Don’t Bring a Trout Rod to a Jack Fight!

Rich Ellison

As I write this we have just survived Tropical Storm Gordon. As best I can tell, it was just some rain and wind; nothing too sensational. Unfortunately that means the water will be screwed up for a little while. Prior to the storm, fishing hadn’t been half bad. I cut back on the night trips and focused on day time fishing. I spend the majority of my time fishing from Fairhope to Daphne. With all the rain in August, I knew I needed to head south in search of saltier water, especially if I wanted trout.
I knew exactly where I wanted to fish, but needed help putting together a pattern on unfamiliar waters. I contacted Scott Kennedy of Whistlin’ Waters Kayaking Charters. He did a great job showing me around. I scored early trolling out with a quality bull red (Pictured, courtesy of Scott). The rest of the morning was a tad slow. But we caught a few trout; such is summer time fishing. Anytime you go somewhere unfamiliar, a good guide is invaluable. If the pro’s do it, it’s not beneath you!
I returned to the same general area I had just fished. I explored and put a few trout in the boat. A friend and I fished the same trout hole, with the same bait. I caught fish, but he did not. The only thing separating our approach was a fluorocarbon leader. If you want to catch fickle trout, you better have a leader. I hooked my first Jack Crevalle while trolling soft plastic on the return to the launch. If you’ve never hooked a Jack, you’re missing out! That thing dragged me around for over 20 minutes. The rod in use was a 7’ St. Croix that is no stranger to bull reds & big trout. Just when I thought I had him played out (so I could get the ever important picture for proof!) he saw my boat & dove straight down! Broke my rod just above the handle! That was a very expensive lesson & one I won’t likely repeat; not a half bad fish tale though…
I have done a little night fishing. Dock lights anywhere in salty Baldwin County waters will likely produce some redfish. On a 1-10 scale, it’s a 6 right now. Not great, not terrible. As we push into September the temps will slowly drop and the trout will slowly move North in search of shrimp; provided the rain holds off. Redfish are always around the causeway; they’re far less affected by rain. Don’t be surprised if you pick up a few flounder before they migrate to the Gulf for the fall spawn. If you catch a flounder, it will be one of 2 types: Gulf or Southern. The former will have 3 dots & the latter will be splotchy all over. Both are excellent table fare.
Quality gear is essential to a successful fishing trip. I like a Shimano Stradic reel, but my much less expensive Penn Fierce 2 will do everything the Stradic does. I like a 7’ medium action rod with a fast tip usually. My St Croix was snapped, but my back up Lightning Rod & Redfish Magic are holding their own. There are hundreds of baits to choose from. If I had to pick 1, it would be a chartreuse ¼ ounce jig head with a cocahoe minnow. Colors can be anything from white to black. My personal favorite is black with a chartreuse tail, but you need to match the water. If it’s clear, natural is the way to go.
Summer may have come to an end, but great fishing is just starting. While all your buddies are watching football and going to deer camp, be sure to get on your favorite waters. As always have a float plan and your pfd. Wear sunscreen and watch out for boats that may not see you. This is my favorite time of the year to be on the water!

Rich Ellison
Outback Fishing Adventures