Dauphin Island Fishing: The Ultimate Guide
Nov 12, 2020 | 9 minute read
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Serving as the dividing point between Mobile Bay and the mighty Gulf of Mexico, it’s no surprise that diversity is the name of the game when it comes to your Dauphin Island fishing adventure. It’s packed full of history, too. The island once served as a home to Native Americans, who used the land to hunt, harvest, and fish. The latter is a tradition that has only grown over time and still exists to this day.

An aerial view of Dauphin Island, showing the water and the main highway

That isn’t the only slice of history Dauphin Island possesses. Although it boasts gorgeous white sandy beaches and spectacular wildlife, its picturesque appearance hides something a little darker – namely, that it used to be referred to as “Massacre Island.” This old nickname makes sense from a fishing perspective, though. You’ll make a total killing when it comes to the sheer number of species you can catch!

Okay, okay, enough of the bad wordplay. Let’s dive into the angling action on offer instead! The Gulf, packed with tasty reef species and ferocious big game beasts, lies south of Dauphin Island, whereas Mobile Bay, one of the finest inshore fisheries around, is situated to the north. With so many locations to explore, it only makes sense that there’s a wide variety of fish to hook here, too. Let’s see what you could find at the end of your line…

What can I catch around Dauphin Island?

From ridiculously oversized big game beasts offshore, to juicy bottom dwellers lurking around the reefs, to shallow-water species bustling in the bay, there’s no end to what you could potentially hook here. The sheer number of fish around Dauphin Island could fill a book, so we’ve done the tough work of highlighting some of our favorites below…

Redfish

Mention Alabama’s inshore fishing opportunities to any angler worth their salt, and you’re bound to get one answer in response: “Redfish!” Why are these fish so popular here? Well, not only are they seriously hard-fighting and flavorful, they also inhabit Mobile Bay during all stages of their lives. This means you’ll have the chance to encounter anything from juvenile “rat” Reds, to “slot” Reds, to mighty (in size and stature!) Bull Reds.

A man wearing sunglasses holds a Redfish up to the camera with the water behind him

If you want to battle your Reds like the locals do, grab your lightest tackle and live shrimp, live croakers, or gold and silver spoons. This is a tried-and-true Alabaman way of hooking into Redfish, and you’ll be able to try out this technique whenever you visit. Although Reds inhabit the waters near Dauphin Island year-round, bear in mind that during the colder months, they’ll be heading for deeper fishing grounds.

Speckled Trout

From one inshore favorite to another, next on our list comes delicious Speckled Trout. These fish have become a real family favorite all along Alabama’s Gulf Coast, especially Dauphin Island. Why? Well, you’ll find them in the shallow waters of nearby Mobile Bay, which means you won’t have a long journey to the hotspots. They’re also fun to catch, and once you hook one, plenty more tend to follow.

A man sits on a fishing boat and holds a Speckled Trout vertically up to the camera

Similar to Redfish, light tackle is the name of the game when it comes to hooking Specks. Live bait such as shrimp is the perfect way to lure ’em onto your line. Fishing in Dauphin Island during summer offers up plenty of Trout fishing opportunities, namely in the productive warm waters of Mobile Bay. Visiting this famous fishery is the perfect way to get acquainted with America’s favorite light-tackle game fish!

Snapper and Grouper

Would it really be possible to write about Dauphin Island’s fishing scene without mentioning one of the most popular species? We’re talking about Red Snapper, of course! These succulent fish are a staple of Alabama’s Gulfside region. They’re fun to catch for all anglers, from beginners to hardened sportfishers. You’ll have to travel south from Dauphin Island, out onto the Gulf, for the chance to battle ’em, but it’s worth the journey.

A man holds a large Red Snapper aboard a boat, with the Gulf in the background

However, Red Snapper are subject to strict regulations in Alabama, so make sure you plan your visit during the open season. Want to hook some tasty reef species year-round? There’s a whole host of other Snapper and Grouper species here – Vermilion and Lane Snapper and Gag, Scamp, Black, and Red Grouper. They’ll put up an exciting fight, diving into the caves and crevasses of the Gulf’s reefs. Battling ’em is a great way to test your skills!

Amberjack

For many Alabama anglers, there’s nothing more exciting than embarking on an Amberjack fishing adventure. These species are some of the hardest fighting saltwater fish around. Ask local sportfishers for their advice when it comes to hooking ’em, and they’ll say one thing: “Drop your lines, and hold tight!” Amberjacks are stubborn and incredibly powerful. They love to hang around the Gulf’s many reefs, where waters are 60+ feet deep.

Two men hold a large Amberjack aboard a boat, with the Gulf behind them

You’ll have their love for underwater structure to contend with when attempting to reel them in, too. These powerhouses tend to head straight to the nearest reef or wreck once hooked in an attempt to break your line, which makes heavy tackle a must. Live bait such as squid or grunt is excellent at luring these fish out of hiding. If you’re looking for a real rod-bending adventure near Dauphin Island, you couldn’t do better!

Wahoo

So we’ve covered Dauphin Island’s exciting inshore and nearshore fishing opportunities. We know that all you hardcore big game enthusiasts out there can’t wait to see what lies further offshore in Dauphin Island’s Gulfside waters! Firstly, we’re shining a light on Wahoo. Hooking these fast-moving ferocious creatures requires you to have your wits about you!

Two men and a woman hold a large Wahoo aboard a vessel with the Gulf behind them

Wahoo inhabit the waters around 50 miles from Dauphin Island’s shoreline, although some anglers report encountering them only 25 miles out. The most popular local way to hook these fish is by trolling. There’s nothing more exciting than watching your lines in the deep blue waters, waiting for the screech when these fish bite. And when that happens, there’s only one thing to do – hold on tight!

Mahi Mahi

This bedazzling big game fish is a staple all along the USA’s Gulf Coast, and Dauphin Island is no different. Not only does the Mahi Mahi put up an exciting, rod-bending fight, it also tastes seriously delicious. For many anglers, this is an irresistible combination. You’ll have to travel around 40 miles from Dauphin Island’s shore to encounter the Mahi’s playground, but it’s definitely worth it if you’re looking to have a real battle on your hands.

A man holds a large Mahi Mahi up to the camera on a charter boat with the Gulf in the background

As with Wahoo, the most popular way to target Mahi Mahi is by trolling, especially aided with outriggers. This fish especially loves floating objects, so expect your captain to target areas with floating debris or sea beds. It likes to chow down on live bait such as mullet, squid, or ballyhoo. When it bites, you’ll know about it. The Mahi loves to zip through the water, alternating directions and sending your head (and reel) spinning!

How can I fish around Dauphin Island?

So now you know a little more about what you can catch on your Dauphin Island fishing trip, you probably want to decide on how you can catch ’em! Below, we’ve highlighted the most popular ways to get your fish on around this island.

On a Boat

No matter whether you’re looking to explore Mobile Bay’s prolific shallow fishery, or the reef-filled waters of the Gulf, hopping aboard a local Dauphin Island fishing charter is the way to go. If you’re planning to head offshore, it’s a necessity due to distance. But even if you opt for an inshore charter, you’ll be guided by a captain who knows this area inside and out. Less searching time and more fishing time? We’re in!

A view of one of Dauphin Island's marinas on a sunny day, with charter vessels docked

Your fishing vessel will differ depending on where you want to fish, though. Looking to explore the bay? You’ll step aboard a shallow water skiff or flats boat, perfectly built to pole smoothly across these waters. Heading offshore? You’ll be speeding off on a sportfishing machine, rigged to the gills with top-quality amenities. Either way, you’ll have a safe journey to the hotspots, guided by your captain’s expert knowledge!

On Foot

It’s not just about charter fishing in Dauphin Island, though. Looking to get to grips with this area’s angling scene without stepping foot on a boat? You have plenty of options! The island is full of surf fishing opportunities. There’s a whole host of piers, shorelines, and bridges to cast your line from, and you’ll find plenty of Alabaman anglers here willing to fill you in on their favorite tips ‘n’ tricks.

Dauphin Island pier on a sunny day, with the beach and blue skies in shot

Before choosing to fish on foot, there are two important things to consider. Firstly, you won’t be able to go after the big beasts that lie further offshore without a vessel. There’s a whole host of inshore favorites to battle, though. Secondly, you’ll have to pay attention to where the fish are biting and prepare to move at any moment. If you’re looking for a real slice of local-style fishing, though, this is the way to experience it!

Where can I fish around Dauphin Island?

Although Dauphin Island may be small, it’s home to a seemingly endless amount of secret fishing hotspots – including hundreds of reefs and wrecks. Trying to decide where to begin your adventure can seem very overwhelming! Luckily, we’ve listed some of our favorite locations below…

  • The Shoals: Located just west of Dauphin Island Bridge, “the Shoals” is the name given to an abundance of shell material that has gathered over the years, forming small islands. And these islands are total Redfish magnets! They’re also a hotspot for tasty Speckled Trout.
  • Dog River: Another inshore hotspot, this river is a haven for Redfish in June. There’s a whole host of houses dotted along its banks, complete with private boat docks, that attract bait fish like nothing else. In turn, this leads to a Redfish bonanza!
  • Interstate 10 Bridge: Okay, let us clarify…we don’t mean the whole bridge! To be more specific, head to the channels flowing south from the bridge at the head of Mobile Bay. This is where you’ll find those trophy-sized Bull Reds.
  • Cedar Point Fishing Pier: Located on the island itself, this pier is the perfect place to test your on-foot fishing skills. You’ll be able to hook Redfish, Black Drum, Speckled Trout, and Flounder, among others. The entrance fee is a reasonable $5, and because it’s privately owned, you don’t need to purchase a license.
  • The Rubble Reefs: Located just 6 miles east of Dauphin Island, this collection of artificial underwater structure was created when a hurricane destroyed the previous bridge leading to Dauphin Island. You’ll find plenty of tasty bottom-dwelling species here, including Red Snapper, proving that new life can come from tragedy.
  • The Pyramids: These prefabricated structures lie around 30 miles from Dauphin Island, out in the Gulf. Designed to keep the area’s fishery healthy, they definitely contribute to its “bucket list” reputation! Some of them are around 25-feet-tall and are the perfect structure for bullish Amberjack.

Anything else I need to know?

The legalities of fishing here, of course. Any angler age between 16–66 needs to purchase a valid fishing license in order to cast a line here. If you’re fishing aboard a local charter, this will usually be covered for you. Fishing from a pier? Some of them have licenses that’ll cover you, whereas others require you to purchase and bring your own. It’s best to check with your chosen fishing spot in advance!

Signage signalling the sale of bait, tackle, and fishing licenses.

Something else to be aware of when fishing for certain species, such as Red Snapper or big game fish, is the difference between federal and state waters. Local captains are either state or federally licensed. If you’re looking to head to deeper waters, opt for a charter service that covers the species you’re wanting to hook. Your captain will be able to inform you about bag, size, and season limits, too, or you can check out our calendar.

Dauphin Island: Variety is the Spice of Life!

There’s Mobile Bay to the north. There’s reefs and wrecks all around. And to the south, there’s the stunning blue waters of the Gulf, stretching endlessly into the horizon. If it’s top angling action you’re looking for, Dauphin Island surely ticks all of the boxes!

Dauphin Island's rocky shoreline waters at sunset

Whether you’re looking to hook your trophy Red, want to fill your freezer with tasty table fare, or are determined to battle some big game, it’s all to play for in this small but perfectly formed island. What are you waiting for? Grab your rods and reels and come discover that diversity really is what gives life its flavor!

Have you ever been fishing in Dauphin Island? Any tips and tricks to share? Let us know in the comments below. We love hearing from you!

Rather be fishing?

Get great fishing tips, travel inspiration, and fun facts straight to your inbox, once a week, every week.
Invalid email address This email address is already subscribed

Something went wrong!

Unfortunately we can't subscribe you at this moment due to a system error. Please try again later.
Leave a reply
NameRequired *
Your comment Required *