Editor’s Note: Captain George Pfeiffer of Action Charter Services has fished out of Orange Beach most of his life. Pfeiffer captains both the “Emerald Spirit” and the “C.A.T.” charter boats. To learn what we can expect to catch this month, we talked with Captain Pfeiffer, who says October is a great month to fish Orange Beach.
Question: George, what will we be catching this month?
Pfeiffer: We’ll be catching vermilion snapper, white snapper, grey snapper, grouper, scamp and amberjack. If we fish deep water, we’ll be catching yellow edge grouper, snowy grouper and golden and grey tilefish.
Question: One of the new methods of fishing on Alabama’s Gulf Coast is deep-dropping, which is a great tactic for this month. What is deep-dropping?
Pfeiffer: Deep-dropping is the same as bottom fishing, except we’ll be fishing in 200 to 300 feet of water or more. Generally we’ll be fishing in 500 to 1,000 feet of water. When we’re fishing this deep, we use 9/0 or 10/0 electric reels. We use Elec-Tra-Mate reels and 350-pound-test PowerPro braided line that still has a small diameter line. We drop-down a three-hook rig with circle hooks. Each leader coming off the main line will be about 2-feet long, and we’ll have about a 2-foot span between each hook. We use mackerel for cut bait to catch these different species of grouper.
Question: How many of these types of grouper can one person catch in one day?
Pfeiffer: We have a five-fish aggregate on grouper, and these different species of grouper fall into this aggregate. When we take 2-day trips, anglers can catch their limits.
Question: How far out do you travel to deep-drop fish?
Pfeiffer: I’ll go a minimum of 40 miles and sometimes as far as 70 miles, depending on the direction we travel from Orange Beach. We mainly fish 350 to 700 feet of water.
Question: How long do you have to travel to reach the area where you can deep-drop fish?
Pfeiffer: At least a 12-hour trip, but it probably will be more productive to book a 2-day trip. This type of fishing is not like fishing on a wreck, where you pull-up on one spot, and all the fish are concentrated there. We fish a flat area that travels for miles. Just because you find fish at one location one day, you may not catch them at the same spot the next day. These fish swim the edges of the reef and migrate around following the baitfish. On a 2-day trip, we fish part of the first day and part of the second day for deep-water grouper. But we also do a wide variety of fishing.
Question: George, walk me through a typical 2-day trip.
Pfeiffer: When we leave Orange Beach on a 2-day trip in October, we start off bottom fishing. We’ll start catching ruby-lip grunts, squirrelfish, small w
hite snapper and vermilion snapper. We’ll use many of these fish for live bait. If the fish are big enough, we’ll keep them in our ice chest. We’ll also troll on the way out to try to catch king mackerel and wahoo. We’ll continue to bottom fish and move further out toward the continental shelf. In 150 to 250 of water, we’ll start catching triggerfish, big white snapper, big vermilion snapper and maybe some scamp. Then we get far enough offshore to fish for amberjacks on some of the bigger rocks and wrecks. By this time, we’ve reached the region where we can deep-drop fish. The spots where we deep-drop fish aren’t too far from the deep-water oil rigs. We’ll spend 1 or 2 hours trying to catch some deep-drop grouper, and if the fish are biting good, we’ll stay longer. But if the fish aren’t biting as good as they should, we’ll go to the oil rigs. We try to reach the rigs at about 3:00 pm. We search for bait or tuna chasing bait, and while we’re looking for tuna, we catch king mackerel, dolphins and wahoo. Then we’ll generally stop and chum for tuna. The big yellowfin tuna will feed up into the chum line, and many times we’ll see them at the back of the boat. We put a hook inside a piece of chum and let it drift back behind the boat. If we don’t catch tuna using this tactic, we’ll fly a kite and use live baits on top of the water. Sometimes we’ll use both techniques to try to catch tuna. At night, we jig for tuna, and our clients have time to shower and eat. Sometimes we even catch tuna while casting top-water lures at night. We continue to fish for tuna until about 8:00 am or 9:00 am, and then we deep-drop fish for grouper as well as, bottom fish and troll our way back to Orange Beach. We run a reverse fishing trip on the way back to the dock from the trip we’ve
had the day before.
Question: How many people do you generally take on a 2-day trip?
Pfeiffer: We usually take 10 to 12. We have showers and bunks for 12, and everyone has enough room to fish comfortably and have a good time. We have a Green Egg (ceramic grill) and a microwave, so we can cook anything our clients want to eat on these 2-day trips.
To fish with Captain George Pfeiffer, call 888-558-3889, or visit www.fishemeraldspirit.com
, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org