Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine Vol 40 - No. 4 FALL 2016 - Page 32

Gulf Coast Closeup (Continued from page 11.) always help land it. People who frequently fish the pier might be able to gaff it or drop a net to bring in a large fish. Most pier fishermen are very willing to help others.” As water cools in the fall, most pelagic fish migrate to warmer climes. However, they often binge on baitfish before leaving the area. From late September through November, anglers frequently see massive schools of jack crevalle terrorizing baitfish. After the larger predators leave, anglers usually catch more speckled trout, redfish, flounder and whiting as competition for bait and the threat of becoming a big predator ’s lunch diminishes. “In the fall, whiting fishing gets really good,” Thornton advised. “They are very delicious fish and extremely good fighters for their size. They are fun to catch on light tackle. On clear days, people on the pier can see schools of whiting coming up to feed. Amongst the whiting will be scattered pompano, redfish, trout and bluefish. It’s always a good mix all year long.” Besides offering an excellent place to fish, the pier also exists as an educational facility. Placards along the rails provide information about fish species, birds and other creatures. “Pier visitors have an opportunity to see fish being caught and learn about different types of fish, birds and marine life,” explained Kelly Reetz, a state park naturalist. “Sometimes we see huge schools of fish or some dolphins. We might see fish herding bait into a ball and birds attacking the baitfish from the air.” Many people visiting coastal Alabama stay at Gulf State Park, which occupies 6,180 acres of prime real estate along the beaches. The park rents cottages and cabins that overlook a freshwater lake. Campers may also erect tents or park recreational vehicles at improved sites complete with water, sewer and electrical hook-ups. Many people from up north spend the entire winter at the park. “We have quite a few people who come down to stay at the park for long periods during the winter,” Williams said. “Some of them fish every day. We try to make the atmosphere nice for everyone, not just locals. It’s a family atmosphere on the pier. The regulars are usually more than willing to help anyone and give advice on tackle or baits. People saying at Gulf State Park can get a free sightseeing pass and discounted fishing passes. People who want to fish the pier can buy a daily, weekly, monthly, semiannual or annual pass.” Anglers in south Alabama can also visit other piers. The longest privately owned pier on the Gulf Coast, the Cedar Point Pier in Coden near Dauphin Island offers good action for inshore species such as redfish, speckled trout, black drum and flounder. Several piers along the eastern shoreline of Mobile Bay also offer anglers good access to inshore species. The longest pier on Mobile Bay, the Fairhope Municipal Pier in the town of Fairhope, extends 1,448 feet into the bay. The site dates back to a commercial fishing pier built in 1894. A more modern pier opened in November 2006 after Hurricane Katrina destroyed a previous structure in 2005. Farther up the bay, people can visit Meaher State Park in Spanish Fort. Anglers can fish from a 300-foot pier with a 200-foot “T” at the end. Anglers might catch saltwater species like redfish and flounder or freshwater fish such as bass and catfish. See Gulfshorespierfishing.com for tips, photos and fishing reports. For more information on Gulf State Park and the Jim Eysvogel shows off a butterfish he caught while fishing the pier. Chris Sherrill, executive chef at the Flora-Bama Yacht Club and co-founder of the Nuisance Underutilized Invasive Sustainable Available Noble Culinary Endeavors or NUISANCE Group, encourages people to eat more underutilized species and give anglers more opportunities to catch and eat more fish. Chris is shown making pinfish ceviche at the pier. 32 GULF COAST FISHERMAN pier, see www.alapark.com/gulfstate or call 800-ALAPARK. Tasty Jack Crevalle? Group Encourages Anglers to Try Less Popular Fish by John N. Felsher Many people consider jack crevalle sporting fish, but nothing to drop on a dinner plate. Chandra Wright, a tourism specialist in Gulf Shores, Ala., challenged Chris Sherrill, executive chef at the FloraBama Yacht Club to come up with a recipe to make jacks palatable before a congressional staff delegation visited the Alabama coast. “I thought jack crevalle was inedible,” the chef admitted, “but the bloody red flesh looked like raw beef. 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