Home Sea food Why you should visit Bayou La Batre, the seafood capital of Alabama

Why you should visit Bayou La Batre, the seafood capital of Alabama

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If you’ve ever wanted to visit a sleepy little fishing village where most of the locals make a living from working on the water, Bayou La Batre (pronounced “BY-you-la-BAT-tree”) is the place to go. Located in the southernmost part of Mobile County, it’s worth a visit, especially if you’re already in the Bellingrath Gardens and Home area in Theodore or staying on nearby Dauphin Island.

The bayou, as it is colloquially called, may be small, with around 2,500 inhabitants, but it has appeared on both the big and small screen. The 1994 film “Forrest Gump”, based on the novel written by Mobile-native Winston Groom, celebrated Bayou La Batre as the home of Forrest’s “best good friend,” Bubba, whose dreams of being a shrimp boat captain. was taken over by Forrest.

Later, the sequel to “Pirates of the Caribbean” featured a pirate ship built by a shipbuilder in Bayou La Batre. And the 2011 reality TV series “Big Shrimpin ‘,” which aired for one season on the History Channel, revolved around real shrimp boats who worked for Dominick’s Seafood in the bayou.

Driving through Bayou La Batre will give you a feel for the beauty and charm of the area, but you might not realize how diverse the community is. About a quarter of the population is of Southeast Asian descent, as immigrants from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos settled there after the Vietnam War.

You can discover the history of Bayou La Batre – it was founded in 1786, according to a historical landmark – at the official visitor center, but it is only open “some” Wednesdays and Saturdays. A colorful mural on the side of the fire hall captures the bayou way of life, with a fiery sunset and seabirds flying over the waters of the “Seafood Capital of Alabama.” Everywhere you go, you’ll see anchors in construction sites and in front of businesses, symbolizing the livelihoods of this coastal Alabama community.

Here are three things you should not miss while visiting the beautiful bayou.

Go fishing.

Dion Hill has lived all his life in the Bayou La Batre region. Recently, as he was throwing his dip net to catch baitfish along Portersville Bay just down the road in Coden (pronounced co-DEN), he was eager to catch rockfish, plaice, speckled trout and white trout. As a child, Hill worked with his father on a shrimp boat, then followed in his father’s footsteps to become a commercial fisherman, then a shipbuilder.

From where it stands, you can clearly see the Dauphin Island Bridge across the bay. “You will see the most beautiful sunrises here,” he said, pointing to the east. “And the most beautiful sunsets at the other end of this road.”

Naturally, this longtime fisherman recommends visitors to the bayou go fishing if they can. If you aren’t equipped to go fishing, you can certainly pick up whatever you need at the quaint and funky Marshall Marine Supply on Shell Belt Road. From rope crab traps to a great selection of t-shirts and hats, this is a great place to stop and take a look around.

Look at the boats.

The only time you risk getting stuck in traffic is when the JA Wintzell Memorial Bridge, a drawbridge over the main thoroughfare, Wintzell Avenue, rises to let the majestic shrimp boats pass. If you drive to the end of Shell Belt Road, you will reach the town docks, where two huge casino barges are currently moored. This is where you will see the shrimp boats return with their harvest.

All along Shell Belt Road there are seafood processors – mostly wholesalers only – and shipbuilders. Mountains of oyster shells drying in the sun provide a fascinating sight.

(Courtesy of the Alabama NewsCenter)


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