While most visitors to Alabama’s Gulf Coast are tucked in their beds, Captain Don Holloway and the anglers who fish with him are pulling-in speckled trout and redfish. By the time you get-up to go eat breakfast, they’re gone, but not far. They’re usually catching loads of redfish then. “I like to get to the lights at about 5 am,” says Captain Holloway. The lights he’s referring to are the dock and pier lights from the Highway 59 Orange Beach Fishingbridge west to Mobile Bay on Alabama’s Intercoastal Canal. Many of the docks and piers along the Canal have lights that shine-down in the water and concentrate baitfish at night, thereby attracting speckled trout and redfish. At 5 am, Holloway and his party have the Canal mostly to themselves. They don’t see the usual boat traffic that goes up and down the canal later in the morning. “We can usually catch our fish from 5 am until 8 am, when the boat traffic picks-up,” Holloway says. “Even after the sun comes up, trout and redfish will hold around these docks in the Canal, even though the lights have turned-off.”

Holloway uses the current and/or the wind to propel his boat past the dock lights. “We stop upcurrent or upwind of the lights, turn-off the motor, and then begin to drift quietly just within casting distance of the lights. We want our baits to land not in the light, but right on the edge of the lights. That’s where the trout and the redfish hold in the dark to attack the baitfish and shrimp theOrange Beach Fishingy see in the light.” Holloway and his party will cast 3-inch-long live shrimp on 15-pound-test line with a No. 2/0 Kahle hook. They’ll set their popping corks, so that the bait will drift through the light 5- to 6-feet deep. The speckled trout they catch in November in the canal will be 18-20 inches and weigh 2- to 3-pounds each. The best trout Holloway’s caught in the past few weeks has been 20-inches long and weighed about 4-1/2-pounds.

“I also carry rods set-up the same way with 20-pound-test line instead of 15-pound test to be prepared for starting to catch redfish,” Holloway explains. “Under some docks, there will often be more redfish than speckled trout, so my anglers have to have stronger lines to turn the redfish and keep them from getting the lines around the pilings where the barnacles can cut the lines.”

When the night and the early-morning bite is gone, Holloway cranks-up his motor, heads back into Mobile Bay and runs to the Bon Secour River. “In November, the mouth of the Bon Secour River all the way up to where Meme’s Restaurant once stood and where you’ll find the last shrimp unloading dock is jammed with redfish,” Holloway says. “Most of these redfish will fall within the 16-26 inch slot. Each angler can keep two slot reds and one redfish that’s longer than 26 inches.” Holloway is using the same rod, reel, line, hook and cork that he fished with on the Intercoastal Canal. However, he’s sliding his popping cork down, so that his shrimp only sinks to about 2-feet deep in the water. November redfish will be holding on really-Orange Beach Fishingshallow cover, mostly old docks, pilings, piers, trees in the water or any other types of bank structure that they can hide behind to ambush bait.

After each of his anglers catches a limit of redfish and possibly one or two flounder, Holloway is ready to head back to his base at Gulf Shores Marina on the Fort Morgan Peninsula. But you can’t mention the Fort Morgan Peninsula without discussing Dixey Bar, a sandbar out in front of the entrance to Mobile Bay that historically has homed large numbers of big bull redfish. “Recently I had a trip with eight Texas fishermen who just wanted to fish for bull reds,” Holloway reports. “We went to Dixey Bar, and on a 6-hour trip, we caught and released more than 100 of those giant bull reds.”

Whether you want to fish for bull reds in the daylight, speckled trout before daylight or slot reds just after sunrise.

For more information on fishing on the Intercoastal Canal at Gulf Shores, the Bon Secour River and Mobile Bay, contact Captain Don Holloway at 251-550-5418, visit www.backbayfishingwithdon.com or write captholloway@yahoo.com. You can learn more about other attractions available on Alabama’s Gulf Coast by calling Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism at 800-745-SAND (7263), or by visiting www.orangebeach.com.