Transition Time Means More to Do on the Water
It’s been a long enduring summer. Not as hot in the beginning, but plenty hot on the tail end. Flooding rains during June and July kept a lot of fishermen guessing as to what to do. However, after things started clearing up, all sorts of fish started cooperating. Now that September has arrived, maybe we can start finding fish in their transitional areas. Let’s look at a few places to try.
White trout should be available in good numbers around most of the Mobile Bay gas rigs. Fresh cut squid on the bottom will tempt the whites. Should you connect repeatedly with your squid, you can switch to plastic grubs to have even more fun. The tuxedo-colored Cocahoe (white with black back) grub is a great selection for this type of fishing. In addition to white trout, there should be some nice ground mullet around the rigs as well. Squid will be the bait of choice for the grounders. Be sure to use a very small hook (number 6 or 8) to accommodate the small, down-turned mouth of the ground mullet. This small attention to hook size can prevent a lot of frustration and missing of fish.
“There should be a decent amount of shrimp on the move in Mobile Bay this month. Be on the lookout for seagulls swooping down on the shrimp being driven to the surface by hungry fish below.”
There should be a decent amount of shrimp on the move in Mobile Bay this month. Be on the lookout for seagulls swooping down on the shrimp being driven to the surface by hungry fish below. Position your boat up the current flow of the bird activity and allow your boat to drift into the fish. Toss out live shrimp under a cork for best results. If you don’t have live shrimp, you can also catch the fish on artificial shrimp. The D.O.A Shrimp, as well as the Vudu Shrimp, will fool the competing fish below. These fish could be one of several species, especially the farther north you go in Mobile Bay. The fish pushing the shrimp could be reds, specks, whites, gafftopsail catfish or even skipjack.
Fishing around the larger structure, such as wooden day buoys and Middle Bay Lighthouse in Mobile Bay, can result in nice catches of speckled trout this month. Float a live shrimp under a cork to pull out the hungry moving specks from the structure.
Tripletail should still be available in the bay this month as well. Look for floating debris, logs, grass mats and buoys to find the tripletails. Change depth at least once before leaving a spot so you won’t miss out on a bite.
Offshore anglers are coming off a most satisfying red snapper season. At first, the feds offered up only three days devoted to red snapper in federal waters. Outcries from recreational anglers and hard work by the legislative body helped steer the feds to a more realistic season. Hopefully, by next year there can be a compromise that would satisfy most people.
Since snapper are off limits after Labor Day, anglers going offshore will have to target other species. With some planning and a little luck, you can still put a few fish in the box this month.
If there is any angler who knows about a “little luck” it has to be Johnny Salter of Mobile. Salter’s name was drawn as the winner of the Contender boat package given away to a lucky angler who entered a qualified fish in the 2016 Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo. The boat, valued at more than $60,000, was just icing on the cake of a trip aboard the Lady Ann during the rodeo.
Salter had this advice for those going offshore this month: “September will be a great time to catch plenty of both king mackerel and Spanish mackerel. I suggest working the rigs offshore with live bait. I would take along some croakers, pogies and hardtails. You can tie off to the rigs or anchor down. Float out some of the baits under a balloon set at about a 20- to 25-foot depth. You can also expect to catch a few bonito or even a ling fishing this way.”
When moving from spot to spot, you should be observant of any debris you encounter according to Salter. “We run across fish hanging out under debris and weedlines while traveling. Always look around to see any fish flashing around. Most times, it will be small dolphin that most people call ‘chicken dolphin.’ You can cast out a small jig to entice the fish and once you have one hooked up, you should let him dance around the boat to attract others.
Waters will still be pretty warm in September, so finding bass near current will be a key factor in landing some this month. Look for waters “dumping” out of creeks and into the rivers. Shallow-running crankbaits work well at these areas of current and slightly cooler water. Move up into theses creeks looking for grass edges or wood structure. Even the smallest sticks protruding through the surface can hold bass. If you don’t get any takers on the crankbaits, switch to dark, soft plastics and work structure thoroughly.
“Waters will still be pretty warm in September, so finding bass near current will be a key factor in landing some this month.”
White perch will be holding in some of these same creeks as well. Drop a minnow around the structure to tempt the crappie. The crappie will also hit small live shrimp or even the smaller seed shrimp. Just put on a few of the seed shrimp to make up for the small size of the bait.
Out on Big Creek Lake, anglers can still find schools of fish driving shad to the surface. Stacey Hatten of One Shot Sports 251-645-0403, says September is a good month to target stripers on Big Creek.
“The water is still hot on the lake in September and the fishing for stripers is hot too,” she says. “Anglers ease along the lake with binoculars or keen eyes looking for a disruption of the surface. That disruption is normally shad being driven to the surface by aggressive stripers. Getting upwind and tossing Rapalas or Rat-L-Traps in chrome take the majority of the fish. This activity will go on till the first major cold front.”
There is no question that many fish are in a stage of transition during the month of September, prior to fall. However, there are still fish to be taken and fish fry’s to be had this month. After all, what goes better with the beginning of football season than some fresh fried fish?
See you on the water!
Tuxedo colored Cocahoe Minnows
Squid or shrimp at Dauphin Island
Jemison’s Bait and Tackle