Alabama, A Fishing Paradise
Now that we're in the last few days of spring, we've had a few great days for weather, and a few days with some heavy rain. But the days I've found a chance to slip out and fish have been the best of the bunch, and with any luck, we'll have more good weather ahead of us, as we're steadily getting into proper fishing season.
Just about everybody knows I enjoy catching some bream, as they're easy and fun to fish for. And sure enough, in the many lakes and ponds in our state, we have plenty of places to go bream fishing. Just a cane pole, some crickets, or maybe some worms, and you're set. Of course, those same simple farm ponds also typically contain large-mouth bass and catfish, which are bigger and stronger than a simple bluegill. Bass didn't just get their reputation for being a sports fish by letting you pluck them from the water without a single splash! They fight back. Catfish, of course, are just big, heavy bottom-feeders that aren't too keen on leaving that bottom of the pond or river. As they can grow to some pretty immense sizes, they tend to put up a good fight.
Of course, if you're the more adventurous and bold type of fisherman, you can always go noodling for catfish, which is pretty much sticking your hand in a hole in the mud that a catfish has made for eggs and trying to provoke the catfish into biting your hand. Crazy as it sounds, this works, but I will say this. Never try this alone, and make sure you've got some good buddies that have some experience noodling to help you learn, as snakes, snapping turtles, and other hazards can make for a bad day in the water if you're not prepared. Those reptiles enjoy hiding in the holes catfish have previously made, and unlike catfish, they have some pretty nasty bites. For these reasons, and others, noodling is only legal in 15 states, one of which is our own Alabama. So if you're up for the challenge, feel free to look up some groups for noodling and have some fun.
Our lakes in this state also have the same bream, bass, and catfish, but also have some bigger fish to look for. In Lake Martin, you can find stripers which can grow up to 60-70 lbs.! My friend, Captain David Hare of Alex City Guide Service, is a seasoned veteran for striper fishing and provides guide services for live bait fishing on Lake Martin. He provides all the bait and equipment, you just bring your own food and drink. He gets the shad for bait, and much like bottom fishing, you'll want to get the bait down pretty deep. If you've never been striper fishing before, you absolutely need to give it a shot. Feel free to drop them a line at 256-401-3089 if you're interested! As a man who enjoys his grouper, I can vouch that striper tastes fairly similar, so if you want the fun (and the food) from a deep-sea style fishing outing, but want to just hang out by the lake, striper fishing is for you!
Of course, we have more water nearby than just what's land-locked. Along the southern coasts, we have plenty of artificial reefs which make for some excellent red snapper fishing. Now, there's been some recent controversy about red snapper fishing, in that our nation's regular season, or recreational season, only runs from June 1st-11th. However, charter boat captains with a federal license will have a 44 day season, ending July 15th. Now, this is a drastic improvement over the 9 day season everybody was lumped into last year, but a lot of privately-operating fisherman are a bit unhappy that they're still restricted.
The thing to remember though, is that these are all conservational measures. As they get better data on what the snapper population looks like, these fishing laws will change to accommodate the large demand for snapper fishing. The downside to all of this though is the restriction of access to a natural resource; the fish. It's a delicate situation and is going to require a lot of careful planning and management to get the seasons and access correct. Of course, this helps out charter captains tremendously, as they can now do some proper business, as snapper fishing is a big draw.
As for me, I'm still pretty satisfied with my bream fishing, though I plan on dabbling into whatever kind of fishing I can get into! I hope everyone else enjoys this great weather we have now, as it's gonna start heating up pretty soon. So get your hook wet and go get'em!