with Captain Lynn Pridgen
Think you need a huge boat and big motor to enjoy saltwater fishing? Think again. Drag your jon boat or bass boat on down to Mobile to catch a bunch of redfish, flounder and sea trout. This is a great month for putting some of those tasty fish in the freezer.
The network of rivers and bays around Mobile is huge and complex. Big open water has small creeks and cuts off it and the rivers split, turn and twist, offering protected areas to fish even in the worst weather. Multiple boat ramps allow you to put in near a good fishing spot so you don’t have to make long runs and a small open boat is fine if you pay attention to what you are doing.
If you are a freshwater fisherman you will have to get used to rising and falling water, but you probably have some experience fishing current on rivers or reservoirs. Coastal fish respond the same way, but the current runs two ways every day and falling water can get you into trouble if you don’t watch what you are doing. Many areas are very shallow so don’t run through an area unless you check it out first.
Sea trout, also called specks, weakfish and speckled trout are some of the best eating fish you can catch. They don’t fight real hard but they are plentiful. Redfish, also called reds and channel bass, are hard fighters and were made famous with the “blackened redfish” recipe. Flounder will give you a fight but are better on the plate than at the end of your line.
Those three species are the targets of most coastal fishermen. In November they are in the rivers and creeks feeding on shrimp that are getting ready to head to the ocean. They set up on ambush points to feed and you can catch all three species on consecutive casts with the same bait on most spots. You can also catch sheepshead, white trout, whiting that are called ground mullet locally, freshwater cats and bass on these same places. That is one of the fun things about fishing around Mobile; you never know what you are going to catch.
Captain Lynn Pridgen grew up in Saraland and his father was with the police department. They had a house on Mobile Bay where he spent the summer fishing with his father and cousins. He now has a house on the water and he fishes about 100 days a year. Around 40 of those days are taking fishermen out on guided trips. He also fishes saltwater tournaments in the area.
In late October through the month of November Captain Lynn keys on shrimp that the fish are eating when he goes after trout, reds and flounder. He concentrates on trout but enjoys catching all species. Lynn uses a variety of lures and jigs to catch them, and will use live shrimp.
“Fishing just gets better and better from late October through November and into early December,” Lynn told me. Right now is the time to head to the cost to take advantage of this fall feeding spree.
Captain Lynn’s artificials include Mirror Lure topwater baits, DOA shrimp, H&H Coastal jigs and Rat-L-Traps. Jigs are fished on a tight line or under a popping cork like the Cajun Thunder, or in a tandem rig. He will fish live shrimp under slip corks or under the popping cork.
If the water is clear Lynn likes clear with gold flake jigs and lighter colored baits. If it is stained he goes to baits with chartreuse in them. He fishes his baits on spinning and casting tackle and likes 10 to 14 pound Big Game line, sticking with 10 pound test most of the time unless fishing heavy cover.
Captain Lynn showed me the following places to catch fish and all are good from now until the water gets cold and the shrimp are gone. Fish these spots and learn what to look for, then you can find many other similar places.
1. N 30 39.788 – W 88 01.735 – Put in nearby and head to the small island in the mouth of the Mobile River just downstream of the docks on the west side of the river. Start on the east side point of the island and work to the upstream side, to the ships tied up that the Coast Guard uses for training.
Ease along looking for jumping shrimp and fish chasing them or fish “tailing” or feeding in the shallows right on the bank. Lynn says this is a good place to sight fish for reds. If you see them working shallow cast a live bait, DOA shrimp or topwater in front of them and work it across the line they are moving along. Cast a topwater bait to any surface activity you see.
This is a good spot to look for “slicks,” too. When the fish feed, oil from the shrimp or baitfish will come to the top and form small oil slicks about the size of a dinner plate. If you spot slicks cast to them.
2. N 30 39.025 – W 88 01.994 – Starting at the coal docks on the west side of the river you can catch fish all along the river front, fishing docks and cuts on both sides of the river. This is a big area and Lynn says he fishes a lot of tournaments here since it is near the open water and bigger fish tend to be here. You can work spots all the way up past Magazine Point where the high bridge crosses the river.
Start just downstream of the coal dock. You will see a line of old pilings running parallel to the shore and they mark the edge of a drop that holds fish. The water is about two feet deep at the pilings but 18 feet deep just off them. Keey your boat out in deeper water and cast topwater and jigs under corks to the pilings and work them out. Then cast shrimp up near the pilings under a slip cork and ease them down the dropoff.
N 30 40.023 – W 88 01.902 – A little ways upstream on the west side you will see a long concrete dock running parallel to the bank. Lynn likes to work along it, drifting life shrimp or a DOA shrimp under a cork into the shade under the pier. All three species of fish hold near the pilings in the shade here.
N 30 40.566 – W 88 02.063 – Further upstream on the east side you will see a big “Atlantic Marine” crane and there is a small point just downstream of it. Fish around this point and the dock on it with topwater and popping corks, working from the bank out. The water is deep near the dock where it was dredged. Fish with the current to give your bait a natural movement.
N 30 40.978 – W 88 02.048 – Go on upstream and you will see an old brick building with broken windows. There is a dock on the point and a cove just downstream of it. Start at the point and work the dock and bank, the one on the side of the building, going in. There is lots of rubble on the bottom so fish over it with topwater or a popping cork. If you fish to the bottom you will get hung. Concentrate some casts around the drain pipe outflow.
N 30 41.251 – W 88 02.096 – Up past the brick building are some vertical tanks right on the bank and there were stacks of pallets on the bank the day we fished. It is across from the cruise ship terminal and a point in front of the tanks is a good spot to fish. You can work all the way back to the bridge then fish back out. There were some schooling fish here the day we fished.
All the docks along both sides of the river here can be good. These are some of Captain Lynn’s best ones but you can locate spots of your own here.
3. N 30 44.294 – W 88 02.613 – Above the high bridge Chickasaw Creek splits off to the west and there is a railroad bridge across the mouth of it. A good drop off is at the bridge and this is another good place to drift baits under the bridge to catch fish holding there.
N 30 44.775 – W 88 02.419 – Upstream of the mouth of the creek on the west side of river outflow pipes create boils where paper mill discharge water is released. Lynn says this is a good place to throw a cast net to get bait and you can often find schooling fish here, too.
4. N 30 46.260 – W 88 01.395 – Spanish River cuts off to Grand Bay north of the outflow pipe and a power line crosses here. There is a red channel marker off the point and the base of the power line tower is in the water. There is a row of old pilings under water on this point from near the channel marker to the bank so be careful, but get out and work the drop along them. Topwater and slip corks with live bait work good here.
This water is more brackish and you are more likely to catch some freshwater species, but reds, specks and flounder feed here. Lynn says the outgoing tide is best since it pulls bait out of the grass and the game fish can get to it easier. Drift your bait with the current to make it look more natural. On an outgoing tide you can anchor near the channel marker and drift your bait down the row of pilings.
5. N 30 47.089 – W 88 00.444 – A little ways upstream the river splits around Twelve Mile Island. Take the right fork, not the one with the channel. Not far from the split you will see some old sunk barges on your right. There are several that you can’t see, too. Fish the edges of them with a slip cork or popping cork. Also try a Rat-L-Trap fished parallel to the edge of the barge. The water is 12 to 13 feet deep along their deeper sides and fish hold here and feed.
6. N 30 47.617 – W 87 59.469 – Further upstream on this side you will see the mouth of a small creek joining the river where is makes a bend. Any creek mouth is good this time of year and this one is no exception. In fact, this is one of Lynn’s favorite spots.
There is a flat where the creek dumps into the river and Lynn will anchor on the upstream side of it and drift bait across the flat. He also keeps a topwater bait ready since he often sees shrimp jumping and fish busting them here. When you see that action, cast to it as fast as you can.
7. N 30 48.433 – W 87 59.537 – The upstream point of Twelve Mile Island where the river splits is a great place to catch fish. Lynn calls it “Budweiser Point” and he catches a lot of fish here. There is a red channel marker on the point on the river side.
This is a good place to anchor upstream of the point and drift baits back along both sides of the point with an outgoing tide. The point forms a drop on either side and fish hold along it feeding on bait moving with the current. You can fish here for hours as the tide starts to go out. The stronger it gets the better the fishing gets. Lynn says the outgoing tide is best and an incoming tide is OK but it is very hard to catch fish on either slack tide.
8. N 30 49.200 – W 87 56.954 – Up the river the Ship Channel cuts off to the left going upstream. This canal was dug when the ‘Ghost Fleet” was mothballed over in the Tensaw River above Gravine Island. There is a good drop on the upstream point between the river and the canal and Lynn fishes along the drop and grassline in both directions depending on the tide movement. This is a spot where trout and reds concentrate when they really move in feeding on shrimp.
9. N 30 48.417 – W 87 55.666 – Run through the Ship Channel and stop on the upstream point where it joins the Tensaw River. Across from you is a big beach area on Gravine Island and the water opens up in front of you. Anchor on the upstream side of the point and drift your bait across it with the current. The point had a good drop off into the channel.
This big open area is also a great place to find schooling fish. Lynn always watches for birds feeding or shrimp jumping and heads to any activity since that usually means a school of fish feeding. Ease up to them and you can catch a lot of fish. If you get into the school it will put them down. Topwater baits, popping corks and Rat-L-Traps are all good for schooling fish.
10. N 30 48.207 – W 87 55.303 – The river side of Gravine Island is a good area to fish. Lynn stays out from the bank and works up current with his trolling motor for better boat control. He casts topwater plugs, vibrating plugs, slip corks and popping corks here, depending on what the fish want. Try them all until you hit the right combination.
11. N 30 46.164 – W 87 58.530 – On the downstream end of Gravine Island the Raft River cuts off and runs over to Grand Bay. Lynn says the fish use this river as a highway and it is a good place to drift fish, letting the current carry your boat along while bumping bottom with jigs and live bait. His favorite area to drift is where the “S” bend straightens out just upstream of the moth of Oak Bayou.
Position your boat off the shoreline on top of the drop and let the current take you and your bait along. Raise and lower your rod tip to keep jigs and live bait right on the bottom. When you start catching fish mark the spot and when they stop hitting crank up, go back upstream to where they started and make another drift through the same area.
12. N 30 46.205 – W 87 58.502 – The point between Oak Bayou and the Raft River is another good point to fish. There is some wood under water here and a stump just off the point on the river side. Fish it with all your baits, working from the edge of the grass out.
13. N 30 44.678 – W 88 00.063 – Run down the Raft River to where it starts opening up at Grand Bay. There is a string of islands on the right between the river and bay here and the cuts and points all along here are good places to fish. Set up on them and let your bait drift with the current. Keep hitting different places until you find the fish. When you hit where they are feeding you can fill your limit.
Find a ramp near one of these spots you want to fish. Get some live bait or stock up on artificials. Follow Captain Lynn’s advice and you will catch fish.
To get a first-hand view of how Captain Lynn fishes, call him at 251-214-5196 or visit his web site at http://www.captlynnsinshoreadventures.com/ to set up a guided trip. He will take you to some good fishing as well as teaching you how to catch all the different saltwater species.