook with line and leader of appropriate strength. Mobile Bay oyster reefs and along the shallow portions of channel ledges and the mouths of tidal rivers are preferred locations. Smaller black drum good eating, but the larger fish (over 15 pounds) have a very coarse flesh. If you catch a large fish you do not plan to eat, it should be released
March - October; Peak: May - early June
20 - 50 pounds
Drum, Red (Redfish)Cut bait (fresh mullet, croaker, menhaden), crabs, artificial lures (spoons, large plugs, jigs)Bottom fishing, trolling and casting spoons, plugs and jigs. Surfcasting with bait on barrier island beaches and bait fishing along interior seaside marshes; bait fishing in Mobile Bay along Eastern Shore and oyster reefs and shoal areas at the mouth of the Bay; trolling and casting artificial lures on Dixey Bar area for large "bull" reds
All Year
2 - 35 pounds
Flounder (Gulf, Southern)Live bait (bull minnows and small croakers), artificial lures (bucktails); big strip baits and live croaker or small mullet or croakers often used for big fish in lower Mobile Bay.Drift fishing with live or dead natural baits fished on the bottom; slow trolling natural baits on bottom; jigging with live bait along jetties, casting from beaches and piers; trolling small bucktails dressed with strip baits (especially for big fish in lower Mobile Bay); and gigging along all coastal shorelines on dark moon in calm waters. Coastal bays and inlets; Mobile Bay area; lower Mobile Bay;
April - October; peak May-July on Eastern Shore, Peak June - October in Mobile Bay
1 -8 pounds
Groupers, (Gag, Scamp & Red)Cut bait on single-hook rigs fished on the bottom around natural structure or artificial reefs are effective for smaller groupers, and a favorite rig for large red grouper is a single 7/0 hook fastened to a 5-foot dropper off the main leader, which ends with an 8 to 12 ounce sinker. Selection of bait is important. Squid with long tentacles, whole cigar minnows, and fresh strips of bonito, or live fish such as pinfish or tomtates catch the big groupers.
All Year
2 - 50 pounds
Kingfish, Gulf and Southern (Whiting and Ground Mullet)Dead shrimp, small pieces of cut bait, squid fished on bottom.Whiting (Gulf Kingfish) are caught in the Gulf surf zone of coastal waters and off Gulf piers and lower portions of the bays, including lower bay piers. Ground mullet (Southern Kingfish) are caught on the inshore artificial reefs and around oyster reefs and tidal river mouths. Night fishing is productive.
May - September
1/2 - 2 pounds
Mackerel, KingCigar minnows; artificial lures (spoons, feather lures, nylon jigs) Slow trolling, drifting or anchoring with live bait (mullet, pinfish, menhaden), trolling with artificial lures, strip bait and balaoCoastal and offshore Gulf waters, particularly around wrecks, rigs, obstructions, ledges, lumps and other "structure"; and off Gulf inlets. drifting live or cut bait, sometimes around shrimp boats or gas platforms or by trolling. Both natural and artificial baits can be used for trolling
May - October; peak August - middle September
5 - 50 pounds
Mackerel, SpanishSmall artificial lures (spoons, metal lures, feather and nylon lures), small live baits (scaled sardines, mullet).Trolling; casting to schools of fish. Coastal Gulf waters, particularly off inlets, along tide lines, and over coastal wrecks; lower Mobile Bay – fish under feeding birds. Lures for Spanish mackerel work best with a high speed retrieve. Best color lures are silver, white, and gold. Spanish readily take live shrimp or bait fish. Short wire leaders will prevent these toothy fish from cutting your line. Black swivels should be used or the mackerel will strike at the swivel and cut your line.
May - September, Peak: July - August
1 - 8 pounds
Pompano, Florida (Pompano)Mole Crabs ("sand fleas"), small bucktails, plastic tail jigs.Pompano frequent the surf zone right where the waves break in "suds" on the beach. feeding on the sand fleas that live in this high energy area.Live sand fleas fished on bottom in surf zone with a #1 or #2 hook weighted with a very small split shot along Gulf beaches. Flip the baited hook in this area and allow it to be carried with the current.
May - October; Peak: July – August
1 – 3 pounds
Sailfish, AtlanticWhole dead fish (balao, small mullet), strip baits, squid, artificial lures (small offshore trolling lures, live bait (small fish).Trolling with outriggers, also, sailfish seem to be attracted to slow trolled live baits fished in similar method as used to slow troll for king mackerel. Offshore Gulf waters
May - October; Peak: July - August
25 - 75 pounds
Seatrout, Sand & Silver (White Trout)Small pieces of cut bait, dead shrimp or squid fished on bottom.White trout are caught throughout the bays, including bay piers and on the inshore artificial reefs, around oyster reefs and coastal river mouths and around near shore Gulf rigs and platforms for large, "yellowmouth" trout. Often, night fishing is most productive.
May - November - Peak: June and July.
1 - 5 pounds
Seatrout, Spotted (Speckled Trout)Artificial lures (mirror-sided plugs, bucktails, plastic tail jigs), live bait fish (croakers, mullet, menhaden); live shrimpAlong Gulf beaches in March. Spring method: live shrimp or croakers fished near shore of marshy or grassy areas and around oyster reefs, inshore artificial reefs, rock jetties and shoal areas on flooding tides; Late Fall/Winter method in rivers and above Mobile Bay Causeway (deep holes, drop-offs, channels): casting artificial lures and also live bait fishing, trolling and jigging Spring: estuaries; submerged grass flats and inshore artificial reefs.
All Year
2 - 10 pounds
SharksWhole dead fish and cut fish; live bait (fish)Anchor, chum and fish dead and live fish baits in chum slick and on bottom. Offshore and coastal Gulf waters, particularly around and over obstructions (wrecks, reefs, rigs and also behind anchored shrimp boats); Eastern Shore, seaside coastal waters and around passes and inlets.
March - November
5 - 500 pounds
SheepsheadLive shrimp, hermit crabs or fiddler crabs, fished on the bottom or with a float.Fish around oyster reefs, bridge pilings, inshore artificial reefs, rock jetties and oyster reef areas on flooding tides. A 1/0 hook is just about right. Move from place to place along jetties to find the fish.
All Year
2 – 10 pounds
Snapper, RedCut bait on multiple-hook rigs is effective for smaller snappers, and a favorite rig for large red snapper is a single 7/0 hook. The hook is fastened to a 4 to 5-foot dropper off the main leader, which ends with an 8 to 12 ounce sinker.Offshore around natural structure or artificial reefs. Selection of bait is important. Squid with long tentacles, whole cigar minnows, and fresh strips of bonito or amberjack or live fish such as pinfish or tomtates catch the big red snapper. Fish different depths until you catch the size snapper you're looking for, then fish at that depth to catch snapper of similar size.
Seasonal Usually June 1 through August 15 can change year to year please check prior to fishing
2 - 30 pounds
Snapper, Gray (Mangrove, Black) Same as for Red snapperSmaller gray snappers are often caught in inshore tidal rivers, creeks and channels and around inshore gas rigs. Gray snapper are usually caught on the bottom.
All Year
1 – 12 pounds
Snapper, Vermilion (Beeliner)Cut bait on multiple-hook rigs. State Record: Offshore around natural structure or artificial reefs. Beeliners, unlike red snappers, are a mid-water-column fish. For larger vermilion snapper try using bait such as cigar minnows or Spanish sardines. The rule for vermilion snapper is that the larger fish always school, hold and feed over the smaller ones.
All Year
1 – 5 pounds
Spadefish, AtlanticPieces of peeled fresh shrimp and squid; or try small pieces of jellyfish with small (#5 or #6) double strength hooks.Fish visible schools of fish around obstructions (reefs, buoys, rigs, etc.) Coastal Gulf waters around reefs, natural bottom and rigs
All year
1 - 4 pounds
SpotCut bait, squid, dead shrimp, fished on bottom.Anchored or drifting from boats, also caught from docks, piers, shore and surf; big runs of fish in the fall in lower Mobile Bay and in surf and piers off Alabama beaches, Mobile Bay and Bay tributary rivers, coastal Gulf waters, inlets - all inshore coastal waters.
May - November; Peak: June
8 - 12 ounces
TarponWhole dead fish (spot, croaker, menhaden); live bait (large pinfish, menhaden, mullet); whole squid; artificial lures (plugs and weighted streamer flies - tarpon like white)Anchor and fish live bait (pinfish) under floats, or on the bottom and at various depths using a 9/0 circle hook; cast artificial lures to rolling fish. Inlets, interior marsh areas, and Gulf waters along the beaches of Eastern Shore in upper Mobile Bay, seaside barrier islands; fish deep holes on low tides and shallow areas on high tides
Late May to early October; Peak: July - August - $50 tarpon tag required for each fish taken.
30 - 150 pounds
Triggerfish, GrayCut bait on multiple-hook with small pieces of peeled fresh shrimp or squid.Gulf waters around reefs, natural bottom and rigs.The best bait is a piece of squid hooked on a very sharp, double-strength 1/0 or 2/0 hook. Note: If you get your fingers too close to the mouth, you will lose a nice chunk of your finger! The triggerfish three stiff dorsal spines and can lock them in an upright position. The only way to get them down is to push down on the third spine. It acts as a "trigger" and the other two spines will flatten into a groove in the fish's back.
All Year
1 - 5 pounds
Tripletail (Blackfish) Large, live shrimp, or artificial luresUsually caught around buoys, channel markers and other floating obstructions. Tripletail can be quite shy and slow to strike so slow sinking jigs or bait below a cork are the best baits for tripletails. A long, calcutta cane pole with large, live shrimp is a most effective method.
Mid-May - October Peak: July
5 - 20 pounds
Tuna, BlackfinWhole fish (balao), squid, artificial lures (feather lures, large plugs, offshore trolling lures) Trolling, jigging - Offshore Gulf waters
May - December, peak: late June - July
10- 20 pounds
Tuna, YellowfinWhole dead fish (balao), squid, artificial lures (feather lures, offshore trolling lures, large plugs).Slow-trolling live blue runners (6" - 8" are perfect size), chunking and chumming or jigging diamondhead jigs when fish are down deep. Offshore Gulf waters.
April - December, Peak: June - July
50 - 150 pounds
Tunny, Little (Bonito)Artificial lures (small feather and nylon lures, metal spoons), strip baits.Trolling, can cast small metal lures to schools of fish on surface. Offshore and coastal Gulf waters; occasionally in lower Mobile Bay.
April - November
4 - 12 pounds
WahooArtificial lures - plastic trolling lures (kona heads, etc.), feather lures, spoons, large plugs, small dead fish (balao).Trolling - Offshore Gulf waters
May - October
25 - 75 pounds