Editor’s Note: Captain David Brown of Brown’s Inshore Guide Service, has fished the area from Mobile Bay to Perdido Bay for over 20 years and guided professionally for more than 15 years. Brown specializes in light-tackle inshore fishing and offers full-service guide trips year-round in Alabama and Florida waters, including the Perdido Pass, the back bays and the front beaches for speckled trout, redfish and flounder.

Big Bull Reds

In December, our main attraction will be the big bull reds caught off the front beaches at Orange Beach. To find these schools of big reds, look for the birds. The larger the flock of seagulls you see diving on bait, the bigger the school of redfish beneath the bait. At this time of year, the redfish will be in the 12- to 18-pound range, but we’ll catch some as big as 30 pounds.

If I’m casting to reds under the birds, I’ll be using a jig and a soft-bodied Berkley PowerBait grub on 15- to 20-pound-test line with Shimano reels and a 7-foot St. Croix Premier Series fast-action rod. You can fish with lighter line. But if you get a 30-pound red on the line, you’ll have difficulty landing that big fish with light line. I like a 1/2-ounce jighead because I can make long casts with it and stay away from the schools of redfish. Too, the 1/2-ounce jig will fall faster than a smaller jig will.

On a 4-hour trip on a really-good day, you can catch and release 15 to 30 redfish, and on an average day, you can expect to catch 12 to 18 redfish. If you’re coming down here to fish for big bull reds, bring your camera. You may have the fishing trip of a lifetime catching big reds, and if you’re lucky enough to be here on a good day, no one will believe the number and the size of fish you’ve caught without photographic evidence. To catch these big redfish if you don’t see the birds, troll a Mann’s Stretch 20+ in chartreuse or red-and-white. When I can see the bait on the surface, but I don’t see the birds diving on the bait, I’ll start trolling Mann’s lures.

Speckled Trout

At this time of year, the speckled trout will move into the backwaters. To catch them, I prefer to go to the upper reaches of the Weeks Bay system, which includes the Fish River and the Magnolia River. I primarily catch my trout in these areas on live shrimp. During the early part of December, I’ll fish the shorelines. As the weather cools, I’ll start fishing the creek channels
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Sheepshead

Too, toward the end of the month, we’ll generally have a good run of sheepshead. You can catch sheepshead around bridge pilings, riprap like you find at the jetties and relic piers, which are broken-down piers or docks with a lot of barnacles. The sheepshead’s main course to feed on at this time of year is barnacles. Therefore, wherever there’s a good concentration of barnacles, you should find a good concentration of sheepshead. On a productive day of sheepshead fishing, you can catch 10 or 15 in a 4-hour trip, and if the sheepshead are biting really well, catching 30 in a day in December isn’t uncommon.

Flounder

Although most of the flounder have moved out into the Gulf of Mexico by this time of year, you can still find a few flounder hanging around the sea walls, the bridge pilings and the channel drop-offs and under docks and piers.

White Trout

The white trout will be in this month in creeks and boat basins like the new Barber Marina located on the Intercoastal Waterway, just north of Orange Beach, Alabama. If you can get those white trout biting, you often can catch 20 to 40 on a trip in one day.

Slot Redfish and Black Drum

Also, in the creeks, you’ll find slot redfish and black drum. In the past, the black drum have been a discard fish, but more fishermen are learning that the black drum is as good to eat as slot-sized redfish. I don’t know why they haven’t been popular before, but the black drum and the fact that it’s a really-good eating fish have been best-kept secrets down here. Finding black drum in the same places, using the same baits you’ve fished with for sheepshead and redfish isn’t uncommon. Most of these black drum will weigh from 2 to 5 pounds. But in Mobile Bay, you may catch black drum that weigh from 30 to 40 pounds.

Pompano and Whiting

Many people aren’t aware that this section of the Gulf of Mexico gets a fall run of pompano about this time of year. The pompano will be running the front beaches, especially when we have warm weather like we’ve had recently. We’ll continue to have a run of pompano, until we get the first one or two really-hard freezes that last for several days. Since the pompano will be scattered, to catch them, we use live shrimp, fresh dead peeled shrimp or sand fleas (mole crabs), which you can dig out of the sand. I use a No. 1 hook with a 1/2-ounce egg-sinker up the line about 18 inches from the hook on 12-pound-test line with a 20-pound-test shock leader. The 18-inch shock leader is tied onto the hook and then tied onto the 12-pound-test line. The whiting, also known as ground mullet, are also in at this time of year.

If you enjoy fishing, now’s the perfect time to come to the beach. We’ve got plenty of fish right now in December. The weather’s been good, and you can avoid the summer crowds. So, if you want to have a holiday adventure, catch a lot of fish, have a ton of fun and possibly catch the biggest redfish of your life, come on down to Orange Beach this month. Plan to go home with a mess of fish you can eat for dinner.

To fish with Captain David Brown, call (251) 981-6246 or (251) 942-4037, or visit www.brownsinshore.com.