Drifting the Bar in October

January 13, 2010

This was my first time fishing the area in another month besides June.  I was looking forward to cooler weather, smaller crowds and different sorts of fishing.  Things were a little different, though the weather made it slightly more difficult.  It was cloudy and windy when we arrived at the Navy Cove Condos.  The water was whipped up and didn’t look real good.  A chat with some guys who had been there a while said the fishing had been terrible all week.  They said there were no flounder anywhere, and no Redfish on the Bar.  Regardless of the poor weather and fishing reports, we set out that afternoon and found some structure in the Gulf we call the Rock.  It’s hundred yards or so off the public beach at Fort Morgan.  The wind was out of the south, so the Gulf was rough, but the bay was pretty smooth until you got far away from the land. 

Friday, the next day was more of the same.  Dixey Bar was too rough to fish. but we found lots of White Trout and lots of wind.  Saturday however, was beautiful.  We started out drifting the Bar with miscelaneous baitfish.  We caught and released about 13 nice Redfish.  We lost a few more that jumped off the hook, which is rare cause usually once the Redfish pulls line out, he’s hooked for good.  We were using 7/0 circle sea hooks.  I’m curious if anyone else has had negative experiences with these. 

That evening, as the tide was going out, we caught a few more Reds, some on artificials.  We also caught a large Jack Crevalle.  This was my first one ever.

Jack Crevalle from Dixey Bar. This one hit a live Pinfish.

 

The next morning was beautiful.  Clear skies, no wind and nice smooth water.  We only caught a couple of Reds, but had a blast fighting the big Jack Crevalle.  They pull like a high speed train and seem to never tire out.  We landed five.  Most were 25 lbs, but the last one was bigger.  We never wieghed it, but the fight lasted an hour on big tackle with 25lb test line.  We were drifting while fighting this fish.  By the time it was landed, we were at the light house which is 3 miles off shore.

Inshore oil rigs in Mobile Bay

March 12, 2009

There’s been plenty of hububb the past few years about some of the oil rigs in Mobile Bay.  Some of these rigs have been enhanced by the oil companies by adding crushed limestone and oyster shells around the bottoms.  This added substrate supposedly attracts lots of bait and gamefish. 

Big double rig near Dauphin Island.  Been here three times.  Never caught a fish here.

Big double rig near Dauphin Island. Been here three times. Never caught a fish here.

If you read Shallow Water Angler magazine, you’ve probably read reports of people catching lots of Speckled Trout around these enhanced oil rigs.  Your impression would be that you can go there anytime and catch 40 or 50 Trout.  Maybe this has happened before, but my impression of these ‘fish magnets’ is a little different. 

Humminbird 997 side image of inshore oil rig.

Humminbird 997 side image of inshore oil rig. The white spots casting the shadows are the legs. You can see the limestone and oyster shells around the rig.

I’ve spent about 30 hours fishing around these rigs throughout the years and only caught hand full of fish.  I’ve used live bait and always fish early in the morning when lots of water is moving.  My advice is to try some of these spots, but don’t plan your vacation around them.  Always have a few more spots to go to if these don’t pan out.  Always having a plan B or C is always the most important strategy for a day of fishing.  There are too many factors out there that can change your anticipated float plan.  Flexibility is always the most important requirement next to patience when it comes to fishing.  I’d rank safety a distant 3rd. (if you want to catch fish)

Info on the rigs and inshore reefs are here.

The Rock

January 7, 2009

The Rock is what we call one of our favorite fishing holes around Fort Morgan.  It was first shown to us a few years ago by a fishing guide.  It is a good place to go when the wind is coming out of the north because it is right off the beach.  Even when the wind is howling, the Rock is under smooth water, protected by the shore right there at the Fort Morgan public beach access.  The Rock was our ‘go to’ place everytime we were fishing in the general area and weren’t having much luck anywhere else. 

This is the location of the Rock.  It is just beyond casting distance from the beach at the Fort Morgan public beach access.

This is the location of the Rock. It is just beyond casting distance from the beach at the Fort Morgan public beach access.

 

You can see from the picture, the Rock is straight offshore from the road at the beach access.  You can see it from the water easily because there is a highly visable sign at the end of the road. 

The first time we fished there, we were looking for Speckled Trout.  They weren’t there, but we did catch a few White Trout.  We didn’t stay long because that is not what we were looking for.  When we returned one afternoon, the water was very calm and extremely clear.  We located the Rocks by finding the dark area of water.  We caught a few Flounder on cocahoe minnow type lures, and saw a bunch of small Spadefish.  A school of Jack Crevalle passed by also. 

We returned to the Rock a few more times over the years and decided that Flounder was the most consistant catch there.  We did the best for them on small Gulp! baits on jig heads.  We would also occasionally catch a bunch of Bluefish, or Hardtails.  We even caught a few sharks there too.  Some times the water there is extremely clear and you can makeout details in the rocks 10 feet down.

Last time were there in June 2008, we couldn’t find the Rock.  We assumed they had been covered up by storms and shifting sand.  We went to the exact spot of our waypoint and they didn’t seem to be there.  The rocks actually extend a ways up and down the beach.  With a little searching  in clear water, or with a good depth finder, you could probably find some rocks somewhere.  They’ve been there for hundreds of years.  I’ve been told they were ballast rock that were dumped there by old sailing ships trying to lighten their load before they entered Mobile Bay.    

The waypoint is 220 yards from the sign at the end of the road.  The Rocks are between the beach and the first sandbar.

The waypoint is 220 yards from the sign at the end of the road. The Rocks are between the beach and the first sandbar.

I’d like to hear if anyone else knows about these rocks, or if they are currently all buried in the sand.  They make a nice and quiet little fishing hole when nothing else seems to be working.

What is Dixey Bar?

January 5, 2009

Dixey Bar is a sand bar that extends south from the tip of the Fort Morgan peninsula into the Gulf of Mexico for about three miles.  It is only 7 feet deep or so all the way out.  It is a haven for gamefish in the area.  When the tide falls, water from Mobile Bay is sucked out along with lots of baitfish, crabs and shrimp.  These yummy fish treats are pulled out of the bay and over Dixey Bar where lots of predator fish, espsecially big Redfish, wait in ambush. 

This screen shot show the depth change while we were heading north over Dixey Bar.

This screen shot show the depth change while we were heading north over Dixey Bar.

Dixey Bar got its name for the 165 foot clipper ship that ran aground here in 1860.   The Robert H. Dixey was at anchor during a hurricane and eventually broke free.  It drifted out into the gulf and broke apart when it hit the bar.  Eighteen sailors and the captain lost their lives.   

Many species of fish can be caught here, but this place is really known for its Bull Reds.  Drifting out with the tide can produce lots of 20 to 30 lb Redfish.  The bait of choice is live Croakers.  Live Pinfish are also good.  Pogies, Mullet, or cut Mullet chunks are also very effective.

Nice Bull Red from Dixey Bar.  This one took a frozen Pogey.

Nice Bull Red from Dixey Bar. This one took a frozen Pogey.

Here’s how you do it.  You start out in about 10-2o feet of water between the red bouy and the tip of Fort Morgan.  Drop your bait to the bottom and drift out with the current.  Your rig should consist of a big circle hook, 5/0 – 7/0 with a heavy leader.  I like to use 40lb leader with at least a 20lb main line.  It’s best to not use light line, because taking too much time to land the fish is makes it more difficult to successfully release it alive.  Large Redfish do not make good table fare and should be released. Drift out for as long as you’d like and repeat as necessary.  Sometimes you may need to use the motor to stay in the right depth of water.  When the water’s real clear, the fish will be deep.    Watch what the locals are doing.  They’re usually fishing the right spots.  There is some etiquette when fishing this way when it gets crowded.  Do not run your boat up the same area people are drifting.  Make your way up the west side of the bar towards the shipping channel to return to the spot to begin your next drift.  Don’t cut in line.  If the boat running up in front of you stops, go past it to start your drift.  This area can get busy when the Reds are biting and locals can rightfully get fussy when out of towners ‘do it wrong’.

Way offshore trip: 6.5 miles !

January 5, 2009
Google Earth image with tracks from June 12, 2008 fishing trip.

Google Earth image with tracks from June 12, 2008 fishing trip.

 

The tides were pretty slack all week so the inshore fishing was pretty dead.  Surprisingly, my dad was up early and waiting for us in the kitchen.  We had dragged him along to Shellbank Reef a few days earlier and had a dissapointing trip.  I thought his fishing for the trip was over, but here he was ready to go again.  He asked, “What’s the plan?”  I said “we’re going to put the shore to our stern and hit the gas. ”   There’s always fish to catch when you go offshore a little ways.  I was kinda bummed about the fishing so far.  It had been a pretty slow week.  I was ready for something different. 

We lauched the boat while Iwas talking to the office on my cell phone.  We got 1/2 mile past the pier before we realized we should go back and catch some shrimp.  So we turned around and netted some.

Whoops.  Shouldn't we get some bait?

Whoops. Shouldn't we get some bait?

  Once we got to the outside we chased some schooling fish.  We caught a bunch of Hardtails and Ladyfish.  Dad caught one Spanish Mackerel.  The Hardtails were perfect size for King Mackerel bait, so I kept a few.  We made our way to a rig and dropped a chum bag.  Fish were everywhere.  Mostly Hardtails chasing bait, and a few Kings were puting on a show.  We spent some time casting lures, but didn’t catch much.  The Hardtails here were a little big for King bait.  I dropped down a double rig with some live shrimp on a rod with Power Pro line.  A minute later a fish was on.  A second later, it was off.  Everything was off.  The line was cut above the entire rig.  We knew there had to be King, or Spanish Mackerel down there.  We lost many fish before we switched to wire leaders.  The funny thing was that we kept losing fish after we added wire leaders.  The fish were going so absolutlely nuts down there, that they were biting the sinkers above the leaders when another fish was hooked, thus cutting the monofilament.  We finaly figured this out so we started putting a big split shot sinker on the wire itself.   No more fish were lost.  We weren’t keeping track, but I bet we lost 15 good fish from all the cut-offs.

But we managed to land a few…

Daddy with one his Kings.  He was the top fish producer on the boat.

Daddy with one his Kings. He was the top fish producer on the boat.

Carl's biggest King took a while to land.  It nearly spooled the reel several times.

Carl's biggest King took a while to land. It nearly spooled the reel several times.

This fish swam around the anchor line a few times.  He knew what he was doing.

This fish swam around the anchor line a few times. He knew what he was doing.

We even caught a few nice trash fish.

Looks like sushi, but it's not.  These False Albacore put up a heck of a fight.

Looks like sushi, but it's not. These False Albacore put up a heck of a fight.

 All of the fish were caught on live shrimp.  I had one Hardtail rigged up on a King rig for a couple of hours.  It never got a bite.   The shrimp were freelined behind the boat in the chum slick with about 1/4 oz of weight.  They didn’t seem leader shy at all.  We mostly used #6 or #4 treble hooks.   The frozen chum we used was mostly Menhaden oil, sardines, canned Mackerel, oats, bread and sand.  There were some canned shrimp in there too.

It was not the most traditional way to catch King Mackerel, but with a little frozen chum and some live shrimp you can easily fill up the cooler in June in the Gulf of Mexico.

Brief post on Mobile Bay

January 2, 2009

Hi this is a test.  Check out this article about Mobile Bay.

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