Finatics Fishing Charters offers every kind of fishing you could think of in and around the Gulf of Mexico and the Mobile Bay system. With that being said we cut our teeth and continue to target SPECKLED TROUT more than any other fish. Along with being a wonderful fish for the dinner table, it is a great fish to target whether you’re a novice or a seasoned fisherman. They can be caught all year long and have a 10 fish per person limit in Alabama.
In this post I am going to be focused on the novice fisherman that we regularly take and hope to educate them on what to expect on their charter. We have so many people that have never been fishing and just simply have no idea what they will be doing, so if this can reach them before their trip I hope it will ease the minds of everyone involved.
Starting in early March thru late August we are fishing in the lower part of Mobile Bay and the Mississippi Sound leaving out of Dauphin Island and Fort Morgan, AL. The typical trip leaves the dock about 15 minutes before sunrise. You will meet your captain at the boat launch closest to your location with your group ready to go. We ask that you bring whatever you would like to eat and drink, Sunglasses, Hats, Camera and plenty of sunscreen. An onboard cooler with ice will be provided to hold and chill your drinks. After everything is put away and secure your captain will have a quick safety meeting. You will be shown where the life jackets and fire extinguisher are located and how to operate each piece of equipment. Now the FUN begins.
Armed with plenty of live shrimp, we will push away from the dock and head to the fishing grounds. Depending of what the time of year dictates where we fish. We will talk about early spring fishing (March-April) first. This is primarily in shallow water (2-5 feet). Very early morning is usually best over oyster shells and grass beds, and along the south side of Dauphin Island very close to the beach.
Popping corks with live shrimp and croakers are the weapon of choice this time of year. Before I get into how we are going to use them I will explain what they actually are for those of you that have never seen them. We use the FAIRHOPE RATTLE CORKS, and this is a description of these corks from http://www.fairhoperattle.com.
“This is the original Fairhope Rattle. This cork was thoughtfully designed by our team of fishing guides, providing you with a fast resetting popping cork that will stand the test of time. Our stainless-steel wire and 3/8 oz egg weight separate our corks from the rest, with the ability to cast these corks a country mile. The Fairhope Rattle features the brightest cork combinations out there with our bright orange float, and tie dye beads. All Fairhope Rattles are carefully handmade by the Bousson family.”
These corks are attached to the braided line on the reel with a leader of fluorocarbon from the cork to the hook. Depending on the depth of water this leader is usually 18-36 inches. The cork is designed to make a popping sound by a sharp jerk of the rod tip. This simulates the sound a trout makes attacking bait at the waters surface. Once the fish eats the bait, the cork disappears and the fight is on!
Sometimes we get lucky and land on the mother load of fish at the first stop, but that’s not the norm. Speckled Trout are a schooling fish and move around a lot over a large area. So it’s normal if your captain picks up and moves around a lot until they find the school. But when you do find them it will be something to remember.
As the morning moves on and the temperatures rise, the fish will migrate to deeper water. This is not a problem, it just usually requires a different tactic. THE SLIP CORK. Also from Fairhope Rattle.
The largest advantage to the slip cork is the ability to fish different depths, up to 25 feet in some cases. You will cast just like you would with the popping cork or for that matter an artificial lure. The cork is free floating along the line with a bobber stopper (small piece of string) tied on to your main line to set the depth. This can be changed many times by sliding the stopper up and down the line until the correct depth is located. Below the cork is usually a 1/2 oz weight, a couple small beads and a swivel. Below the swivel is approximately 2 fee of fluorocarbon leader and a hook.
Once the cork hits the water, the bail on the reel is left open to allow the bait to drop to the desired depth where the bobber will stop on the top of the cork, and then you wait for the bite. Another difference here is, unlike the popping cork there is a lot of slack in the line. This means that the traditional hook set might not make contact with the fish. As you see the cork disappear into the water, instead of setting the hook you will just start reeling. When you feel the line get tight, it’s time for you to set the hook and again the fight is on!
Now lets talk about summer(May-late August). Again leaving before sunrise, we will target the Gas Rigs in Mobile Bay, deeper structures and the Dauphin Island Bridge. The temperature is usually so hot this time of year that the fish usually stay in deeper water where it is cooler. A little trick we use is to keep constant contact with these fish. What I mean by this is not lifting the rod up and down while you are reeling. This creates slack in the line which is bad because Speckled Trout have very soft mouths and when the hook becomes tight it will create a large hole in its mouth. If slack is introduced into the line, you can bet that the odds of the fish popping off increase greatly.
By mid-morning hopefully we have plenty of fish, sunshine and fun. Your captain will stow all the gear, make sure everyone is seated with an ice cold drink then head to the dock. This is where your work is over but not ours! We will remove the fish from the boat and arrange them so you can have as many photos as your group could ever want. I always say take more photos than you think you need because you can always delete them. After photos you will just have to find a nice place in the shade, or if you want stay with the captain while he cleans and prepares the fish for you to take home.
There are a wide variety of ways to cook these fish. Don’t forget to ask the captain His/Her favorite way to prepare them. But don’t forget to go to our website http://www.FINATICSCHARTERS.COM and take a peek at our recipes page. There we have detailed instructions of how we like to cook them at our home.