Editor’s Note: Captain Jeff Chambliss of the “Baby Therapy” charter boat docked at Orange Beach Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama, is an inshore charter-boat captain and an offshore fisherman. On his off-days, he fishes for cobia. But when he’s working, he guides anglers to speckled trout, redfish, flounder and pompano.
Fishing really has heated-up in April. We’ve caught numbers of pompano, sheepshead, speckled trout and redfish, and the cobia are coming down the beach. All the back bays have cleared-up, and the water’s pretty.
Right now, we’re primarily catching school-sized trout that will weigh from 1- to 2-pounds each, and we’re finding them in the Intercoastal Canal, Wolf Bay and Perdido Bay. We mainly catch the trout on live shrimp. I use a No. 3 split shot about 18-inches up the line from the hook with a No. 2 wide-gap hook, and we rig on 10-pound-test line. In a day of fishing, we usually can catch 10 to 15 trout.
The redfish are scattered around the docks, the jetties and the bridge at Perdido Pass and will weigh from 2- to 10-pounds each. Most of the redfish are within the slot-limit size, 16 to 26 inches, and each
angler can keep three redfish. We use a slip lead up the line and tie-on a barrel swivel with 2 feet of 20-pound-test leader. We use heavier line for the redfish, usually 12- to 14-pound-test line with 20-pound-test leader and a barrel swivel between the line and the leader.
Right now, we’re catching most of our pompano at Perdido Pass and around the jetties with the best bite in the morning generally. We start fishing for the pompano at daylight, and the bite will be good until around 12:00 noon. We’re catching some nice-sized pompano that weigh from 2- to 4-pounds each. The pompano usually come-through in schools. Some days we only may catch two or three pompano, while on other days we may catch a dozen. We primarily use live shrimp, but live sand fleas, dead shrimp or pompano jigs will produce pompano too. The pompano jigs really have been productive for us.
At this time of year, we catch a few flounder, but not many of them. Most of them will weigh from 1- to 2-pounds each.
The first week of April, I started seriously fishing for cobia. The cobia are here now, coming through on their annual east-to-west migration. We don’t see huge numbers of cobia at Alabama’s Gulf Coast, but we’ll sight-cast to plenty of them. On some days you may not see any cobia, while o
n other days you may spot 10. I haven’t had a fishing trip when we haven’t seen cobia. In early April, with cloudy weather, we caught one cobia that was cruising under a sea turtle one day, another cobia the next day and two cobia the day after that. Each day we fished, we saw about three to four cobia, with some boats seeing as many as 12 to 15 cobia. The first group of cobia that came through were pretty big and weighed about 80- to 90-pounds each. This week, the average-sized cobia is somewhat smaller, weighing only about 50 pounds.
Although I take inshore charters, I often will go on someone else’s boat that has a tower on it to spot and cast to the cobia. I guide cobia trips out to the 3-mile barge or the dredge just offshore. The favorite bait for cobia right now is live eels, and both J&M Tackle and Mo Fishin Bait and Tackle in Orange Beach carry live eels. Right now in April, the live eels sell for about $3.50 each. We hook-up the eels to a No. 7/0 or a No. 8/0 hook, which is tied to 25-pound-test line that comes down to a barrel swivel, and we use 1-1/2-feet of 60-pound-test fluorocarbon leader that’s tied to the hook with the eel on it. We fish for the cobia with spinning tackle, because we have to make accurate casts – generally from 10 feet to 30 yards. We want the eel to land in front of the cobia, so the cobia can see the eel dive-down when it hits the water. When the cobia dive-on the eel and eat it, the fight starts.
To fish with Captain Jeff Chambliss, call him at 251-979-1209, or email him at Chambliss@gulftel.com
. You can learn more about other charter boats, attractions, accommodations and restaurants available in Gulf Shores by calling Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism at 800-745-SAND (7263), or by visiting www.orangebeach.com
. To have your delicious catch prepared at area restaurants, go to www.gulfshores.com/dining-nightlife/restaurants
, and check the box at the top of the page that says, “Will cook your catch.”
Fish Loaf with Mustard Sauce
(From the Fort Morgan Historic Site)
This recipe dates from the 1830s and was popular in officer’s messes at forts where fish were readily available, including Fort Morgan. This particular recipe appears in “Feeding the Frontier Army 1775-1865” by Barbara K. Luecke.
Fish Loaf Ingredients:
3 pounds ground fish
12 ounces bread crumbs
8 ounces milk
3 eggs, beaten
6 ounces butter, melted (divided)
Salt and pepper
White Sauce Ingredients:
8 tablespoons shortening
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
Mustard Sauce Ingredients:
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon vinegar
4 ounces heavy cream
Salt and pepper
Fish Loaf Preparation:
Soak bread crumbs in 8 ounces milk, and combine with ground fish (this recipe is a great way to use leftover fish). Add eggs, salt and pepper. Shape into two loaves, placing the loaves in a shallow baking dish. Brush with 2 ounces of melted butter, and pour the other 4 ounces of melted butter into the baking dish. Bake in a moderate oven 35-40 minutes.
White Sauce Preparation:
Make white sauce by melting shortening. Add salt and flour to make a paste. Then add milk, cooking on simmer, until the mixture is thickened.
Mustard Sauce Preparation:
Combine mustard, lemon juice and vinegar. Blend with white sauce. Heat the sauce over low heat. Mix in heavy cream, and simmer for 5 minutes and then season with salt and pepper. Garnish the loaf with sliced green peppers. Serve the mustard sauce on the side.