Some of the best fishing in the Gulf of Mexico is found off the coast of Gulf Shores, Alabama. With less than 10,000 residents, this small community is nicknamed “Small Town, Big Beach.”
While many flock to the beaches in this region, true anglers know that this is prime fishing grounds for inshore, nearshore, and offshore fishing.
Gulf Shores has excellent inshore fishing year-round. There are always fish waiting for your hook from the bays to the bayous. The fish of choice is Redfish and Speckled Trout, which are available throughout the year, but many other fish species are in these waters at different times of the year.
Redfish are a popular fish for their fighting prowess and for their delicious taste, and you can find them in great numbers here in Gulf Shores. In fact, Gulf Shores may be the best place in the entire Gulf area for this fish.
When you fish for Redfish, you are bound to come upon schools of Speckled Trout as well as they make the waters of Perdido Bay, Mobile Bay, Little Lagoon and the backwaters home as well.
Other fish you may come in contact with are Pompano: from March to October with a peak time in July and August, Sheepshead: from February to May with a peak time in March, Black Drum: from March to October with peak time from May to June, Flounder: from April to October and Tarpon: from May to September, as well as other fish including Jack Crevalle, Sea Trout, Bluefish and Kingfish.
Nearshore fishing is within 10 to 20 miles from shore. It is easy to get to this area, and in Gulf Shores, there are plenty of places to drop your hook.
Gulf Shores has over 17,000 artificial reefs and is, in fact, one of the largest artificial reef systems in the world, and many fish call these reefs home.
On any given day, you might encounter Bluefish, Cobia, Flounder, King and Spanish Mackerel, Pompano, Sharks of all kinds and many varieties of Snapper, including the most sought after in the Gulf the <a href=”https://travelfish.net/red-snapper-fishing-in-the-gulf-of-mexico/”>Red Snapper</a>.
Offshore the reef system continues, and farther out, you have the oil rigs and even farther is the deep blue Gulf of Mexico waters.
The oil rigs are around 75 miles offshore, and you need to go 100 miles or more for the giant monsters of the Gulf.
In the reef system that does stretch far offshore, you can find the same fish as at the nearshore reefs with other species, including Grouper, Greater Amberjack, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi and Tuna.
However, you need to head out to the oil rigs and deep waters to find most of these big game fish. It does take some time to reach your destination offshore, so you should plan on a long day, a night trip or even a few days on the sea.
Out over 100 miles offshore are where the Blue and White Marlin, Swordfish, Tuna, can also be found here along with Wahoo and Dolphin.
In Alabama, there are some rules and regulations you need to adhere to. If you are on a charter boat, those rules will be strictly enforced, but you need to be advised of them if you venture out on your own. First, you need to have a valid fishing license. When you go on a charter, there is a permit that allows the guest of the charter boat to fish the waters of Alabama. Second, are the fishing seasons. These are strictly enforced with heavy fines. There is a $500 fine for Red Snapper and $50 per fish. There is also an Amberjack season and Triggerfish season. There are, of course, also size limits and a limit on how many fish you can bring home for each species as well. Professional guides know all of these regulations and ensure that the fisherman under their charge will know what is right and wrong and provide a happy, fun time on the water.
Due to the amazing fishing, the Gulf Shores area is home to a few tournaments throughout the season. There are no major tournaments right in Gulf Shores, but there are several prestigious events in Orange Beach. Four of them are done right out of the Orange Beach Marina, and another is down the road a bit over the bridge at the Flora-Bama Marina.
The Flora-Bama Rodeo is held at the Flora-Bama Marina, located on the Florida and Alabama state line border off of Pedido Bay. It is dubbed “The Funnest Fishing Tournament on the Gulf Coast” because there are many festivities and parties throughout the Rodeo.
There are many categories, from best Catfish to Marlin and everything in between. It is held in June and is the first major tournament in the area. At the beginning of July is the “Blue Marlin Grand Championship.” It is said to be “The Greatest Show in Sportfishing.” It is televised and live-streamed worldwide and lasts for five days. Sixty boats try their best in many categories: Heaviest Marlin, Heaviest Tuna, Heaviest Dolphin and Heaviest Wahoo.
At the end of July is the “MGBFC Billfish Limited Tournament,” where teams of three or more vie for prizes for catch and release Billfish and Tuna, Wahoo, and Dolphin. This is the men’s tournament, and the ladies’ tournament starts the next week and has the same format as the men’s.
On Labor Day weekend is the annual “MBGFC Labor Day Invitational.” This is a unique tournament as it caters to the large boats usually used in tournaments and allows smaller boats to attend. The categories are the same as the other tournaments, but every angler searches for one thing. They are searching for a Marlin that exceeds the Alabama State record of 845 pounds. If someone gets lucky and hooks a monster Marlin bigger than the record, they will walk away with a cool $1,000,000.00 prize.
One more tournament I want to mention is the “Kids Win Fishing Tournament” held at the Wharf Marina in Orange Beach on August 21st. Here ages 3-7 (the small fry) and 8-12-year-olds (the big fry) try to catch the biggest, longest, smallest, most fish caught and weighed and largest pinfish. Unlike other tournaments, every kid is a winner and gets a trophy or other prizes. More importantly, it is a great day having fun on the water for the kids.
Gulf Shores is called “little town, big beach” for a reason. There are 32 miles of beaches along the Alabama shoreline, and the entire shoreline of Gulf Shores is one big beach, the Gulf Shores Beach. The beach has powder white sand and gentle, warm, blue waters.
The town and the beach cater more to the family than to partiers. However, there are all kinds of watersports at the beach. Kayaking, Paddleboarding, Parasailing, Water Trike, Banana Boat Rides, & Jet Skis can all be found at Gulf Shores and surrounding areas. Gulf Shores has many resorts and beach houses to stay at right on the beach. Some of the more popular resorts are The Best Western on the Beach, The Lodge at Gulf Shore Park, The Beach Club and Kiva Dunes. These are some of the best resorts, and probably the most expensive, but there are plenty of inexpensive options, maybe not located on the beach, but that does not matter that much because the town is small so that you will be near the beach. There are many crosswalks leading to the entrance of the beach. The beaches at many resorts are private although not strictly enforced ( the pool is prohibited unless a guest of the resort). But you can take leisurely walks down the beach, and you shouldn’t be asked to leave.
The beach is not the only thing to do while in Gulf Shores. Most of the activities to do are not located in town but somewhat out of the city, but not far away. Orange Beach is not more than 10 miles away, and it has some activities that will excite the kids and shopping for mom.
The Adventure Park is where you can ride go-karts, play laser tag, play games in the arcade, mini-golf, and even have an erupting volcano. Also in town is The Wharf. There is the Wharf Ferris Wheel which is great fun and is especially great just before sunset and at night when all the city’s lights are shining. Staying with amusement parks there is The Park at OWA is a short drive from town in Foley, but it is one of the best amusement parks in Alabama with over 20 rides, including a rollercoaster.
There are plenty of other activities for the kids and the kid in all of us. The Gulf Shores Zoo is home to over 200 species, some of which are endangered. There are many animal enclosures like the kangaroo enclosure. Also, for a different type of animal experience, Aligator Alley is where you get up close and personal with many tiny babies and large adults. Don’t forget to see the show! Both will take a short ride out of town, but both are worth it. There is also The Pirate Ship Tour in Orange Beach, where you and your kids can become pirates for the day. Orange Beach also has all kinds of dolphin-watching tours to choose from.
There are also a few places in and around town to get close to nature. Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge is a beautiful place with endangered species and plenty of nature trails, and the beach is also a prime area for sea turtle nesting. The Hugh S. Brayon Backcountry Trail is one of the most popular tourist sites to visit in Orange Beach. You can walk through marshes, swamps, and forests. There are six different ecosystems found here. Alabama Point East is a nesting area for snowy plovers, various shorebirds, and other birds like loons for bird lovers. It is also a critical habitat for several animals.
The Wharf, along with having the Ferris Wheel, is a fun place to visit for those that love to shop and play. There are places for souvenirs, small boutique shops, plenty of restaurants to choose from, and bars. There is an amphitheater where you can see some great shows and so much more. It is an excellent place for the family or anyone.
Gulf Shores may be little, but it is a great place to visit, especially if fishing is on your mind. There are plenty of options for you to choose from and many charter services to choose from too. You can do your research to find the perfect charter, or you can save a step and select one of our specially vetted charters here at Travelfish. We make sure that all of our selections are the best in the business and will get you on the fish and ensure you have a great time on the water.
With incredible fishing inshore, nearshore, offshore and deep out in the ocean, blue Gulf Shores Alabama is your choice for a great fishing vacation. Whether you want to hook up with some Redfish, some tasty reef fish, or want to catch one of the top sport fishes, the waters of Gulf Shores are ready for you. Come and experience a fishing trip that will give you memories that will last a lifetime.