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Catch Redfish in Mobile Bay

The Alabama gulf coast is a popular vacation destination for many reasons. However, one is growing in popularity everyday. More and more people are coming to Alabama and they want to catch slot redfish to bull redfish in Mobile Bay. Both local anglers and out of town guests are wanting to feel the hard fight that an Alabama redfish can provide. Redfish aka red drum is a popular game fish species that has a home range from Northern Mexico, along the entire gulf coast around the tip of Florida and up the Atlantic Coastline up to the Virginia Coastline.

Blackened Redfish Craze

In 1980, New Orleans chef Paul Prudhomme publicized his famous recipe for blackened redfish which sparked the “blackened redfish craze”. This craze nearly wiped out the adult redfish population in just a few years, due to overfishing. The overfishing was done by commercial purse seining vessels in the open waters of the Gulf. Spotter planes would locate the school of fish and radio in the location to the commercial fishing vessels. Those vessels would encircle the whole school of fish in one swipe.

Comeback story

By 1986 the Commerce Department had to close down the redfish fishery due to over harvesting. By 1990 redfish were moving towards recovery. This process takes time. Bag limits, slot limits, banned commercial harvest and the reduction of gill nets have all played a huge role. Additionally many states have created mariculture centers to help increase local stocks. Now 32 years later Alabama is witnessing some of the best redfish fishing along the gulf coast.

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Slot redfish

The slot size redfish in Alabama is 16″-26″ and an angler may keep up to three fish per person. This size redfish is typically a one to four year old class fish and is not sexually mature. Slot sized redfish are often found in the marsh and tidal river areas around Mobile Bay. Slot redfish will commonly feed on crustaceans like shrimp and crabs but will readily consume bait fish live pogies, glass minnows, finger mullet, pin fish and croakers.  Artificial lures can often be used to target slot sized redfish however live or fresh dead bait is often the most productive.

Bull Redfish

The adult redfish or bull redfish as we call them in Alabama is any redfish over the length of 27″.  Bull redfish are sexually mature and will go through spawning rituals during late August through early November. The spawning ritual usually takes place in the Gulf where salinity levels are greater than 25 parts per thousand. These fish can be found in large numbers during the late summer through early spring near the mouths of the bay and along the gulf beaches. The main diet of a bull redfish is other fish like mullet, pogies and LY’s but a bull redfish will really eat just about anything that it thinks is food. Bait selection for bull redfish is usually whatever you can catch in a cast net close to where you are fishing. Bull redfish will readily take artificial lures like topwater plugs, crankbaits, soft plastics, and swim baits.

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Catch redfish in Mobile Bay

Over the years the redfish population is growing and the popularity of catching them is increasing. Things I’ve learned recently about catching more redfish in Mobile Bay. First, I had to slow down, as an avid speckled trout fisherman I often find myself wanting a bite almost as soon as the bait hits the water. This can happen but not as often as it does when catching speckled trout. Second, in many cases I found that allowing the bait to hang just above or actually lay on the bottom the redfish will find it better. Third, put your bait tight to the structure and or grass or waters edge. Redfish are often found cruising in around wooded pilings or tree stumps. Last thing I have learned is that redfish and undesirable fish can often be found only a few feet from one another. If you are getting alot of croaker, pinfish or catfish bites then make small adjustments because the redfish are often close.

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Book a fishing trip

Booking a fishing trip to learn how to catch more redfish in Mobile Bay. I have become a better redfish angler over the years and always willing to share what I’ve learned.