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Wade Fishing Dauphin Island
written by Bill Cooper

Phenomenal wade fishing and sugar white beaches makes Dauphin Island a vacation hot spot for anglers.
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Dauphin Island
Speckled trout and flounder are the two prominent species an angler can expect to catch while wade fishing on Dauphin Island out of Mobile Bay, Alabama.

Dauphin Island lies 28 miles south of Mobile, Alabama. The 14-mile-long by 1-3/4-mile wide barrier island is three miles south of the mouth of Mobile Bay. The lovely island of sugar white beaches is reached by traveling over the three-mile high-rise bridge connecting the island to the mainland. Dauphin Island received its name from King Louis XIV's great grandson and heir.

The Gulf of Mexico is south of Dauphin Island and the Mississippi River Sound and Mobile Bay are to the north. The island's eastern end defines the mouth of Mobile Bay.

At the invitation of a friend who owns a summer home on Dauphin Island, I traveled south to enjoy the island's fantastic wade fishing.

The Gulf of Mexico stretched out to the horizon. I quick stepped down the last sand dune separating me from the salty waters of Mobile Bay. My partner and I waded right into the choppy waves crashing on the white, sandy shores.

My buddy carried a 5-1/2-foot baitcasting rod tipped with a Yo-Zuri stickbait. "I have caught speckled trout on this rig many times," he quipped as we strode into waist deep water.

I elected to use a 9-foot, 9-weight fly rod. My fly box contained an assortment of shrimp and minnow patterns, which I hoped would entice a few strikes.  I anxiously began casting. We only had three hours of daylight left.

My fishing partner quickly connected with his stickbait. He yelled like a tickled teenager and pouted like the same when the trout jumped and made its escape. I chuckled aloud.

My pal enjoyed steady hits. I struggled. Yet, I stuck with the enjoyable enterprise of the double haul, cast 40-feet and fast strip the fly back to me. At long last a fish struck. I missed.

My counterpart giggled again as he slid a beautifully colored 15-inch speckled trout to hand. A quick inspection of the fish revealed two dagger like fangs positioned in the fish's top lip. "Don't stick your fingers in the mouth of anything you catch down here," my pal instructed. "Everything has teeth!"

The bony upper palate of the speckled trout explained the difficulty we were experiencing getting fish hooked. A tiny circle hook may have been more effective. Circle hooks stick fish in the corner of the mouth as they turn to leave with a bait.

The evening sun blazed orange on the western horizon sky firing the horizon with pink, orange and various shades of red. The foreground of sand beaches and palm trees etched a perfect picture on our watery world.

Dauphin Island Trout
Speckled trout are a much sought after game fish in the gulf. They can be caught wade fishing around Dauphin Island on jerkbaits or shrimp imitating soft plastics.

My partner continued to hook and lose fish; he landed one more beauty before darkness settled around us. I did not bring one fish to hand, but vowed to do some serious research before returning to the water.

Early the next day I visited with CJ at Southern Bama Bait & Tackle in Mobile. CJ suggested that I try a 3-inch rootbeer colored plastic minnow. That ugly bait would have been my last choice of lures that hung on the tackle store racks.

The following afternoon we returned to the beach for more fishing. I impaled one of the rootbeer baits on a 1/16-ounce jighead. It took me three false casts to get the heavy lure 40-feet out. I allowed the bait to settle to the bottom and then began a strip and pause routine which brought the lure 18-inches up from the bottom. The pause in my retrieve allowed the lure to flutter to the bottom

Upon completing my third cast of the day, I executed my first strip. As the bait drifted to the bottom, my first trout of the day clobbered the bait, almost jerking the rod from my hands. I set the hook hard and yelled in jubilation at my first hook up. My celebration lasted a brief three seconds when the hard mouthed trout spit the bait and fired it back at me.

Two casts later I felt another solid thump. I leaned on the heavy rod, "Yeah-haw, I got one," I yelled. The fish felt powerful at the end of my fly line. I reveled in the moment as I put my first speck on the stringer.

I paused to stare across the vastness of the water in front of me before making my next cast. The watery world of the Gulf of Mexico stood radically different from the hardwood forests of my Missouri home. I love the closeness of the wooded hills. The Gulf appeared so eternally open, so threatening, yet so peaceful. I was content to be there.

My ugly, rootbeer bait settled towards the bottom after a short strip. The fly line burned through my fingers. "Fish on," I yelled with jubilation. 'Fish off!" I muttered as the hefty trout made its escape.

Less than a minute later, my line zinged through the water again. I consciously set the hook harder. The fish felt larger than the last one as it quartered through the eater away from me. Visions of a fat, four pound trout diminished when I spotted the creamy-white, flat underside of a flounder -- my first.

My fishing partner held his own as he caught and released trout after trout, all of which he caught on a dark, straight worm. I would have loaned him some of my rootbeer baits, but I had brought only one, and he wasn't getting it -- buddy or not.

My rod arched again. A minute later I raised my rod to slide my third flounder to hand, only to see it flip my only rootbeer bait out of reach. I tried others, but to no avail. At long last, my buddy found one rootbeer bait and brought it over to me. Man, did I feel like a heel.

Immediately I began catching fish again, thanks to my buddy and that ugly rootbeer minnow imitator.

Sunsets are dramatic at Dauphin Island. And so are the endings of fishing trips. My fishing pal had forgotten his stringer. "Too bad, buddy," I yelled.  "Naw," he replied. "Remember the bear hunting story you told me about wearing tennis shoes so you could out run your buddy. Well, there are sharks in these waters and I don't like a stringer of fish hanging around MY waist!"

For more information about fishing and other activities on Dauphin Island go to: www.dauphinislandcoc.com.

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