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Fishing in lower Alabama can be both frustrating and incredible all at the same time. The annual cycle of the Mobile Bay system takes a lot of time and energy to understand the nuances of how salinity, temperature and bait migrations affect the predatory species we love to pursue.

We will start things off in the summer: Summertime fishing is both easy and challenging. We have high daytime temps that run most anglers off of the water well before lunchtime. That being said, you can catcah a lot of fish if you know how the fish respond to those same water temp variations. The summer has a decent salinity level in the bay that the
fish love but has just gotten to an acceptable level after enough time passing from the spring rains that drastically “freshen” the bay waters. Fish can be caught shallow early and by mid-morning they have retreated to deeper water near structure.

The fall is when the magic starts to happen. The first cold fronts cause a myriad of events to happen and the fish all know what to do. As LY’s make their way up the bay and into the rivers that feed the system the local shrimp are starting their spawn in the delta and rivers in and around the bay. This is a cue that redfish, flounder and speckled trout all respond to by going on an eating spree. If you couple that with a couple of cold fronts starting to lower the water temps and send the fishing running north to the warmer waters of the rivers then you have a recipe for some fast action.

Then we get to my favorite time of year: winter! Once the water temps get below 60 and stay there for a couple of weeks then the fish will push further into the rivers to find deeper holes that hold temps better to overwinter. This puts fish in large congregations that anglers in-the-know can take advantage of. The shrimp pretty much all bait sources that are
normally found in the bay have left into the gulf leaving mullet as the primary forage source. Some of my largest speckled trout come on the coldest days of the year when everyone else is at home and I have the water to myself. Fish can also be caught all day when the temps are lower.

As the temperatures start to rise with the onset of spring the fish will make their way from the rivers back down into the bay. Simultaneously the bait that has wintered out in the gulf makes their way back into the bay. We then find that an onslaught happens once again as the predator and prey meet in the middle. Spring can be the hardest or easiest time to catch fish because of all of the rain that happens north of Mobile Bay pushing tons of freshwater down the rivers into the bay making it almost completely fresh except for some deeper pockets that maintain the salty and more dense waters that these fish prefer.

While this is an over simplification of our Bay and how the annual cycle affects the fishing, it can give you a head start into understanding it using it to build your knowledge base. It is also my personal opinion that pursuing these underwater denizens from a kayak is something I can only describe as an addiction.