Editor’s Note: In April, some of the best inshore fishing on Alabama’s Gulf Coast occurs at the mouth of Mobile Bay under the guns of Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines. As a young boy, Erik Davis of Gulf Shores, Alabama, spent much of his childhood in his dad’s boat fishing these waters. Now, he’s fulfilling a lifelong dream of being a fishing guide, like his dad, Gary Davis of Foley, and guiding parties out of Fort Morgan. This month, Erik will tell us what to catch and how to catch them in this history-rich, extremely-fertile estuary area.

Question: Erik, what’s biting inshore during April?
Davis: This month, the speckled trout will be moving into Mobile Bay, and we’ll be fishing artificial reefs created by Alabama’s Marine Resources Division inside of Mobile Bay. My favorite reef is the Shellbank, and I prefer to fish it at first light with live baits, like small croakers or live shrimp, Berkley’s Gulp! baits or D.O.A. shrimp. I’ll use a No. 6 Sea Striker hook and put a 1/16-ounce or larger shot lead 16 to 18 inches above the hook on 8-pound-test Berkley Trilene line. I want the shot lead to be as light as it can be and still be able to get the bait down near the bottom, even if a strong tide’s running in the area. I’ll let the live bait drift around the reef, and usually, the trout will pick up the bait. During early April, we’ll generally be catching 2- to 3-pound trout, and later in the month, the bigger trout will start showing up in the area.

Question: What else do you catch around Fort Morgan at this time of year?
Davis: This month, the sheepshead will still be in the region, and they’ll be biting really-good around the oil rigs in Mobile Bay. We’ll use live shrimp, a tiny split shot 16 to 18 inches up the line and a No. 6 Sea Striker hook.

Question: How do you keep the sheepshead from breaking that 8-pound-test line on the barnacles attached to the legs of the oil rigs?
Davis: As soon as you set the hook on the sheepshead, you’ve got about 2 or 3 seconds to get the fish away from the legs of the platform, and then you can get the sheepshead in the boat. As soon as that sheepshead strikes, you have to set the hook and pull it away from those legs.

Question: How big are the sheepshead you catch?
Davis: They average from 3- to-6 pounds each, which are really-fine sheepshead.

Question: What’s the limit on speckled trout and sheepshead?
Davis: The limit is 10 per person for speckled trout, and there are no limits on sheepshead.

Question: How long will there be a good sheepshead bite at Fort Morgan?
Davis: The sheepshead are usually here until the end of April.

Question: What about the redfish?
Davis: The bull reds start biting about the end of April on Dixey Bar at the lighthouse. I’ll generally fish the rocks on the outer edges of the lighthouse. We’re anchored-up when we’re fishing this pattern. I’ll use about a 1/2-ounce slip lead up the line, a barrel swivel below it, 15-pound monofilament leader coming off the bottom eye of the barrel swivel and a live pogy as bait. I let the bait reach the bottom. To catch big bull reds, don’t set the hook when you feel the bite. The live pogy will pull the line out away from the lead and swim around in the open water. When the redfish attacks the pogy, the first thump you’ll feel on the line is the redfish killing the pogy. The second bite you’ll feel is the redfish actually eating the pogy, and that’s when you set the hook. Some people have a difficult time not setting the hook on the first strike, causing a lot of fishermen to lose big redfish. Redfish this month will weigh from 12 to 30 pounds. We’ll have a lot of fun catching these big bull reds. So, y’all come on down, visit the forts, and plan to fish with us in Mobile Bay.

To contact Erik Davis, call his home at 251-967-1224 or his cell at 251-979-1224, or email erikdavis@gulftel.com.