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A stretch of cold weather over the next week should be the spark to really turn on the hot fishing action on the lower Mobile-Tensaw Delta. (Jeff Dutefirstname.lastname@example.org)
The biggest issue fishermen on the Mobile-Tensaw Delta are going to face for the next few days is some dingy water stirred up by a north wind that howled in the wake of a cold front that blew through Wednesday night into Thursday morning.
The wind combined with strong outgoing tides lowered water levels allowing the current to scrub mud from the banks. Once the wind stops blowing so hard, it shouldn't take more than a day maybe two for the water to clear up since rain associated with the cold front's passage is not expected to cause an appreciable rises on the big rivers.
The wind is forecast to calm a little each day through the weekend. Fishing conditions should really be good by Saturday afternoon into Sunday when the outgoing tide begins slowing down.
Falling tides and water temperatures are two factors that often lead to the migration of great numbers of white shrimp out of their Delta nurseries. Water temperature was hovering around 66 on Tuesday, said inshore guide Andrew Carter.
He said once it continues to drop as it should over at least the next week, the fishing should become more consistent above the Causeway, especially under diving gulls picking off shrimp as they're chased to the surface by feeding speckled trout and maybe even redfish.
Carter and I agreed that this cold front combined with a longer period of nighttime air temperatures in the 40s and 50s may just be the weather change that turns on the Causeway bite for real.
There were a bunch of birds working the mouth of Pass Picada and both sides of the island in the Apalachee River Thursday afternoon. Most were "lying" terns, but there were enough laughing gulls mixed in to make me believe that fish were actively chasing shrimp.
The mouths of creeks, passes and rivers across the lower Delta could be loaded with fish waiting to ambush shrimp leaving the adjacent bays on the falling tide.
On the rising tide, white shrimp will usually bury in the mud in deeper holes and channels. That's when trying the "do-nothing drift" in the channel or on the channel edges becomes very effective.
Chris Vecsey at Sam's in Orange Beach said the wind has restricted where anglers can fish down that way, but they've been able to find safe refuge from the wind inshore and the fish are hungry.
The black snapper bite is still very good around Perdido Pass and around most structure just inside the pass, he said. Live shrimp and small baitfish will work very well.
Along with the snapper, flounder and redfish have made strong showings. The flounder have been in good numbers in Perdido Pass and out along the beaches. Live bull minnows and shrimp have been best.
Redfish are pretty much everywhere, from the upper creeks to offshore. The bull reds have been schooling just off the beaches in great numbers this past week, providing good action to surf anglers and boaters alike.
Boaters can get in on big numbers of reds crashing bait by running the beaches and looking for birds as well as feeding fish up top. Casting various jigs, spoons and flies into the mix will usually result in an immediate hookup.
On days when fish aren't active on the surface, Vecsey suggests trolling deep-diving plugs in 20 to 25 feet of water and watching the depthfinder for bait schools or schooled reds.
From the surf, casting chunks of fresh mullet will work very well, he added.
Other than reds, nice-size pompano and whiting are in the surf in good numbers.
While fishing a slow bite Sunday morning in Gulf Shores, Vecsey landed a 4-pound pompano and nice whiting.
The best baits have been sand fleas and fresh shrimp, but he suggests keeping a rod rigged with a pompano jig as well. He caught the 4-pounder on a jig.
The rough seas have kept many fishermen from going further out offshore.
Just prior to last week's cold front, Vecsey said dolphin were in very close and the inshore guides were able to put their clients on good numbers of them and king mackerel within a few miles of the pass.
In the last two weeks, Vecsey found large schools of dolphin within 6 miles of the pass and caught large numbers of them. These fish haven't been large, but Vecsey says an 8- to 10-pound dolphin on light tackle is as fun as it gets.
Once it calms down, anglers should find out pretty quickly if the dolphin stayed throughout the cooler weather. Kings and Spanish mackerel should still be in good numbers, though, and will keep rods bent while trolling.
Bass fishing remains good in the creeks and I heard two reliable reports that some good fish are being caught from around the I-10 Bridge pilings.
The creek action will only get better as bass move out of the main rivers and into their winter refuges.
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