Numerous boat ramps give anglers quick access to fish on the Mobile Bay Causeway.
I was anchored within easy sound and sight of the Causeway between Mobile and Spanish Fort on the upper Mobile Bay. The quiet morning on the water made me so thankful that I was not one of the thousands of folks driving across the Causeway to get to work.
Nope, I was not working this day. I was doing what I love to do—fishing along the Causeway.
This fine morning I’d been catching some nice eating-size sheepshead and under-slot size reds from a hole of deep water. It’s a nice 20-foot and deeper pocket of water in the Apalachee River. Just for the heck of it, I cast my live shrimp on the other side of the boat, over toward the muddy shore of the river.
My shrimp began to sink as the cast settled, and I figured I’d be able to reach for a bottle of water. I didn’t expect any reds or sheepshead to be over on the shallow side of the water. And I was right.
However, I’d just grabbed my water bottle when my rod was rudely jerked almost out of my hand. I didn’t have a bronze-coloured redfish or a black-and-white striped sheepie hooked. I did have something green and white with a darker stripe on its side.
It took a little bit to work the strong fish to the boat, but there it was—a fine two-pound largemouth bass,
Now, isn’t that a thing! I could catch saltwater fish on one side of the boat and then, using the same bait, catch freshwater bass on the other side.
However, that’s not an uncommon occurrence when I fish the Causeway. The Mobile Bay Causeway offers a little bit of everything for anglers.
Some History and Background
Officially known as the Battleship Parkway (although I don’t know anyone who calls it by that name), the Causeway has crossed upper Mobile Bay since it was constructed in 1926.
Before the Causeway was built, motorists had to either go by ferry across Mobile Bay or drive 80 miles north to a crossing at Jackson, Alabama, above where the Alabama and Tombigbee rivers connected.
Built of raised earth embankments with concrete bridges over the major rivers, the seven-mile-long Causeway carries lots of traffic on US Highways 90 and 98 along its four lanes.
Now, if the construction of the Causeway sounds a whole lot like the construction of dams around the country, well, that’s right. The Causeway is built in many ways just like a dam. And the effects of the Causeway on the water flow of Mobile Bay have been much like the effects of a dam. The Causeway has very much affected the free flow of water into Mobile Bay.
In fact, studies have indicated that less than 20% of the original flow of water reaches the head of Mobile Bay since the construction of the Causeway. Calls have been made to build raised bridges and otherwise open the free flow of water under or around the Causeway.
Whatever the effects of the Causeway, it’s here to stay, and anglers can be thankful of one big effect of the Causeway; it gives them easy access to some great fishing.
What Can You Catch?
A number of fine public and private boat ramps along the Causeway give anglers quick access to fishing of all kinds. Anglers can head north into the Delta and fish for bass, crappie, bream, and catfish. If it swims in Alabama’s warm freshwater, it lives close to the Causeway.
“It’s very common for anglers fishing the waters of the Causeway to catch a mix of freshwater and saltwater fish.”
Anglers in boats can turn south and fish around the Causeway or run out into Mobile Bay and never leave sight of the Causeway and its sister road—the I-10 Expressway—and catch reds, specks, and big jack crevalle—even red snapper have been caught in deep holes quite close to the Battleship near the Causeway.
As indicated in the opening of this article, it’s very common for anglers fishing the waters of the Causeway to catch a mix of freshwater and saltwater fish. That makes it important for anglers to have BOTH kinds of fishing license. Both freshwater and saltwater can be caught on any Causeway fishing trip.
Along with the day-use public ramps scattered along the Causeway, there is also a very nice RV park—Mayer Park—on the Causeway. It offers RVers with boats a new ramp and quick access to the Blakely River and the rest of the Causeway fishing areas.
How to Fish the Water around the Causeway
When I asked my experienced sources how to fish the Causeway waters, their first response was consistent: Get some live shrimp!
Everything that swims in the Causeway waters—freshwater, saltwater, or even the gators that pull up on the shorelines and logs to sun—will eat shrimp. A typical Carolina rig with a fairly light sliding weight, say ¼ oz in most cases over a hook (some anglers like small trebles, but I prefer a #4 kahle hook) will work fine for most Causeway fishing trips.
Most of the Causeway launch areas and bait shops will have live shrimp nearly every day. You can see the hard-working shrimp boats pulling shrimp out of the major rivers of the Causeway waters most days.
Scott’s Landing on the Spanish Fort end of the Causeway and Lap’s new establishment toward the middle of the Causeway both have shrimp almost every day.
For folks unfamiliar with the waters around the Causeway, it never hurts to look around and see where the other folks are fishing and how they are fishing.
Quite often, birds will circle and dive over schools of shrimp and baitfish driven to the surface by bigger feeding fish below. Using the birds as fish finders is a Causeway tradition that works very well.
Also, look for places where smaller creeks and bayous empty into the main Delta rivers. These places very often hold redfish.
Another traditionally dependable situation to find reds is anywhere old pilings or other wood structure is located near deeper water. These places will also often hold bass, and a largemouth bass thinks a live shrimp is a fine thing to eat.
If the water level is high enough for easy and safe motoring across the flats of the Causeway, old duck blinds are some of the best places to find bass, reds, and even sheepshead around the bridges.
Especially in the fall when large schools of shrimp are moving up in the rivers to spawn and then moving out of the rivers as the weather cools, it’s possible to drift a large shrimp on a heavy rig along the bottoms of the major rivers for some very big catfish and bull reds. Blakely River on the eastern side of the Causeway is my favorite.
Be warned: I’ve had 30-lb test line broken by some very large catfish at this time, so don’t go under-gunned in the fall.
Several places along the Causeway are ideal for anglers who don’t have a boat to pull over, park, and be fishing in a matter of moments. The best places to do this are those locations where water passes under the Causeway itself. A number of smaller culverts create a lot of current as the water moves either in or out of the Delta area.
Fishing under the Admiral Semmes Bridge can provide a nice supper of croakers and smaller reds along with the occasional flounder for shore-based anglers.
My fishing buddy, Robert Dobson of Foley, Alabama says, “In June, live bait is readily available, but I still catch a lot of fish on GULPS! fished on jigheads. There’s a good top-water bite in June for both specks and reds. Also, slicks will start forming in June, and these will indicate feeding fish under the surface.”
Andrew Carter of Krazy Kjun fishing Charters has taken me on some fine Causeway fishing trips, and he says, “In June, bass will be on the grass beds.”
Here’s a little hint: when fishing for bass around the Causeway, you will want to have a black and blue Snagless Sally spinner on hand. The bass love them, and reds will absolutely explode on a Sally pulled near them.
Captain Andrew adds, “Flounder will be on ledges and drop-offs if the water is salty enough. If heavy rain and flows from up north have lowered the water salinity, the flounder won’t be up above the Causeway.”
Captain Andrew continues. “The best time for fishing the Causeway begins in September when the water temperatures start to drop and when the shrimp start to move. All of the fish will follow the shrimp. Specks will be on fire on the Eastern Shore of the area. Reds will be around the Causeway most of the time, but they’ll really pile up there in September.”
No place short of heaven is perfect, and the Causeway is not perfect, either.
Anglers visiting the Causeway need to be aware of a few things before striking out for a trip.
First, the Causeway is very tide influenced. When the tide is in, there can be plenty of water to go lots of places in safety. However, when the tide is out, water levels will be much lower, and boat travel can require much more attention.
Especially in wintertime, a low tide and a strong north wind can practically empty Mobile Bay of water, and the Causeway waters can get very shallow. So pay attention to the tides.
High waters from upstream floods can bring a heavy load of muddy water from farms and clear-cut timber to the Causeway and the Mobile Bay. When this happens, anglers can find either very good fishing, or the bite may shut down entirely.
It goes without saying, if a serious tropical storm or other strong southern flow occurs, don’t go to the Causeway. The road of the Causeway is not far above water level, and when a storm comes in the Causeway is just about the first place to flood in the high storm surge.
The waters around the Causeway are not the place to go wading—for any reason. The bottom of the Mobile Delta around the Causeway is deep, dark mud, and a wader will very soon become stuck, and seriously stuck. So don’t try to wade a boat to deeper water. Just wait for the tide to come back or get a kind person to help pull a stuck boat off the mud.
Finally, in the warmer parts of the year, make sure you have good bug repellant on hand. The mosquitoes and no-see-ums can be fierce sometimes when fishing around the Causeway.
Other than these things, there’s no better place I know of for an angler in South Alabama to have a great day outdoors close to home.
Oh, yes, on a positive note; the Causeway is home to some of the best fresh seafood restaurants in the world, and they don’t mind serving tired and hungry anglers who have been fishing the waters around the Causeway.
It’s a good and refreshing way to end a great day outdoors.
Important Contact Information:
Captain Andrew Carter
5901 Battleship Pkwy