Editor’s Note: As the weather cools-down, the fishing heats-up on Alabama’s Gulf Coast and some of the best fishing in the year is ahead for anglers.

Captain Gary Davis on Inshore Fishing before the New Year:

A longtime fall and winter inshore fisherman, Davis says, “In November, Fort Morgan Gulf Shores, Weeks Bay, Mobile Bay and the river systems that feed these bays, plus Little Lagoon out near the beach at Gulf Shores are where I’m finding the most fish. The speckled trout and redfish have moved out of Mobile Bay now, and anglers are locating them mostly in the coastal rivers. The Fish River off Weeks Bay is one of my favorite November places to fish. To catch fish there, use live shrimp under popping corks. Artificial lures aren’t producing as well as live bait at this time of year. The most-productive way to fish now is to drift-down the center of the river and cast until you start catching trout. Then anchor your boat, and fish the schools of trout that you find. I’ll put my popping cork 2-1/2-feet above a live shrimp that I’ve hooked in the tail rather than the horn and use a No. 6 Sea Striker hook on the end of the line with a small split shot about 4 to 5 inches above the shrimp. I’ll fish either 8- or 10-pound-test main line. As my clients and I drift-down the rivers, we’ll pop the cork to make the sound of feeding trout, which will pull trout from those deep holes in the middle of the river up to thOrange Beach Charterse surface to feed. Using this tactic in November, we’ll catch some really-nice trout that will weigh from 2 to 4 pounds.

“We catch redfish around structure like treetops in the river and in the mouths of little creeks that run into the river. As long as the tide’s moving, whether it’s coming-in or going-out, the redfish will bite. We’ll use the same popping cork and live shrimp tactics for the redfish that we’ve used to catch trout. The real secret to catching flounder this year is stable weather. The flounder will shut-down when cold fronts come through a region. However, when the weather’s stable - either cold or warm - we have highly-productive fishing for flounder at Fort Morgan. The two best baits for flounder in November are live bull minnows, and Berkley’s Gulp! Shrimp in the New Penny color with a 1/4-ounce jig head. I’m also fishing the live bull minnows on that same 1/4-ounce jig head. I drag the bait on the bottom for about a foot, let the bait sit still, drag it again and allow it to sit still once more. At this time of the year, the flounder bite is very subtle. I tell my customers, ‘When your bait feels like it’s hung on the bottom, set the hook.’

“The flounder we’re catching out of Fort Morgan are 12- to 14-inches long now in November, and half the flounder we catch will weigh from 2 to 4 pounds. Flounder have to be at least 12 inches for us to keep them. We catch most of our flounder around structure. For instance, I like to fish around the legs of the gas rigs out in Mobile Bay and around the rock piles. Jetty rocks and rocks around the ferry landing are present in Mobile Bay, as well as ballast rocks from old boats and ships that you can locate with a depth finder. The sailing ships that once came into Mobile Bay and docked used the ballast stones to balance their loads by adding rocks or throwing them overboard. Flounder fishing will continue to be good for the rest of November, because these fish haven’t moved out into the Gulf of Mexico yet. However, your most-dependable bite will continue to be the speckled trout and redfish in the coastal rivers.” To learn more about Captain Davis and his Tidewater Fishing Service, call 251-942-6298.

First of November Pier Report:

David Thornton, who fishes the Gulf State Park Pier in Gulf Shores, Ala., says that fishing on the pier is picking-up. “Because of the cold fronts that have come-through our area in the last few weeks, the tons and tons of baitfish that have been holding around the pier are beginning to move offshore. As the baitfish leave and disperse, the sport fish are moving in toward shore. The king-Orange Beach fishingmackerel bite is starting to pick-up, and we had six king mackerel brought-in to the pier one day the last weekend in October. The average king is weighing 10 to 15 pounds, with an occasional 25-pound king being caught. The Spanish mackerel bite is still holding strong as these mackerel begin their migration back to the east and then south. As the Spanish mackerel are moving, the big schools of redfish are starting to move-in toward the pier. We catch big redfish that may weigh 20 to 30 pounds on 15- to 20-pound-test line. We’ll land these redfish in a net, pull them up over the rail and onto the pier to allow the anglers an opportunity to take their pictures with these giant fish, unhook the redfish, put it in the net and lower it back into the water to swim away and fight again another day.

“Too, flounder fishing is starting to pick-up on the pier. The water temperature is still in the 70s, and for the flounder to move-out of the bays and out into the Gulf of Mexico where we can catch them, that water temperature needs to drop-down into the 60-degree range. As the water temperature falls, the number of flounder we catch from the pier will begin to increase. We still haven’t had that big fall run of flounder that we usually experience this time of year when they concentrate around the pier pilings. All the Pier Rats (the folks who fish the pier just about every day, year-round) are sitting on the edges of their seats right now, knowing that any day, the big schools of redfish will start coming-in toward the pier.” To see Thornton’s reports on what’s being caught on the Gulf State Park Pier, go to www.gulfshorespierfishing.com. You also can call 251-948-7275 for hours of operation.

The Orange Beach Fishing Association (www.obfishingassn.com) will be glad to find you and your family a captain and a boat that fits your needs. For accommodation and restaurant recommendations, contact Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism at 800-745-SAND, or visit www.orangebeach.com. To have your fresh fish prepared at the beach, go to www.alabamasnaturalcoast.net, click on restaurants, and check box for “Will Cook Your Catch.”

Pecan-Crusted Speckled Trout

There’s no way to prepare speckled trout that doesn’t taste delicious, but this different recipe will be one your family and friends will particularly enjoy.

Ingredients:Orange Beach Fishing
1/2-cup pecan pieces, finely chopped
1/2-cup bread crumbs
1/4-cup flour
1/2-cup reduced-fat milk
1 egg (or 1/4-cup egg substitute)
1-1/2-pounds speckled trout fillets
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4-canola oil

Chop pecans (like coarse bread crumbs), and combine with bread crumbs in shallow bowl. Place flour in second bowl. Whisk milk and egg together in third bowl. Sprinkle both sides of fish with seasoned salt. Dip fish in flour (coating on both sides), and then dip into egg mixture (allowing excess to drip off). Dip into pecan mixture. Preheat large sauté pan on medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Place oil in pan, and add fish. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden.