Sparkling-white sandy beaches and the beautiful blue-green waters of our Orange Beach area attract millions of visitors each year. From parasailing or kayaking to simply laying in the hot sun, there are many fun activities available for people of all ages to enjoy.
Did you know that the Gulf Coast also offers some of the best spring fishing in the entire world? As the waters along our area begin to warm up, many types of fish migrate back into the area, allowing people to catch an ice-chest full of fish onshore and offshore. Cobia, Speckled Trout, Gray Trigger Fish, Pompano and Amberjack are just a few of the fish you can catch during the upcoming season.
Cobias migrate through the area in late March and April. You often catch them by sight fishing, where you trick them into eating your bait, a fun method to ask your deck mate about! Cobias are white fish that have a clean and buttery flavor. The fish has high oil content, helping it not dry out no matter how you prepare it.
Speckled trout have a slight flakey and very meaty texture. They are most commonly caught in the shallow bays and tend to move into deeper bay waters as temperatures decline during the fall. These delicious fish are frequently caught with shrimp.
Gray Triggerfish are great to fish for during the spring as the season opens on March 1st and closes by the end of May, making it a true spring fish. Gray Triggerfish primarily feast on bottom dwellers like shrimp, crabs, sea urchins, and sand dollars. The flavor is clean and uniquely sweet when cooked with a taste and texture similar to that of a crab.
Pompano appear in May and stay through October. They frequent the surf zone where the waves break in “suds” on the beach. They feed on sand fleas (Mole Crabs) that live in the area. Some call it “the world’s most edible fish” due to its flat-bodied, pan-sized shape that makes it easy to eat whole. The fish meat is pearly white, with a moderate fat content. It has a sweet, mild flavor that is firm, but finely flaked.
Best to hook during April and May, Amberjack are thick and meaty and are a favorite cooked blackened. They are known as “sea donkeys” because they are some of the toughest fighters in the Gulf. They enjoy swimming around ground structures like oil and gas platforms.
By the time May rolls around, taking a deep sea fishing trip can lead to a good number of the fish mentioned above. But, that’s not all you can catch during the spring and early summer!
Make the most of spring fishing by booking a trip with Class Act Charters! Our knowledgeable captain and crew will help you navigate the gulf and find where the fish are biting. Regardless of your group size, ages, or budget, we can accommodate your needs to provide you with the fishing experience of a lifetime!
Don’t forget a recipe for the Cobia that you’re bound to catch! Try out one of our favorites:
Cobia with Lemon Caper Sauce
1/3-cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4-lb. cobia, cut into 4 pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3-cup dry white wine
1/2-cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1-tablespoon capers, rinsed, drained
1-tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
1. In shallow dish, stir flour, salt and pepper. Coat fish pieces in flour mixture
(reserve remaining flour mixture). In 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil over
medium-high heat. Place coated fish in oil. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, turning halfway
through cooking, until fish flakes easily with fork; remove from heat. Lift fish
from skillet to serving platter with slotted spatula (do not discard drippings);
2. Heat skillet (with drippings) over medium heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon reserved
flour mixture; cook and stir 30 seconds. Stir in wine: cook about 30 seconds or
until thickened and slightly reduced. Stir in chicken broth and lemon juice; cook
and stir 1 to 2 minutes until sauce is smooth and slightly thickened. Stir in capers.
3. Serve sauce over fish; sprinkle with parsley.
Here are on the Gulf Coast, we have some wonderful offshore tuna fishing. Most of the successful tuna trips are 18-36 hours long or longer. Here at Class Act Charters, we specialize in these trips!
What kind of tuna will you catch in this area?
Yellowfin Tuna (“Ahi” in Hawaiin) are a beautiful and tasty fish found throughout the world in warm waters. They are probably the most commonly caught offshore game fish. They often group together in enormous schools and can be seen breaking the surface chasing after bait. They often follow dolphins around and can be caught under schools of them.
Tuna eat a large number of different things including baitfish like sardines and mackerel, squid, and even small pelagic crabs. They can become difficult to catch when they are keyed in on tiny baits. If you see tuna feeding on the surface and can’t get them to bite, that could be the reason!
Yellowfin Tuna swim great distances during their lifetimes. They attain sizes in excess of 400lbs, although fish this size are only found in the Eastern Pacific and are generally caught in Mexico. Many nice fish in excess of 200lbs are also caught in Panama. The tuna are smaller here on the Gulf Coast, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a thrill to catch!
Like all tuna, Yellowfin Tuna pull hard for their size. They almost never jump when hooked, although they have been seen coming out of the water to grab bait or lure. When you get them near the boat they turn sideways and swim in large circles making it a long process to get them in the boat. It’s virtually impossible to horse the larger ones in quickly no matter what tackle you are using. They are a great gamefish and are great to eat! Yellowfin Tuna are very common in sushi restaurants and they are also very good seared. You can even eat them fresh right on the boat with some soy sauce and wasabi!
Yellowfish Tuna are just ONE example of what can be caught in the deep waters of the Gulf! Booking a Class Act Charters to take you means you have an experienced crew and the tools you need to reel in the best fish. Book your trip today!
File or pinch down the barb of your hook. A barbless hook is much easier to remove. However, if your hook is set too deep in the throat, simply cut the fishing line as close as possible to the eye of the hook and release your catch. The hook will rust away or simply be absorbed by the fish’s tissue.
Choose circle hooks when possible. Usually these hooks, with the point curving inward toward the shank of the hook, will catch the fish in the corner of its mouth instead of the stomach. In all cases, safe hook removal is made easy with a de-hooking tool, such as long-handled pliers.
Net your fish. Slipping a wide hoop landing net under your tired gamefish and removing the hook while your catch is still in the water is simply the best tactic for a healthy catch and release. Landing nets with rubber, knotless webbing also protect the sensitive skin and fins of your game fish.
Grippers: Gamefish can also be safely landed while using a wide variety of fish grippers. Grippers allow fisherman to grip their hooked fish with stainless steel claws and dislodge the hook, or hooks, while keeping the fish in the water. Many come with a built-in scale which weighs your catch so that a quick photo can be taken.
Wet your hands, glove and towel, etc. Avoid handling your catch with dry surfaces. The reason is to avoid removing the protective slime from the game fish’s skin, which not only helps fish swim, but also wards off infections and parasites. Dry hands and towels will pull much of the slime off.
Never jerk a fish straight up by its jaw; support it by the belly also – and don’t handle fish by the gills or eyes.
Give fish a chance to recover. When releasing your catch never toss the fish back into the water. Instead, hold the fish in the water with grippers allowing water to flow through its gills until fully revived. Once the fish is able to swim on its own, grasp the fish just ahead of its tail and push the fish headfirst back into the water.
Perks of Fishing the Off-Season / Grouper on the Grill
You might be wondering how another 365 days came and went so quickly. We are about to start a New Year and many of us make resolutions for our personal and professional lives. Did you get out on the water to fish as much as you hoped in 2017? If not, why? If you did, what did you learn as a result of your time on the water?
Here are 5 fishing resolutions to set as goals for your favorite sport in the New Year:
Read and practice twelve new fishing tips and tricks in the coming year. If you break it down, it’s pretty simple. Just research and read one new fishing tip or trick per month throughout the year. Need some help finding information? We have some helpful information to get you started.
Resolve to teach a kid to fish. A day on the water can provide a great opportunity to teach kids about the outdoors while they learn new fishing and boating skills. If you teach a kid to fish, you can also incorporate educational activities or related hobbies like a trip to a local aquarium or fish hatchery.
Pick one fish species you want to learn more about and become a species “expert”. One of the best ways to experience greater success when fishing is to learn as much as you can about fish anatomy and behavior. Understanding more about how and why fish behave the way they do will help you increase your catch rate. For example, knowing that Spanish Mackerel prefer temps above 68 degrees and mostly live in open water but are sometimes found over deep sea grass beds and reefs, will help you find them.
Stop making excuses and fish more often. We all make time for the things in life that we thoroughly enjoy. If you enjoy fishing, stop making excuses and just simply do it more often. Team up with a fishing buddy and add one or two dates to your calendar now.
Find and try out a new fishing spot each month and if you don’t have the time to research, hire a fishing charter like Class Act to show you various types of habitat and structure that will encourage you to be a better, more versatile angler. Learn how to fish in various areas and climates throughout the year.
If you have other fishing resolutions that you plan to add to your list, share it with us on our Facebook page! Happy New Year fishing fans!
Book your trip for the New Year with us now.
Make the Most of Your Time by Hiring a Charter
At Class Act Charters, we keep the poles bent all year. What are some benefits of booking a fishing trip during the "off season"? Well, the Fall and Winter rates are lower, the temperatures are comfortable and can be preferred compared to the hot summer months.
We’ll be catching Spanish Mackerel, King Mackerel, Shark, Sailfish, Marlin, Wahoo, Grouper, Tuna and others. For those who thought about booking a longer trip for the bigger fish but didn’t want to deal with the melting summer heat, Fall and Winter is the perfect time to make plans to catch that bucket list fish. Some of the fish are game fish, where catch and release is required this time of year, but measuring before you release is part of the game. Others, you are able to fill the cooler and take home to cook.
One of the best fish to catch and eat is grouper. Here in South Alabama, you’ll find it cooked many different ways but below is a recipe you may or may not have tried – Southern Style Grilled Grouper. If you add a little spice blend and throw it on a hot grill and cook it to perfection, this might be your new favorite way to cook it!
Southern Style Grilled Grouper
1 lb. Grouper fillets
1/4 teaspoon minced onions
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
1. Mix all the spice rub ingredients together and remove the grouper from the refrigerator. Cover all surfaces of the fish with a light to medium covering of the spice rub and gently rub into the grouper. Let this rest in a container outside of the refrigerator to allow it to reach room temperature before putting it on the grill.
2. Get your grill going and achieve a medium hot grill. Place the grouper fillets in a grill basket or on a grill screen with smaller holes to keep the fillet from falling apart and crumbling through the grill as it gets closer to done. Cook for approximately 5 to 6 minutes per side. You only need to flip it once on the grill.
3. Note: If you're unsure of whether it's fully cooked or not, you can test it with a digital meat thermometer at the center of the thickest part of the fillet. The temperature should read approximately 135° F.
Red Snapper are the most common fish we catch off of the coast of Alabama. They are only in season from June to early July. The good news? When you hire a charter fishing company like Class Act Charters to take you on a fishing adventure at Orange Beach, you can sit back and let us handle the strategy while you enjoy a day on the water!
Although snapper is common, there are so many different species of fish you can target and catch off the coast here in Alabama.
Gag Grouper is found mostly in the Gulf of Mexico. They were very abundant but have been overfished to the point that they are now tough to catch. Gag Grouper are found around shallow water reefs; but, most are in deep water near rocks and ledges. Gags are fun to catch. The Gag Grouper are usually 5 to 10 pounds average in weight; but, if you get lucky, a 30 to 40 pounder is out there. Gulf Gag Grouper are a white meat and the texture is semi soft. Some say it tastes better than Red Snapper, and should be undercooked a bit. Try grilling, baking or frying it!
Amberjack is also known as the Greater Amberjack and is caught on mostly large structures of reefs in the Gulf of Mexico. They offer a great fight for even the toughest angler! The average size of an Amberjack is about 15 to 18 pounds. There are a lot of 20 to 25 pounders. These fish can grow up to close to 100 pounds. Amberjack is a good fish to eat and has a firm texture to its meat. It is good cooked on the grill! There is a bag limit of one Amberjack per person, per day in the Gulf of Mexico. They have to be 30 inches at the fork length to keep them. An Amberjack over 20 pounds is usually legal and can be kept.
Wahoo is one of the most prized migratory fish you can catch in Alabama. The Wahoo are considered one of the fastest fish in the ocean, next to the sail fish. Wahoo are usually caught in blue water or water that is over 150 feet deep or deeper. They weigh on average 20 pounds each. They fight like crazy when hooked! Most are caught while trolling lures behind the boat. Wahoo is best tasting when grilled or blackened.
Spanish mackerel are found off the Atlantic Coast of the U.S. and in the Gulf of Mexico. The Spanish mackerel is much smaller than its relative, the king mackerel. Spanish mackerel have a greenish back with silver sides and belly. Yellow or olive green oval spots traverse the body, which is covered with very tiny scales. Spanish mackerel prefer temperatures above 68 degrees and mostly live in open water but are sometimes found over deep sea grass beds and reefs.
King Mackerel are a migratory fish that usually stay in waters whose temperature is above 70 degrees. They are plentiful during the summer months. They can be caught right off the Alabama coast line on short trips and are commonly caught further offshore near reefs and structures. They can be caught on a drift line while bottom fishing and on lures while trolling. King Mackerel are good for smoking and the food quality is okay. It is an oily fish and is best if you don’t freeze it. King Mackerel taste better when grilled or blackened.
Yellowfin tuna is one of the best fish to target on longer, overnight fishing trips that depart from Orange Beach. The Yellowfin are usually caught more than 60 miles offshore around large oil rigs or in deep blue water. They have been known to move more than 200 miles in a single day. They offer anglers the chance to fight a tough fish. They are caught trolling and chunking during the day and night. The best fishing is usually just before daybreak! Yellowfin Tuna is one of the best fish you can ever eat. However, they do not freeze well. The meat is a dark pink in the loin section and is used for sushi all over the world. The best way to cook Yellowfin is to grill or sear it.
Dorado, Mahi-Mahi and Dolphin Fish
No matter what you call them, the Dolphin fish is one of the best fighting game fish in the Gulf of Mexico. They can be caught during the summer months in Alabama along rip lines or floating debris. Large dolphins can weigh up to 80 pounds. The average Dolphin fish weighs about 2 to 10 pounds each. They offer even the best anglers a lot of action and almost always jump up in the air, shaking their heads trying to get away. Closer to shore, you may find the small ones that are called chicken dolphins. They are a blast to catch, right on the surface around the boat. The Gulf Dolphin are some of the best fish to eat. They have a firm texture which is excellent grilled or blackened.
Give us a call to schedule your next deep sea fishing trip! It will be an experience you’ll never forget.
The Class Act is part of the great charter fleet at Zeke's Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama.
WE ARE LOCATED IN BOAT SLIP B-4
Zeke’s Marina has the Gulf Coast’s largest charter fishing fleet. Zeke’s Landing Marina is located across the street from some of the most beautiful beaches in the country and just 10 minutes by boat from the Gulf of Mexico.
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