Editor’s Note: One of the new features at Alabama’s Gulf Coast this year is bank-fishing guides. Distraction Charters has introduced bank-fisherman guides who live in the area and fish from the bank. These guides have learned the places where you can fish from the bank and catch a wide variety of fish at almost any time of the year. Even when the Gulf of Mexico is rough and muddy, and the wind’s howling in January, these guides can take you to secret places where they consistently catch fish for a price anyone can afford. One such guide is Ben Sherrill of Orange Beach, Ala.

Little Places That Produce Good Catches:

The Bon Secour River has been loaded with speckled trout. You almost can walk on the water by stepping on the backs of these trout. I generally can get a limit of speckled trout that will be from 14- to 35-inches long in 2 hours of fishing. But I’m fishing at a time and in a place where most people aren’t fishing. I’m catching the specks at night in Orange Beach fishingJanuary on docks where anybody can fish, using live bait I catch, which is generally 2- to 3-inch-long finger mullet, and spinning tackle. During January, the speckled trout still will be swarming at the lights around the docks and feeding on the baitfish attracted to the lights. To catch the speckled trout, I tiptoe up to the lights as quietly as possible, cast live bait to the outer edge of the lights and let the bait wash through the lights. The trout will take the finger mullet almost the instant it hits the water. To catch these trout, know when the tide is coming in or going out around the lights. The trout feed best when there’s a strong tide. I only fish with 3-inch finger mullet when I’m targeting big trout. Depending on the size of bait I have, I’ll use a No. 2 or a No. 4 hook with 12-pound-test line on spinning tackle. When the current slows down, I’ll put a piece of shot lead about a 1-1/2-feet up the line from the hook, and I’ll catch redfish from 16- to 27-inches long.

Daytime Fishing:

I still can catch redfish during the day fishing around these same docks, but instead of using live finger mullet, I generally prefer dead finger mullet cut in half. But West Pass, if the water’s clear and not too rough, also can be a great place to fish, especially for flounder. I’ll park in the parking lot by the bridge and fish on the beach side of the Pass on an outgoing tide. There’s a wall there with some riprap, and I generally sit on the rocks and fish with either live finger mullet or live bull minnows on the bottom. I can catch flounder usually up to about 3 pounds on an outgoing tide, fishing along the rocks. If a good, strong tide is coming out, you can expect to catch three to five flounder in about 2 hours of fishing. On an incoming tide, I move inside of West Pass, put on waders and fish the drop-offs you can see from the bank. I fish right on the edges of the drop-offs on an incoming tide because that’s where the flounder will hold.

The Bulls Are a Sure Bet:

The point at Fort Morgan is the best place to catch bull redfish during January. I use a surf fishing rod, baited with cut mullet, a 3- to a 4-ounce diamond weight with a swivel below the weight and attach a hook and about 18- to 20-inches of leader. I wear waders and cast out as far as I can. Then I return to the shore, take a piece of plastic PVC pipe, push it down into the sand and wait for the redfish to bite. I loosen the drag, so the redfish won’t snatch the rod out of the PVC pipe when they take the bait. ThOrange Beach fishingen I sit in a lawn chair and wait on the bite. When the redfish hits, I set the hook and battle the red. The tip of Fort Morgan is easy to reach. Park up near the Fort, go through or around the Fort, then get on the beach side of the peninsula and walk out to the end. You can see that all the current is breaking around the tip of that peninsula, and where that water’s breaking is where you’ll find the bull reds holding. Now, occasionally you’ll also catch some of Alabama’s home-grown black-tip sharks there. And that too can be a thrilling experience.

January is a good month to fish from the bank because if one species isn’t biting, you can get in your car and move to another spot. We’re seeing many-more visitors to the Gulf of Mexico wanting to learn to fish the surf and in the back bays. So, we charge $25.00 per person to take them to one of our spots. They can stay at that site or go to another place for another $25.00. We also teach them what tackle to use. Too, I suggest they get an inexpensive cast net and I’ll teach them how to cast the net, where to catch their bait and what type of fish is the best bait. Then any time they come to Alabama’s Gulf Coast, they’ll have places they can fish and a way to catch their own bait.

To contact Ben Sherrill, go to www.fishingorangebeach.com, or call 251-752-4038.

Speckled Trout Marguery

Speckled trout are delicious at any time of the year, and this recipe is a favorite.

3 pounds of fillets of speckled troutOrange Beach fishing
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 cup melted margarine
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup cooked shrimp, chopped
1/2-cup cooked crabmeat
1/2-cup sliced mushrooms
Paprika, salt and pepper to taste

Season fish with paprika, salt and pepper in baking pan, and add olive oil. Bake in 375-degree oven for 30 minutes. While fish cooks, prepare sauce by placing egg yolks in the top of a double boiler over hot water and gradually add melted margarine, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Add lemon juice, shrimp, crabmeat, mushrooms and seasoning to taste. Stir and cook for about 10 minutes to heat thoroughly. Place baked fish on a platter and cover with sauce. (Serves 6).