“I’ve never seen red snapper fishing better than it is right now at Orange Beach, Alabama, and going into this last weekend of snapper season, which ends at 12:01 am on November 22,” says Captain Ben Fairey of the charter boat “Necessity.” A 40-year veteran of fishing the Upper Gulf Coast, Fairey has
seen both great years and weak years of red snapper fishing. To make a statement like this is a monumental assessment of the red snapper stock living off Alabama’s Gulf Coast. “I hope we get the opportunity to have another fall snapper season next year,” Fairey explains.
The snapper limit is so quick and easy to catch that anglers like Fairey target gray triggerfish after catching their limits of snapper, and they’re catching some really-big triggerfish. Captain Fairey says, “When we fish for triggerfish, we fish much higher in the water than we do for snapper. We use small pieces of cut bait and small hooks. What we’ve learned is when we’re fishing for triggerfish, we’ll often start catching and releasing red snapper, which means those red snapper have had to move away from the reefs and swim much higher in the water than they normally do. If we’re fishing a bottom that’s at 150 feet for red snapper, when we look for triggerfish, we’ll only let our baits down 50-75 feet deep to try to keep our baits away from the snapper so we can catch the triggerfish.
“When we start catching red snapper while fishing for triggerfish, we can catch and release the snapper without any damage to the fish. Catching red snapper in water that shallow keeps the snapper from getting the bends when you release them, and they can swim right back down to the reef. Our release mortality on red snapper has declined dramatically, because of our ability to catch the
red snapper so high up in the water. We’ve also seen that many times, we catch some of the biggest snapper when we’re fishing for triggerfish, because big red snapper are often the first snapper to move-up higher in the water column than the other snapper holding on the same reef.”
Fairey reports that the average snapper his parties have been catching will weigh 8-12 pounds. With whole red snapper selling for $9.49/pound and triggerfish fillets selling for $17.99/pound at Sexton’s Seafood in Birmingham, Ala., anglers who are fishing out of Orange Beach, Ala., will save money at the fish market by catching their own snapper and triggerfish. Justifying an offshore fishing trip becomes much easier when you understand the value of the fish you’re catching. “We should have pretty-good triggerfish fishing up to almost Christmas,” Fairey reports. “We’ll still have good fishing after then for grouper, vermilion snapper and many other fun-catching, delicious-eating reef fish for the anglers who come and fish with us during this last weekend of red-snapper season and fish with us through the winter. Right now, we don’t foresee a closure on amberjacks either through the winter months. We’ve bee
n catching amberjacks weighing 20 to 35 or even 40 pounds.” The price of amberjack fillets is about $9.95/pound, and amberjacks are some of the hardest-fighting, most-delicious fish in the Gulf of Mexico.
From all forecasts, the last weekend of red snapper season will be a gangbuster. Everyone’s expecting large numbers of big snapper to come to the docks and many other species to show-up in the catch. The good news is, there will be plenty of hard-fighting, good-tasting, highly-valuable fish to be caught throughout the winter months when the weather’s cool at Alabama’s Gulf Coast, but very-rarely cold.
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 go to www.orangebeach.com
. You also can get a fishing report three times each week by checking-out the “What’s Biting?” column at www.orangebeach.com/fishing/biting
. Also, to have your catch cooked at the beach, go to www.orangebeach.com/dining-nightlife/restaurants
and click on, “Will Cook Your Catch.”