The Heart of Dixie may only have 57 miles of shoreline, but Alabama still has some of the best saltwater angling on the Gulf Coast. From Orange Beach to Heron Bayou, Alabama’s brackish and saltwater angling is spectacular.
Redfish are among the more popular species caught along the Alabama coastline. This article covers the best locations in the state to angle for these coppery predators and a few facts to help you on your fishing journey.
These coppery-gold, bullet-shaped predators live along Alabama’s coastal and brackish waters. They have a distinctive black spot that almost looks like an eye near their tails.
Redfish are flexible predators that consume shrimp, crabs, mullet, and other small fish and thrive in various salinities. The Alabama daily limit is three fish a day.
The regular slot limit is 16-26 inches, but anglers are allowed one redfish over 26 inches. That said, the larger bull reds aren’t as tasty as mid-sized redfish, so many anglers release the trophies to support the future fishery.
Best Redfish Habitat
Redfish can be caught in various environments but are usually found close to land in estuaries, river and bayou mouths, coastal waters, and marshes.
Alabama’s coastline is rich with ideal redfish habitat.
How to Catch Redfish
Anglers can catch redfish with various baits and rigs, but the most effective are often simple bottom rigs or popping corks baited with crabs or shrimp.
We’ll share a link to our full guide to redfish fishing techniques and tips at the bottom of this article.
Where to Catch Redfish in Alabama
Just outside of Mobile Bay, south of Alabama Port, this massive sandbar island is home to some of Alabama’s largest trophy redfish.
Particularly during the late summer and fall months, from late August through November, Dauphin Island hosts the best angling location for the annual bull red run in the entire state.
The multiple sand bars, extensive coastline, and shallow coastal waters provide an excellent feeding ground for these voracious predators. The island forms a barrier between the bait fish, redfish, and the Gulf.
Dauphin Island is one of Alabama’s best places to catch redfish from shore.
Pelican Bay sits to its southeastern point and West Point to its synonymous westernmost tip.
Here anglers can use stiff saltwater tackle rigged with fishfinder, drop-shot, or Carolina rigs baited with shrimp, crabs, or minnows to hook into big reds.
Experienced anglers often avoid using cut bait at Dauphin Island, as the gafftopsail catfish (gafftops) and sharks are likely to take the bait before more desirable gamefish like redfish get there.
Just across Pelican Bay from Dauphin Island, Fort Morgan is a military installation, which means the shoreline is off-limits to anglers.
Instead, the south bank, the land-facing side of the peninsula, can be fished by boat. This area yields various saltwater species, including trophy redfish, especially during the annual bull red run.
Its shallow waters and the surrounding Navy Cove and Saint Andrews Bay yield excellent redfish fishing opportunities. At the same time, just to the north, Saxon Bay gets anglers into an estuary-like environment where cork fishing for reds in the shallows is a great technique.
During the warmer months, anglers are more likely to find big redfish along the coastline of the south bank, while the cooler months mean anglers should target the cuts around Saxon Bay and Little Point Clear.
One great way to find redfish is to find the schools of bait they are eating. Pay attention to the birds as a clue, as these often lead to schools of shrimp or bait fish and mullet.
Straddling the line between Florida and Alabama, this southeastern river feeds into the Gulf at Perdido Pass. Connected to Bayou Saint John, the Perdido River produces some excellent freshwater fishing further north, but its estuary near Bellview yields a solid crop of redfish.
With the water a much darker hue than that closer to the ocean, anglers have miles of marshy shoreline with small cuts, creeks, and channels to target throughout the Perdido River’s massive footprint.
Particularly locations such as Elevenmile Creek, which leads to Redfish Point, Bayou Marcus, and Grassy Point, are excellent locations for anglers to search for redfish.
Unlike fishing closer to the coast, anglers will do better fishing a deep popping cork baited with shrimp or crab in this upper estuary.
While anglers catch a handful of redfish further up river, the best angling occurs in the brackish bay west of Myrtle Grove, Florida, near Lillian, Alabama.
Perdido Bay is south of the estuary mouth of the Perdido River and provides miles of excellent shoreline, perfect for redfish and also a hotspot for speckled trout fishing.
Locations such as Nix Point, DuPont Point, and Tarklin Bayou make the eastern shoreline a favorite amongst anglers searching for big reds.
However, the Alabama shoreline is not without its hidden gems.
The area around the Y-shaped fork where Soldier Creek and Spring Creek comes together offers solid redfish angling spots where anglers can cast against marshy, forested shorelines.
Ross Point and the mouth of Bayou Saint John are also great spots to target when chasing redfish.
Anglers working the back coves or bayous should stick with a popping cork baited with shrimp or a gold spoon on a falling tide.
In the deeper locations, such as the mouth of Bayou Saint John or Tarklin Bay, anglers will have better luck fishing bottom rigs with shrimp or crab.
The area is also an excellent option for the best redfish fishing in Florida.
Where the Perdido Bay splits from Bayou St. John to Bay La Launch, anglers will find another hidden redfish gem by heading into Wolf Bay.
This shallow, brackish water area is loaded with small cuts and channels where anglers will discover the redfish hiding out during the colder months.
Anglers also have access to many shoreline fishing spots, such as the Orange Beach Waterfront Park and the Wolf Creek Kayak Launch.
By boat, anglers can target locations such as Hammock Bay, Portage Creek, and Moccasin Bayou, where forested shorelines and marshy offshoots make for excellent shallow-water fishing, especially on moving tides.
Portage Creek also dead ends into Oyster Bay, making it a favorite of migrating redfish and a hotspot during the bull red run.
In the central bay, locations such as Sapling Point, Mulberry Point, and the marsh channels to the north make the perfect chance to drop anchor and see what a bottom rig dredges up from the depths.
If anglers don’t succeed in Wolf Bay, Bay La Launch has a few hot spots of its own, including Ingram Bayou, whose twisted shoreline is home to plenty of fat reds and croakers hiding out from the current.
To the north of Dauphin Island, Portersville Bay is a brackish water heaven for croakers, trout, flounder, and, you guessed it, redfish. Fed by both Bayou La Batre and Bayou Coden, this bay is thick with baitfish and is a short boat ride from Isle Aux Herbes.
The mouth of both bayous are funnels for the bait fish, and reds will line up to feast on the incoming prey. Therefore, this area is an excellent location to drop anchor and cast out a couple of bottom rigs baited with shrimp, crab, or mullet.
Other locations to angle near shore include the mouth of Bayou Como, Bayou Sullivan, and casting near the many docks that jut out into the bay.
These dock structures are not only a sanctuary for baitfish but also are often home to big redfish who take shelter from the current here when not cruising the coastline.
Further out, Isle Aux Herbes is a marshy paradise where anglers can navigate the many branching waterways that carve up the island in search of shallow-water redfish.
This spot is a favorite of reds when the Gulf current is coming in strong, and anglers can rip lips using topwaters, spoons, and popping corks with plenty of success.
Mobile Bay has a variety of excellent redfish hotspots along its massive footprint. Gaillard island, Chacaloochee Bay, Point Clear Creek, and the mouth of the Mobile River are just a few solid spots anglers can catch big reds in Alabama’s largest bay.
Plenty of docks and piers along the shoreline are viable options for bottom rig fishing for bank fishermen. Helen Wood Park is a great example and sits just outside of the mouth of Dog River and allows anglers to cast into both the bay and river mouth from one location.
Several piers near the mouth of Deer River and Fairhope Pier stick far enough into the bay to get anglers over deep water without getting in a boat.
Anglers fishing by boat have more options, including the estuary mouth fed by Spanish River, Apalachee River, and Blakely River, making it a brackish water feeding ground for big redfish.
Crossed by I-10 and with Meaher State Park in its center, the mouth of the Mobile Bay is riddled with cuts, passes, and smaller bays where you won’t have to look too hard to find sizeable reds hungry for a meal.
Here, locations such as Big Island, Duck Skiff Pass, and Sardine Pass provide shallow water angling opportunities out of the river’s current. In contrast, the interstate pilings provide more structure for anglers to try their luck for redfish relating to it.
Depending on the Gulf current, anglers may find redfish further into the marsh due to the influx of seawater.
When the current isn’t pushing inland strong, Galliard Island, Mullet Point Park, and Point Judith are just what the doctor ordered for working the shorelines in search of reds.
A tourist hotspot, Orange Beach is often overlooked as a fishing destination due to its popularity among beachgoers and other vacationers. However, with Cotton Bayou to its north, and the Gulf to the south, anglers won’t have to go far to catch some sizable redfish.
The main pier in the beach’s center makes for easy shore fishing, sheltering various species from drum to redfish. Here, it’s somewhat common to consistently catch reds over 26 inches during the fall bull red run, but you don’t have to stick to the pier to find success.
Having surf-fished this location several times, the chances of hooking into a redfish from shore are good, particularly during the early morning or late evening.
A bottom rig tipped with crab is a game changer in the surf. I’ve hand-caught plenty of small crabs to bait my hook, only to have it gobbled up by a hungry red or flounder.
Cut bait is a no go at the beach as the stingrays and saltwater catfish make their presence known by taking the bait and then being a pain to remove from the hook.
It also bears saying that fishing on a popular public beach means anglers should be mindful of not accidentally snagging other beachgoers. Unfortunately, I offer that advice with some personal experience behind it.
Cotton Bayou is a viable option, but shore fishing is difficult here with few public piers.
However, if you have access to a boat, slowly motoring around the bayou and casting under or next to docks with a popping cork or gold spoon is a great way to see if a redfish lurks amidst the structure.
Just west of Gulf Shores, Little Lagoon is an understatement for the fishing paradise anglers can find inshore from the surf.
Infiltrated with sea water through a small pass that empties into the sea along the beach, this large saltwater lagoon features a variety of top-notch angling locations where anglers can avoid the current and the surf in favor of calmer waters while chasing big redfish.
One of the best redfish locations in the state, Little Lagoon features miles of shoreline that vary from residential docks to the salty marsh, with a few sandy points thrown in the mix. If the surf is particularly violent, this is your best bet to find big redfish near Gulf Shores.
Rich with bait fish, Little Lagoon features a marshy dead end into Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge and a channel that feeds into Shelby Lake on its opposite end.
On the eastern side, locations such as Stanton Creek, the marshy pass into Shelby Lakes, and the small cuts on the northern shoreline make for great fishing.
However, the best red hotspots are on the western end of Little Lagoon.
Just past Childress Point, anglers begin to lose the docks and homesteads that line the shore and find shallow coves, cuts, and marshy banks, favorites of redfish. Hotspots include Eugene Point, Sheephead Point, and the unnamed series of cuts just southeast of Eugene Point.
The mouth of Gator Lake’s feeder creek is also a solid place for anglers to anchor and cast into the lagoon, working the creek mouth, marshy shoreline, and deep water all from one location.
Anglers can fish this lake with bottom rigs. However, I suggest sticking with a popping cork baited with shrimp or crab and working the shorelines, cuts, and even some of the docks that jut into the lagoon.
Fishing with fresh bait in Little Lagoon, you’re likely to catch a mixed bag of species that might include speckled trout and some nice flounder along with the reds.
Gulf State Park Pier
Editor’s Note: At last check, renovations were planned at the Gulf State Park Pier. Check the pier’s status before planning your fishing trip here.
This one’s just for the shore anglers. There are plenty of great locations throughout Alabama to fish from shore for redfish, speckled trout, flounder, and other saltwater species, but few compare to the Gulf State Park Pier.
This hulking structure juts hundreds of meters into the Gulf itself, providing plenty of structure to angle around, and creating a haven for bait and game fish alike.
This is one of the best spots to bring two rods, one for a bottom rig and one to cork fish.
Anglers can cast out a bottom rig baited with crab or shrimp while working a popping cork baited the same way along the many pier pilings, but don’t be surprised if you get two bites at once.
Note: Anglers should bring catfish flippers to remove hooks from the gafftops around the pier, whose population rivals that of the rat infestation in NYC.
If you’re looking for quality over quantity when it comes to redfish, Dixey Bar has all your needs covered. This shallow sand bar off Fort Morgan is home to arguably the single-best fishing for trophy-sized bull reds in the state.
Seated on the east side of the Mobile ship channel (across from Dauphin Island) and barely into the Gulf, the Dixey Bar is about 3 miles in length and is essentially a potluck for hungry bull reds.
The width of the sandbar varies as it goes, ranging from 2 miles wide to a few hundred yards before disappearing into the Gulf
Though tides and hurricanes have knocked the sandbar down in size, it remains a bull redfish haven. Just yards off the Fort Morgan coastline, it varies in depth from 5 to 10 feet and is rich with shrimp, blue crabs, croakers, and pogies, all of which are staples of a bull redfish’s diet.
Best angled on a falling tide, anglers have caught big reds here on everything, including spoons, crankbaits, bottom rigs, and corks, with even the occasional topwater lure landing a monster.
Although the Alabama limit is one fish over 26 inches per day, anglers often will have no trouble repeatedly catching and releasing fish bigger than this.
This location is best fished proactively, meaning you should go find the fish rather than waiting to let them find you.
Particularly on days with clear water, anglers should look for schools of bait fish or chase birds to locate the big bull reds. If shrimp are in season, they are the go-to bait for this location, but a big crab cut in two is never a wrong choice.
Word to the wise, this location is not for your regular saltwater tackle. A stout rod and reel with 12- to 14-pound test is a minimum to handle the big reds swimming these waters.
Furthermore, anglers shouldn’t be surprised if they hook into a giant shark, which is quite common on this three-mile sandbar.
In the far western portions of Alabama, some of the best saltwater fishing sits below the Grand Savanna Bay Nature Preserve, fed by a mess of bayous and riddled with structure.
Sandy Bay lies west of Aisle Aux Dames and Portersville Bay, shielded by Point Aux Pins.
The blend of marsh and sand shoreline in this spot offers little protection from the Gulf, but the bay is riddled with submerged structure formations for oyster harvesting, making a favorite of massive drum and sheepshead.
This bay isn’t known for huge schools of reds but rather for gigantic individual drum, both of the red (redfish) and black varieties. These large fish peruse the open shoreline and handful of cuts consuming crabs, the seasonal shrimp, and the baitfish pushed in by the Gulf.
While there are no shore-accessible fishing locations in Sandy Bay, anglers will find the boat ride worth it for the huge redfish and black drum caught in this bay.
If the Gulf current is pushing inland harder than usual, the reds may take shelter just to the bay’s north in the multiple cuts and creeks or in the creek system on Point Aux Pins.
For the most part, anglers should stick near the oyster structures along the shore from Point Aux Pins up to the northernmost dock.
If the surface isn’t too choppy, popping corks fished near the structure is a great way to catch big reds and black drum along with some sheepshead.
If the surface is choppy, switching to bottom rigs baited with crab or shrimp will put you on the fish without having to deal with wind or waves battering your cork.
Just west past Sandy Bay, Grand Bay encompasses a massive series of cuts, bayous, and islands that rival the marshes of Louisiana. Fed by Bayou La Fourche, Bayou Bubie, Bayou Caddy, and Bayou Heron, this “Grand” bay also features several islands.
Marsh Island provides a barrier from the Gulf current for big redfish by offering shallow water bays, sand bars, and coves rich with baitfish and crabs.
Barton Island has a series of cuts and creeks outside Bayou Heron on the Mississippi-Alabama border.
When the shrimp begin their annual move into the marshes between April and September, Barton Island is one of their first stops. That’s why the reds also will be here in force to intercept one of their favorite foods.
As the shrimp move further into the marshes, Bayou La Fourche Bay is a great starting point, but anglers should push further into spots like Bull Bay Bayou and the northernmost branches of the cut system above the islands.
During the annual bull red run, which starts around late August and continues into the fall, anglers should shift their focus to locations such as Bayou Bubie, Point Caddy, and Bayou Caddy, where small creeks carve up the marshy coastline.
Anglers can access the bay via a boat launch in Bayou Bubbie, which allows access to Marsh Island, the bayou system on the Mississippi border, and Sandy Bay.
Overall, anglers’ best bet is to stick with bottom rigs and hit the creek mouths, channels, and island marsh systems using crab or shrimp as bait.
The Gulf Highlands is the best pure surf fishing spot in all of Alabama. Here, anglers can hook into redfish, black drum, sea trout, and flounder while digging their feet into soft white sands.
This secluded portion of the beach is perfect for anglers to cast out a few bottom rigs and wait for the action to start.
Bait your rigs up with shrimp, minnows, or crab, and try to get past the surf. Longer casts are important when surf fishing here, as the breakpoint for waves is often shy of where the big fish are.
The drop-off is roughly a hundred yards beyond the sand bars, so anglers likely will need to wade out a bit to catch the big redfish.
However, in the early morning and late evening, the sand bars are a gold mine for hungry reds who slip into the shallows for a low-light feast. Popping corks and gold spoons are solid choices at these peak fishing times.
Anglers can usually sight fish for redfish if the water clarity is sufficient. If not, try to locate schools of bait fish usually stalked by a hungry red.
While anglers can fish in this location by boat, there’s no need to leave the soft sands to catch big fish.
To best fish this location for redfish, anglers will need an actual surf rod, rod holder, and some serious tackle. This is not only to get the rig out past the breakers but also for the bull red run, where anglers will have their mettle tested.
If you were looking for that rare location where you might catch largemouth bass, redfish, and bluegill together, Shelby Lake at Gulf Shores is the place for you.
Sitting just east of Little Lagoon and the distance of a football field or two in from the beach, Shelby Lakes is a brackish water fishing paradise that hosts primarily freshwater species, with a handful of reds and drum that can tolerate the low salinity levels.
This lake is a hidden gem along the Alabama coastline. Locations such as South Island, Alligator Island, and Grass Island in the lakes make primetime fishing spots.
Anglers can access a boat launch on the southernmost side or angle from shore near the playground and dog park. There is a public access fishing pier on the southern shore as well.
However, these shore locations pale in comparison to those that can be reached by boat.
The western shoreline past Grass Island features grass beds, brush, small cuts, and a channel that leads to Little Lagoon. Here anglers in boats can catch reds and largemouth preying on sunfish and minnows. Effective lures for either predator include everything from topwater and crankbaits to popping corks.
On the eastern shoreline, anglers will find Alligator Island, South Island, and a pass leading to the second half of Shelby Lakes. The islands can yield some decent results, but the pass and three major cuts on the eastern shoreline are hot spots for reds in this brackish lake.
Hit these locations with a popping cork or work their mouths with a crankbait and watch the magic happen.
Between Portersville Bay, Dauphin Island, and Mobile Bay lies a little-known gem called Heron Bay. With a single entrance emptying into Grants Pass, this winding series of cuts, channels, and marsh has its own Heron Bayou and a cut-off that runs parallel to Mobile Bay.
With several key fishing locations, this spot may not be as popular as some others on the list, but it is an excellent choice for cooler months when redfish move into the marshes or when the Gulf current pushes fish inland.
There are three main locations off of Heron Bay where anglers can chase big reds.
The first location we’ll suggest is behind Barry Point, where an extensive creek system snakes its way through the marsh, splitting off into feeder creeks and duck ponds.
Anglers will find redfish in the deeper duck ponds and channels during the cooler months. However, the warmest part of the day is the time to hit the brush-lined shores, where the reds are sure to target crabs and bait fish.
The second spot to try in Heron Bay is the wedge island that caps off at Cedar Point.
This island provides refuge from the Gulf current and is riddled with channels and cuts that run nearly the island’s length. A redfish paradise, anglers will find that this is one of the best locations around Mobile Bay when the Gulf current is strong.
If anglers are lucky, the water clarity may be such that they can sight fish for redfish. When that happens, this is the perfect place to use a gold spoon, particularly in the back portion of the creek system.
The final top location to catch redfish in this area is the Heron Bay Cut-Off, where anglers can troll the brush-lined banks often overlooked by anglers who launch from at the cut-off but motor away to other areas to fish.
With several small feeder creeks running out of the cut-off, anglers don’t have to go far to find hungry reds seeking shelter in shallow cuts.
In the deeper portions of the bay itself, anglers can use bottom rigs to hook into big redfish, but this location truly shines up in the cuts, where gold spoons and popping corks are game changers.
While Alabama may only have 57 miles of coastal shoreline, it has plenty of excellent saltwater angling opportunities.
Redfish are among the favorite species to catch among Gulf Coast anglers, and Alabama has no shortage of hotspots for these voracious and hard-fighting predators.
Before heading out in search of redfish, make sure to purchase a saltwater fishing license and check the local and state regulations. Good luck, and stay safe out on the water.
Catch More Redfish
Be sure to check out our complete guide to redfish fishing, including best rigs, baits, lures and all the tips you need to have a fun fight and perhaps a gourmet feast.