The fishing is starting to get red-hot on the western shore of Mobile Bay.
Fall is nice down here on the Gulf Coast of Alabama, but a fall day is even nicer when the morning is calm and clear, and the water shows the movement of bait. And then the unmistakable movement of larger fish making a breakfast of the bait in the mouth of a bayou that empties into popular Mobile Bay fishing spots.
“A feeding game fish makes for a perfect start to a perfect fishing trip on the western shores of the mighty Mobile Bay.”
But no matter how nice the November morning feels and how pleasant watching the sun coming up might be, the skitter of frantic shrimp leaving the water and the heavy swirl of a big fish chasing them are just too much for a normal angler to ignore.
A quick cast to the movement in the water is soon followed by an immediate strike. I call it fall fishing fever. A feeding game fish makes for a perfect start to a perfect fishing trip on the western shores of the mighty Mobile Bay.
A wealth of bays and rivers on the western shore of Mobile Bay await anglers. In fact, you’ll experience some of the best and fastest inshore fishing to be found anywhere.
When it comes to getting the best information on a particular fishing spot, it’s hard to beat local and experienced knowledge. And when it comes to the Mobile Bay fishing spots and checking out the Western shores, we call on our old buddy, Yano Serra of Coden, Alabama. He knows the ends and outs of the bayous and rivers that feed into the Bay, it would be very difficult to find an angler and guide more experienced and knowledgeable than him.
Captain Yano guides clients on the waters of Mobile Bay and the streams and bays that feed into the Bay. He feels that November can offer some of the best fishing of the whole year.
What are These Bays and Rivers?
When we asked Captain Yano about places on the western shore of Mobile Bay that are good in November, he told us that the entire Mobile side of the Bay is good. Still, he has some definite preferences that have paid off for him in the past.
All of the prime November fishing bays and rivers are easily accessed by exiting I-10 and going south on Dauphin Island Parkway. It’s very easy traveling to reach these great Mobile Bay fishing spots. Moving from north to south on the Western Shore, anglers won’t go wrong by visiting and fishing Theodore Industrial Canal, Fowl River, Heron Bay, and Dauphin Island Bay.
The Theodore Industrial Canal is a good-sized place, and it’s quite deep. Since it serves the needs of large deep-draft ships, the TIC is kept dredged. Anglers can use these deeper waters which provide a warmer-water haven for specks, redfish, and flounder when the November water temperatures start to drop. Good launch facilities can be found at Deer River Bait and Tackle.
Moving south along the Western Shore of the Bay, Fowl River can be a great fishing spot. In fact, it harbors a whole lot of great fishing spots for November anglers.
Captain Yano says, “By working the deeper water around bends in the river, anglers can find good concentrations of specks and redfish. Also, look for oyster shells on the bottom; reds like these places in the river. Anglers have great access to Fowl River from Pelican Reef Marina.
Heron Bay is the next stop on our angler’s tour of Mobile Bay fishing spots on the Western Shore. This large open body of water offers a number of creeks and bayous that serve as pathways to the white shrimp which usually migrate from the inner waters out to the Bay and then into the Gulf.
Also, Heron Bay has a very deep hole which lies nearly directly under the bridge for the Dauphin Island Parkway. This deep hole—over thirty feet—holds great flounder and reds during November. Jemison’s Bait and Tackle is very reliable put-in for Heron Bay
Finally, Captain Yano recommends anglers try Dauphin Island Bay. This open body of water has several sloughs that run from Little Dauphin Island just across the bay from Dauphin Island itself. Also, anglers should try the deep holes in the channels and around the launch site at Billy Goat Hole on Dauphin Island. Some very good redfish have been caught around dock pilings and deep holes just off the channel which lies north of Dauphin Island.
What Can We Catch in November?
When asked what sort of fish can be caught from Western Shore waters, Captain Yano laughs and says, “Everything! All of the usual inshore fish are here, and they want to eat!”
Redfish are a favorite of many inshore anglers, and reds can be thick in the bays and rivers of Mobile Bay in November. One good thing about fishing for reds is that almost all sizes of spot-tails are present in the shallow water in November. Yano tells us that anglers can find reds from 10-inch-long puppy drum up to bull drum; 30-inch and larger fish.
For those of us who are addicted to sight-fishing, it’s possible in November to find tailing reds working the shorelines of bays and rivers. These fish are not particularly spooky. A quiet pole or paddle can put a boat into position for a long cast and an immediate hookup.
Speckled trout come into the shallower water of the Western Shore rivers and bays in November, too. Anglers can often find massive schools of one- to two-pound specks working the mouths of creeks and bayous that empty into the larger bodies of water. These schoolie-sized trout can be caught on just about anything that looks like a shrimp. For the larger yellow-mouthed trout, anglers will have to look around for them. They won’t usually be found with the smaller trout, but they will be looking for something sizeable to eat.
Finally, the third part of the usual November inshore fishing scene—flounder—will be moving into shallower waters. Yano tells us that some very good flounder—four pounds and larger—will be holding on the drop-offs of creeks and river channels.
If we should have low rainfall in late summer and early fall, the waters of the Western Shore will clear enough that some excellent flounder gigging can take place in November, too. In all of the bays and creeks of the Western Shore, sticking a three-pronged gig into some big flatfish is a fine way to spend fall evenings.
A very important point that Captain Yano makes about fishing in November in the Western Shores waters is this: The fish are in certain spots to find and eat shrimp. The white shrimp that have spent the summer feeding and growing in the grasses and backwaters of the bayous are in the process of migrating from the skinny water out into the deeper waters of the Mobile Bay and then into the Gulf.
As the fall weather cools, the migration picks up. Anglers who want to catch fish in November will need to be aware of such factors as water temperature, rainfall, and rainfall runoff. All of these can greatly impact the fishing in November.
Yano says, “Last year, we had very little rain, so the shrimp didn’t go far out of the creeks in November. The water was salty enough right in the mouths of most creeks to be good for the shrimp. So that’s where the fish were. This year, we’ll just have to see where the shrimp are.”
How Do We Catch Them?
For actually catching the big three quarries, Captain Yano has some very good advice. “For redfish, if I can get live shrimp I use that. However, dead shrimp will usually work well. I use a popping cork with the shrimp, and I pop the rig and then let it sit. Be careful! Sometimes in fall, the reds won’t even take the float under. If the cork moves off to the side just a little, set the hook. It’s probably a red.”
Captain Yano really gets excited when he talks about catching speck trout in November. “I love it when the water cools to 70 to 72 degrees,” he says. “That’s the golden condition for specks. Look for shrimp jumping out of the water. When specks are feeding on shrimp moving from the bayous and creeks, they get very aggressive, and top-water bites in the morning can be lots of fun.”
When asked to name a specific lure he likes to go to during November, Yano advises anglers to get a Mirro-Lure Mirrodine with a black back and white belly colors. He has found specks to bite this lure very well in the fall.
“I love it when the water cools to 70 to 72 degrees,” Captain Yano says. “That’s the golden condition for specks.”
Flounder can be found in very good numbers in fall as they, too, respond to the white shrimp migration. Anglers should try Swimming Mullet Gulp! scented bodies on ¼ oz jigheads. Pink and yellow are usually very good colors to attract the toothy flatfish.
Captain Yano says, “Just drag the jig across the bottom. You will get hung up some, and you will lose some tackle. However, sometimes when it feels like you’re hung up again, that ‘snag’ will start to swim off, and that means a flounder is on the line.”
Anglers can very slowly and quietly use the trolling motor or paddle to move along a Western Shore channel or creek and look for fish. The water in November is usually clear enough to allow good sight-fishing, and anglers can sometimes see working fish from a distance.
“I ease down banks and look for fish,” Yano says. “I’m looking for 15 or 20 fish together. When I see a school, I ease away, put the Power-Pole down, and make long casts to them. November fish are not too scary, but you can’t slam hatches or stomp around. Try to keep the noise low. I treat every fish like it has bionic ears.”
Final Advice for These Mobile Bay Fishing Spots
The Western Shore of Mobile Bay fishing spots is a very good place to find some great fish. Anglers in Mobile and Baldwin Counties don’t have far to go to find great fishing. The weather in November is usually just about as nice as weather ever gets down here on the Coast.
Captain Yano has some good final advice for anglers who want to get into this fall fishing on the Western Shore of Mobile Bay.
“November fishing requires a strategy,” he says. “It’s different from summer fishing. The fish have moved from deep water where they spent the summer, and they’ve gone to the shallows to find the migrating shrimp. Successful anglers need to pattern the fish and the fishing. First, anglers need to go to a lighter line. The twelve-pound test is good, and lighter may be needed, especially if the water is clear.
“Next, heavy bottom-rigs which might have been needed in the summer don’t work too well for reds and specks in the fall. I use the lightest Carolina rig possible when I’m fishing in the fall. Sometimes I’ll use a small split shot for weight. If possible, I don’t use any weight at all; just the hook and the shrimp. This allows a very delicate presentation to shallow water fish. I recommend a small, gold treble hook for live bait fishing in November.”
Yano concludes, “Remember, fishing in November is finesse fishing. Be as quiet as possible and use as light a tackle setup as you can. And be sure and hold on. There are some big fish in small waters in November!”
Important Contact Information:
Deer River Bait and Tackle
7560 Deer River road
Pelican Reef Marina
11799 Dauphin Island Parkway
Jemison’s Bait and Tackle
16871 Dauphin Island Parkway
Captain Yano Serra
Speck-Tackle-Lure Inshore Charters