The time is right for anglers to find some great small water redfish.
A big smile shines on the face of Robert Dobson, a veteran inshore angler from Foley, Alabama as he has success when fishing for redfish. He displays a fine bronze-colored slot size redfish where he hooked it off a thickly-wooded shoreline up Wolf Creek in Baldwin County.
This slot red and several others of the same or slightly smaller size came to Robert (known as BT-66 to most of his friends) on a variety of lures that he worked near cover and along channel drop-offs.
It’s a good thing when a person who has the skills and experience of a veteran angler offers to help those who may not be as well-prepared to find and catch when fishing for redfish in late fall. Robert Dobson is always willing to give good advice to help others get into fishing.
Where Are They in General—Deep Holes, Structure, Flats?
When we asked Robert Dobson the general type of water where we should be looking to find November redfish holding, he says, “Fishing for redfish in November will be in the turns of the bayous. Look in the bends of the streams where the water is somewhat deeper than the rest of the water.”
Dobson continues, “I always look for structure—logs, old docks, tree stumps. Redfish will hold on anything solid in the water. Whatever it is, even a tree limb sometimes, it will be something solid for the reds to hold near.”
“Redfish will hold on anything solid in the water.”
Dobson advises anglers to be prepared to go pretty far up the bayous in their search for November reds. “I like to go as far up the bayous where I can still see baitfish moving,” he says. “This time of year, it will be finger mullet. The alewives and shrimp have all moved out of the smaller bayous by now.”
As a final bit of advice, as one starts looking into the smaller bayous when fishing for redfish in the fall, Dobson says, “In the smaller bayous and creeks, in general, there aren’t many flats. The reds will be holding in deeper water. Now, deeper water may mean different things in different bayous. A deep hole that redfish find attractive may only be two feet deep or it may be six feet deep. As long as it’s deeper than the surrounding water and as long as it presents something different from the rest of the bayou, reds will gather there.”
Will They Be Scattered or Schooled Up?
Anglers who are looking for big concentrations of fish probably won’t find that situation with fishing for redfish in the smaller creeks of Mobile Bay.
Fall redfish just don’t school up as speckled trout do. It’s possible to find one or two reds in a specific location but in general, fall reds are just looking for deeper pockets with something to break current and provide cover.
Also, late fall is not the best time to look for bull reds in the lower Mobile Bay bayous. A few strays in the big fish category may show up from time to time, but most of the reds found in the bayous this fall will be lower slot-size fish.
These are still lots of fun to catch. As for eating, these small slot fish are the best.
What Bait or Lures?
When it comes to choosing the best bait for November bayou reds, anglers face a little bit of a dilemma. While it’s very true that no redfish will ever turn down a nice live shrimp, it can be difficult for anglers to find live shrimp at local bait and tackle shops.
“It’s hard to find live shrimp in November,” says Dobson. “This is especially true if we’ve had bad weather with high muddy water. This makes it very hard for the shrimpers to go out and catch bait shrimp. Bull minnows, mud minnows, and cocahoe minnows can all be good if you can find them.”
So November is usually a time in which anglers will be using artificial lures to catch reds. That’s not such a bad thing.
Dobson says, “There are lots of lures that will work well in the small bayous on redfish. Bass Assassins, spinner baits, GULP! soft lures, and my favorite—Splatterback Bandit crankbaits. All are very effective on small bayous reds.”
Now, it’s crucial that if anglers want to really successful when fishing for redfish in November in the small bayous, artificial lures must be worked near to the structure in the streams. In fact, it’s best to actually contact the logs, limbs, docks, stumps, or whatever the present structure is, with the lure.
“Redfish anglers should not be surprised if other species turn up from time to time.”
A red will often hit a lure when the lure bumps into the structure. It’s much like bass fishing in this way. Something about the lure bumping into the structure and then coming free triggers a strike from redfish.
Put in its simplest form, Robert Dobson tells us, “If you don’t get hung up from time to time, you’re not fishing the lure right.”
Redfish anglers should not be surprised if other species turn up from time to time. November is a good time to encounter puppy drum (juvenile black drum) which often are held in the same places in the bayous as the redfish. Also, sheepshead are found in the smaller bayous, but these fish are much more likely to be encountered if the angler is using live bait, especially live shrimp.
What Are Some Specific Places?
Mobile Bay is a massive body of water, and there are many bayous and streams that feed into the main body of the bay. Any and all of these tributaries are good possibilities to hold redfish.
On the west side of the bay, anglers can look at the many feeder streams that run into Dog and Fowl Rivers. There are several bayous that empty into the Mississippi Sound near Bayou Le Batre. Little River, in particular, can be very good when fishing for redfish.
Robert Dobson specializes in fishing the eastern shore of Mobile Bay, and he gives us some good places to start a November redfish hunt on the east side of the bay.
He says, “The Magnolia River can be good. Look at any of the waters around Nolte Creek or up near the Ski Run on Magnolia River. Again, look for shoreline cover and structure. In Bon Secour River, go upstream from the boat launch at Aquila’s and fish the Stump Field. It’s at the mouth of the largest bayou that enters the Bon Secour River from the left as you head upstream.
In Wolf Bay, which is not actually a part of Mobile Bay but it’s very close, Wolf Creek below the CR 20 Bridge can be quite good in November.”
Any Cautions or Warnings?
Although our November weather in South Alabama is very rarely cold enough to require any special cold weather gear, it never hurts to have a hooded parka in the boat in case the wind turns chilly. And a lightweight rain suit is never a bad idea during this time of year.
All it takes is a slight drizzle to make a fine fishing trip quickly turn unpleasant.
Another warning: Robert Dobson urges small bayou boaters, “Be careful on low tides if you’re running your boat at speed. We get low water conditions in November and it’s easy to hit something with the motor.”
Be especially careful of running up on old crab traps. Getting an old crab trap unstuck and unwrapped from an outboard lower unit is not a fun way to spend an hour on the water.
Of course, not all things on the small bayous present problems. One very good thing about these places during this time of year: very few mosquitoes and deer flies.
The nasty little biters have usually thinned out from their summertime clouds. Otherwise, fishing for redfish in November can be very pleasant, especially when a few nice reds show up to play.