Alabama’s Dauphin Island offers hot angling when you need a getaway
I’ve always enjoyed learning and fishing new stretches of saltwater. As much as I love my home waters of Galveston Bay along the upper Texas coast, there’s something to be said about figuring out how to successfully catch fish in a new locale. So, when the opportunity came up for me to go fishing with Capts. Nick and Jeff Poe out of Dauphin Island, Alabama, I jumped on it.
The Poes recently moved their fishing charter service that was on Calcasieu Lake, a little farther to the east. They’re now operating as Reel Gypsy Fishing, and run both inshore and nearshore trips from Dauphin Island and other nearby lower Alabama ports and harbors.
Familiar “Island Time” vibes greeted me upon my arrival to Dauphin Island. The relaxing atmosphere, Gulf Coast breeze and local eateries and businesses immediately made me feel right at home. It was a new island with a welcoming environment.
As familiar as the atmosphere was, so was the fishery. We spent three days in pursuit of quality speckled trout in the Mississippi Sound, and the fish did not disappoint. They staged and fed in areas with specific characteristics, just like they do back home.
On the first day, I was privileged to share a boat with both Poes, and the three of us caught football shaped specks until we were worn out.
That morning started out promising.
The watermelon-like smell of fresh slicks from feeding trout rode on the light breeze as we idled up to our first spot. We seemingly dropped anchor within casting distance of their breakfast table. Within a matter of minutes, we landed more than 10 trout in the 2- to 5-pound class range. We were chunking MirroLure Lil Johns rigged on 1⁄8th-ounce jig heads along the edge of a reef.
After the excitement at sunrise, we ran out to the beachfront along the west end of Dauphin Island to see what opportunities the surf might have in store for us. We quickly found rafts of baitfish and fresh slicks along bars, and guts up tight to the beach where aggressive specks and redfish were waiting. At this point in the day, we had switched over to throwing various topwater plugs, which rendered explosive strikes on just about every cast.
The second and third days of my adventure proved to be just as good, especially as far as speckled-trout fishing is concerned. Capt. Nick Poe and I covered a lot of ground and found fish in a variety of locations, in and around a plethora of structures and changing bay bottom compositions. Topwaters and soft plastic jigs continued to produce. I personally haven’t caught as many chunky, healthy specks in a long time.
One of the major highlights of my excursion was learning about the incredible tripletail fishery the Dauphin Island area boasts. Throughout the summer and early fall months, tripletail can be found staging along structures such as channel markers, floating debris and crab pot buoys, especially when the winds are light and currents are weak.
Poe and I spent a little time in the afternoons, scouring the surface of the water around these structures, after we had finished trout fishing each day. We found several tripletail, including a hefty 22-pounder. The beast put up a grueling fight, after falling victim to a live shrimp that Poe pitched right in front of its nose.
Besides redfish, speckled trout and tripletail, the nearshore opportunities for cobia and snapper in the area also are abundant, Poe said.
In addition to excellent angling opportunities, Dauphin Island is definitely a locale that should be added to your must-visit list for several reasons. It is relatively close to additional premier destinations like Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, which offer plenty of other activities to enjoy between fishing trips.
The beaches in the area are pristine, not to mention they have some of the prettiest water along the Gulf Coast. White sand and clear water stretch for miles.
If you like seafood, then you’ll love the local restaurants. Southern hospitality and tasty, Gulf Coast cuisine are the standard.
Dauphin Island, Alabama, was a nice surprise and it very much so had a hidden gem feel to it. The fishery seemed almost untapped as the areas we experienced great success in were void of tremendous boat traffic and pressure.
The next time you’re looking for a coastal getaway outside of the Lone Star State, consider checking out Dauphin Island and its surrounding waters and beaches. You won’t regret it.