Now’s the time of year that locals and visitors to the Gulf State Park Pier in Gulf Shores, Alabama, have been dreaming of all year. Few people ever see and even fewer get in on a rally of big redfish. Many vacationers have gone home in November. Only the real fishermen get off their couches, leave the comforts of their homes and stand out in the Orange Beach fishingwind and nippy air to look for the big schools of giant redfish like little children peeping out the window on Christmas morning, looking for Santa Claus. However, because these tough fishermen pay the price, they’re privy to one of the most-phenomenal sights in nature – acres and acres of big bull redfish moving-down Alabama’s beaches in a slow procession, much like the Macy’s Day Parade on Thanksgiving Day.

For those brave souls who stand and watch, the rewards can be unbelievable. “Two big schools of redfish came down the beach at Gulf Shores this past week, the first week in November,” says David Thornton of Mobile, Ala., an avid pier angler. “Rods were bent, drags were squealing, and several battles were taking place all at one time.” As the weather continues to cool, the numbers of large schools of redfish will continue to move inshore and within easy casting distance of the Gulf State Park Pier. Fishing for these giant bull reds has become so popular that many of the charter-boat captains now are taking 4- and 6-hour trips just to catch these giant redfish. “If you find a school, you can keep bent rods for 4-solid hours,” says Captain Johnny Greene of the charter boat “Intimidator.” “Although we catch and release these fish, many visitors will nearly wear-out their cameras taking pictures of these giant redfish before we release them.”

But the redfish aren’t the only fish showing-up at the Gulf State Park Pier. The Spanish mackerel run has been one of the best seen in years, with the best bite generally occurring just after daylight and immediately beforOrange Beach Fishinge dark. Anglers are catching Spanish mackerel most all year long. Since the Gulf of Mexico has been churned-up this past week due to Hurricane Tomas, the flounder bite on the pier has diminished somewhat. Still flounder are being caught but not nearly in the numbers earlier in the fall. More flounder will be caught once the water clears. One of the strangest fish being caught of the pier right now is the Bonito. Normally an open-water fish, the Bonito have followed the large schools of baitfish that have moved inshore during November and have come within casting distance of the pier. These false albacores will stretch your strings, squeal your drags and cause your rods to look like wet noodles. They’re fierce-fighting fish and fun to catch.

Pier anglers still name the big king mackerel that have begun their fall run as the glamour fish of the pier and the dream fish. Fishermen go to the end of the pier and cast live LYs (alewives) out into the Gulf oOrange Beach fishingf Mexico to catch these king mackerel. The pier record king mackerel weighed over 40 pounds, and every week, 18- to 20-pound-plus kings are caught regularly on the pier. When the weather settles down in November, speckled trout will start showing-up around the pier lights closer to shore, and the flounder fishing around the pier also will pick-up. However, even in the worst weather, you can catch whiting, ground mullet and an occasional redfish from the pier during November. If you’re planning on coming to Alabama’s Gulf Coast to get-in one more offshore trip to catch snapper, grouper, triggerfish and amberjacks, also plan to spend one more day on the Gulf State Park Pier. You’ll be glad you did.

To fish with Captain Johnny Greene on the “Intimidator” out of Orange Beach, visit www.gulfshoresdeepseafishing.com, call 251-747-2872, or email him at intimidatorcharters@yahoo.com. To learn more about fishing the Gulf State Park Pier, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, call 251-948-7275. For more information about fishing guides and charter boats, lodging accommodations, restaurants and entertainment on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, call 800-745-SAND (7263), or visit www.orangebeach.com. You also can get a fishing report three times each week by visiting the “What’s Biting?” column at www.orangebeach.com/fishing/biting.

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