Alabama’s red snapper population is much like Alabama’s deerherd. Back in the 1940s and 1950s, red snapper and white-tailed deer both were scarce in Alabama
. Since Alabama had very-little natural reef bottom, red snapper had little habitat where they could live off the coast. The white-tailed deer, after the Great Depression of the 1930s, had only small numbers then, because the deer had fed so-many of the state’s families during those hard times. Some Alabama counties no longer had any deer. However, through conservation measures enacted, the improvement of habitat and the provision of more food and cover, both the white-tailed deer and the red snapper have rebounded in Alabama tremendous numbers. In 2009, Alabama deer hunters harvested over 285,000 white-tailed deer (44% bucks and 56% does) of the 1.5 million statewide deer population, although in 1940, the estimated deer population for the entire state was only 16,000.
The same phenomenal growth that has happened with Alabama’s deer herd has occurred with the red snapper population off Alabama’s Gulf Coast. Since the 1950s, state and federal governments, conservation organizations, charter-boat captains and individual fishermen have built habitat in the Gulf of Mexico to grow more red snapper and other reef fish. Even before the federal government imposed regulations, many charter-boat captains would move away from artificial reefs when the size of snapper being caught became small. The charter-boat captain
s of Orange Beach managed these artificial reefs just like a cattle rancher would manage his cattle, only taking a certain number of red snapper from each reef to let the red snapper population continue to build each year.
With new length limits and smaller bag limits, not only have the red snapper holding on Alabama’s artificial reefs grown in number but also in size. Since fishing on the Upper Gulf Coast, which included Alabama’s coast, has been shut-down for some months this past year during the peak of snapper season due to the oil spill, the reefs have continued to grow more and bigger snapper than ever previously. None of Alabama’s charter-boat fishermen can remember a time when Alabama’s Gulf Coast has had more or bigger red snapper than there are right now.
Captain Ben Fairey of the charter boat “Necessity” explains, “I’ve been fishing out of Orange Beach for 37 years, and I’ve never seen more red snapper caught, bigger red snapper being caught and limits of red snapper caught closer to shore than what we’re catching right now during this special fall red-snapper season that runs until 12:01 am on November 22, 2010.”
Interested anglers along with the government reversed the offshore-fishing trends out of Orange Beach in the last 10-15 years. In the past, catching triggerfish, vermilion snapper, white snapper and many other reef fish was extremely easy, but catching red snapper required more time and skill. Now the easiest fish to catch off Alabama’s Gulf Coast is the red snapper, b
ecause there are so many of them. We need you to come down and catch some of those nice red snapper. Then we can continue to catch triggerfish, vermilion snapper, white snapper, amberjacks and all the other reef fish that live on the thousands of artificial reefs off Alabama’s Gulf Coast.
You can catch and keep your limit of red snapper on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until the season’s end, and you also can catch and keep limits of triggerfish, vermilion snapper, white snapper, amberjacks, Spanish mackerel and king mackerel all the time. You can catch and release red snapper during the week. If your church or civic organization wants to hold a fish fry for the entire group, now’s the time for the men of the church or civic club to come to Alabama’s Gulf Coast and help us catch some of these numerous red snapper available right now in November. You’ll find plenty of boats to charter and fish to catch. Y’all come, and bring all your friends.
To fish with Captain Ben Fairey on the “Necessity,” call him at 251-747-5782 or his booking agent Tracy Redding at 251-609-2525, visit www.captben.com
, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
. For more information on fishing guides and charter boats, lodging accommodations, restaurants and entertainment on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, call Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism at 800-745-SAND (7263), or visit www.orangebeach.com
. You also can get a fishing report three times each week by visiting the “What’s Biting?” column at www.orangebeach.com/fishing/biting