Fishing in Brackish Water for Bass
The Mobile Delta’s waters are the perfect setting and environment for fishing in brackish water to host both saltwater and freshwater species of fish in November.
Certain anglers take advantage of this odd mixture and use frisky live shrimp to catch fat and sassy Delta bass on fiberglass poles. A 14-foot pole, bent in the shape of a horseshoe, usually means a bass.
However, with so many fish feeding on the abundant shrimp, who knows what’s on the end of the line?
“Each fall, those who enjoy the back to basics approach to catching Delta bass with a live shrimp and fiberglass pole, head out in search of areas that will be holding Delta bass.”
Each November brings some of the finest, most consistent, bass action along the coast of Alabama in the Mobile Delta. Positioned north of the head of Mobile Bay, the Delta is the home of an abundant population of bass year-round. However, due to the fall brackish water environment and abundant food choices, it’s hard to find a more consistent time of year to target bass.
While Delta bass are known for their fondness for small blue crabs, the bass are also treated to another marine creature on the fall menu. That marine creature is the white shrimp. White shrimp move into the Delta during spring and spawn in the brackish water environment. Millions of white shrimp call the Delta their fall home. This influx of shrimp has its followers—mainly bass.
Coastal Alabama anglers are also amongst the followers of the white shrimp and their predators. Again—mainly bass. Each fall, those who enjoy the back to basics approach to catching Delta bass with a live shrimp and fiberglass pole, head out in search of areas that will be holding Delta bass.
Ray Britt, of Mobile, has long pursued bass, or “green trout” as longtime Delta anglers call them, during the month of November. According to Britt, nothing can compare to catching bass on live shrimp in the fall.
“During the month of November, the white shrimp population is at its peak in the Delta,” Britt says. “Bass are gorging themselves on this once-a-year bounty and anglers have a chance to take advantage of this. Using live shrimp to catch bass is a no-brainer, but there are a few tricks you need to know.”
Structure is Key
Bass in the Mobile Delta gorge on the huge population of white shrimp calling the Mobile Delta their fall home. Bass will stage around a structure, which could be grass beds or wood along many of the Lower Delta’s rivers.
Targeting these areas is the recipe for success, according to longtime angler Britt.
“I’m looking for any downed trees or stumps along the river banks and in the creeks of the Lower Delta,” Britt says. “Depths of four-to-eight feet are ideal to catch bass along the rivers. Dropping a frisky live shrimp alongside these pieces of structure can result in corks submerging and poles being bent to the max.”
Britt says the white shrimp use the grass edges and wood structure to hide from predators. Because of that, bass will key on these areas.
“Obviously, shrimp use the grass beds and edges along the rivers as a place to hide from predators,” he confides. “The grass edges are usually pretty thick, offering a great place for the shrimp to hide. The wood structure also offers shrimp a hideout.
“However, bass know this and will target shrimp on the wood. It’s not unusual to see a white shrimp clinging to a log to avoid being inhaled by a shrimp. Bass seem to sense this tactic and will patrol any wood structure along the rivers and creeks.”
Catching bass on live shrimp does have its limitations, according to Britt. You must pay attention to tides, especially when fishing the Lower Delta rivers.
“The best time to target structure along the rivers is about one hour before low tide and for the next hour after the tide starts coming back in,” Britt explains. “During this time period, the water velocity is low, which allows your live shrimp to remain in the strike zone for a longer period of time.
“When the tide picks up and you have difficulty keeping your shrimp by the structure in the rivers, it’s time to hit some of the Lower Delta creeks. The tidal current is not as strong in the smaller creeks, such as Crab Creek, Conway Creek, and Little Bateu Creek. Find structure in any of these creeks in November, before the rains set in, and you could find bass fishing gold.”
Small number-six bream hooks work well. If you get hung on the structure, the small wire hooks will straighten out if pulled with a steady grip. The hooks can be easily bent back into shape with a pair of needle-nose pliers.
“I like the small bream hooks because they don’t weigh the shrimp down.” – Ray Britt
Long stake poles, tied to the side of the boat, will keep the boat secure. By using a fiberglass pole, rigged with a small cork, split shot and a very small wire hook will allow anglers to drop the live shrimp right beside the structure where the bass are lurking.
“I like the small bream hooks because they don’t weigh the shrimp down,” Britt says. “And as for as actual weights go, I only use a spit shot big enough to keep the bass from swimming to the surface.”
Fishing the Mobile Delta in fall can offer anglers lots of fish options, including freshwater fish such as bream, crappie, and catfish. In addition, there will be multiple saltwater options as well. Redfish, speckled trout and sheepshead are all November visitors to the Lower Delta.
“One of the best things about fall fishing on the Delta is the variety of species you will catch,” Britt says. “Oftentimes, when fishing a structure with live shrimp, I will get light bites without getting a hookup. When that happens, I pinch off a piece of one of the live shrimp that has died and use it to fish with. Nice bream and crappie can be caught at the same location, five-feet apart.”
One of the bonus fish that excites Britt the most is redfish. ”Hooking up a two- to four- pound redfish on a fiberglass pole is one of the most fun things to do in the Delta. The bruising reds will bend your pole into a horseshoe shape. Add to that the whine of the monofilament line as it slices through the water and you’re bound to get a thrill.”
Live shrimp is the ticket for fall Delta bass. You need a live well that is well aerated. If you fish out of a boat without a live well, you can put together a makeshift live well pretty simply.
“I use an ice chest and battery-operated bubble pump and hose, Britt says. “At the end of the hose is the air stone. You have to be very careful with the stone. These stones are very easy to break. Treat them gently, because if you break or crack the stone, it won’t put out properly.”
What must you do when your live shrimp dies or you run out? In years past you had to pack up and head home. Not anymore! Today’s bait manufacturers have turned out some unbelievable shrimp creations that fool bass.
If you only target bass a few times a season, try out the Brackish Bass of fall on the Mobile Delta. The thrills and excitement of being one-on-one with the bass on the fiberglass poles without a drag setting is addictive.
See you on the water!
Live Shrimp on the Causeway
Shirley’s Bait and Tackle