Editor’s Note: Captain Gary Davis of Foley, Alabama, who’s guided and fished for 40 years on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, primarily fishes out of Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay. He looks forward to April because that’s when the big trout and the flounder really start showing-up in the bay, and there’s also redfish and sheepshead to catch.

Speckled Trout:
At this time of year, speckled trout migrate out of the rivers and move into shallow water as the water warms-up and hold on oyster beds and artificial reefs in Mobile Bay. I’ll fish for the trout with a 3-inch Berkeley Gulp! Shrimp, either in the natural or the new-penny color. I’ll also use the chartreuse and green finesse jigs and grubs and the root-beer-ice finesse grubs. I’ll fish a finesse grub on a 1/4-ounce lead-head jig on either 8- or 10-pound-test line. In April, we catch some of our nicest trout, weighing from 2- to 5-pounds each. Generally on a 4-hour trip, we’ll catch a limit of 10 trout per person.

In April, I fish the Dixey Bar at the mouth of Mobile Bay, the Sand Island lighthouse and the shoals at Dauphin Island. I’ve caught good slot reds just west of the Dauphin Island Bridge and at the Dauphin Island Bridge itself. If you can get live croakers, they’re the best baits for catching reds. If I can’t find live croakers, I’ll fish with frozen menhaden or 12- to 15-pound-test line with a No. 4 Sea Striker hook. If the current’s really running where you’re fishing, use a 1-ounce lead up the line. In light current, you often can fish a 1/4-ounce lead up the line. We’ll usually get a limit of three redfish per person during April.

April’s a big flounder month. I’ll catch most of my flounder on a 3-inch Berkley Gulp! Shrimp in the new-penny color. I’ll fish this grub on a 1/4-ounce jighead by hopping it across the bottom. These flounder will weigh 2- to 3-pounds each.

April is a productive month for sheepshead. I’ll find sheepshead on the Dauphin Island Bridge, the rigs inside Mobile Bay and on the oyster beds and the artificial reefs created by the State of Alabama, like White Horse Reef, Fish River Reef and Shell Banks Reef. I catch sheepshead with live shrimp and fiddler crabs. I’ll use a 1/2-ounce lead up the line and tie the main line to a barrel swivel. I’ll fish with 14-pound-test fluorocarbon leader tied to a No. 6 Sea Striker hook. Right now, I’m catching nice-sized sheepshead, weighing from 4- to 10-pounds each. In a 4-hour trip, I’ll generally catch 20 to 40 sheepshead. My favorite way to cook sheepshead, or any type of fish, is to put about 1 inch of olive oil in a black cast-iron skillet, dredge the fish fillets in yellow cornmeal, and then cook each side until just browned. This recipe is quick and easy, and the end product is delicious, tasty fillets.

To contact Captain Gary Davis, call (251) 943-6298.