Gulf Shores, Ala., has a reputation for being a great place to kick back and relax on stunning beaches, enjoy a round of golf or unwind with a few cocktails. The coastal hideaway is also a popular destination for sportsmen hoping to catch a champion fish. If you plan to head home from your Gulf Shores rentals with a trophy fish for the mantle, then a trip to the Gulf State Park Pier may be just what the doctor ordered.

A must-see spot

Catch a fish you can brag about at the Gulf State Park Pier.Touting itself as offering the "best pier fishing on the Gulf of Mexico," the Gulf State Park Pier is one of the most popular destinations for anglers spending their vacation in coastal Alabama. At roughly 1540 feet long (covering around 41,800 square feet of space), it is the largest pier on the Gulf. The pier has gone through many changes over the years, and the current structure offers a comfortable experience to travelers of all ages.

Included on the pier is an indoor seating area with a robust concession stand, a shop that handles bait, tackle and souvenirs, and nearly 2500 feet of wheelchair accessible fishing space along the rails. You can also pick up a daily fishing permit from the souvenir shop, something you'll need before you dip your lure into the water.

A treasure trove of fish

Depending on the season, there is a wealth of different fish just waiting to be reeled in at the Gulf State Park Pier. From king and Spanish mackerel to speckled trout and black snapper, the pier offers fishermen the chance to head home with a sizable, and potentially delicious, fish all their own. Travelers should be aware, however, that many of the larger fish in the region will likely require anglers to head out onto the water to catch them. Fortunately, there are numerous guides and tour companies nearby that would be more than happy to take you and the family onto the gulf in pursuit of larger game.

Rules to live by

While a day on the pier is a great way to spend time with the family when not hanging out in Gulf Shores beach houses, there are a few things that vacationers will want to keep in mind. Things like lounge chairs, beach umbrellas and pets are not allowed on the pier, and drinking, cooking and swimming are prohibited as well. But your focus will be on catching fish so these few rules are really minor compared to the lasting memories you will share with your fishing companions.