Editor’s Note: Today anglers don’t have to give-up football games on the weekend to go fishing out of Orange Beach, Alabama. Captain Dale Woodruff (251-974-5911, www.classactfishing.net) of the “Class Act” charter boat, based out of Zeke’s Marina in Orange Beach, Ala., a member of the Orange Beach Fishing Association (OBFA), is just one of the charter-boat captains on Alabama’s Gulf Coast who believe anglers shouldn’t have to miss their favorite college and professional football team games to enjoy deep-sea fishing.
“I’ve got a 40-inch flat-screen television hooked-up to DirecTV satellite,” Woodruff says. “Many of my clients enjoy watching football on the weekends on the way out to go fishing and on the way back, and when we’re moving between fishing spots. I subscribe to DirecTV’s ESPN Game Plan and NFL Sunday Ticket packages. So, my clients can watch any college football conference game and any NFL game they want to see any day of the week they go fishing. On the early-morning fishing trips, we can go out, catch a good mess of reef fish and mackerel and get back in time for my customers to catch the afternoon football games in their motels or condos or at many of our local sports bars and restaurants. On an afternoon fishing trip, we can watch the football games that start between 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm, get out to the fishing spots during half-time of the games and then watch the rest of the games on the trip back to the docks. Life doesn’t get any better than fishing and football during football season.”
Since the fishing at Orange Beach is often centered on family vacations and taking children fishing, like many-other captains on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, Woodruff has a PlayStation 3 with video games for the kids. “On the way out to our fishing spots and on the way back home, parents either can watch football, or they can let their children play video games,” Woodruff explains. “This way, the children don’t have to give-up their cartoons and video games to go fishing with Mom and Dad. The television is located in an air-conditioned cabin, allowing our customers to watch football and the kids to play video games in air-conditioned comfort, regardless of the weather.”
Fall is also the time for tuna fishing. Many of the 2-day tuna-fishing trips down at Alabama’s Gulf Coast leave on Friday night or early Saturday morning and return after dark on Sunday. On these trips, you can watch a full weekend of football and catch tuna, wahoo, dolphin, vermilion snapper and
triggerfish. Amberjack season begins August 1, and there are plenty of big amberjack to be caught off Alabama’s Gulf Coast. On the longer fishing trips, you also can catch king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, scamp, grouper and cobia. Even though trips don’t target American red snapper, since the season has ended, catching and releasing a 15- to a 20-pound-plus red snapper isn’t uncommon on these longer trips.
“We’re expecting a great amberjack season this year,” Woodruff reports. “The fall of 2011 should be one of the best amberjack seasons we’ve ever had. I can’t believe the number of amberjack we’re seeing and catching offshore right now, 6-to 60-miles out. Some of the biggest amberjacks we’re catching weigh from 30- to 84-pounds each. We’re also catching a number of 60- to 70-pound amberjacks. The bigger amberjacks are usually caught from 40- to 60-miles offshore.”
Captain Brent “Hollywood” Shaver (251-747-0220) of Mo Fishin Bait & Tackle Charters based at Zeke’s Marina in Orange Beach, Ala., fishes inshore and near shore. Right now, the near-shore bite for Spanish mackerel, king mackerel and tarpon is hot. “We’ve caught a number of 12- to 15-pound king mackerel, as well as 30-pound-plus king mackerel,” Shaver says. “A 20-pound king mackerel isn’t uncommon in late summer. We’re catching a number of schooling-sized Spanish mackerel, as well as some trophy-sized Spanish mackerel that weigh from 3- to 4-pounds each.” The near-shore fishermen use several techniques to catch the mackerel. They slow-troll for the king mackerel using either dead cigar minnows or live alewives (LYs). When they see Spanish mackerel feeding on baitfish ne
ar the surface, they start casting to them with jigs. The inshore fishermen use 20-pound-test line for king mackerel and 15-pound-test line for Spanish mackerel. On an average 4-hour fishing trip, anglers may catch from two to eight king mackerel and from five to 30 Spanish mackerel, depending on their fishing skills and the number of schools of fish your captain can find.
“Another fish that’s a real surprise this year is the tarpon,” Shaver mentions. “Numbers of tarpon are rolling near the shore. One of our near-shore guides had a party that hooked and brought-up a 100-pound-plus tarpon to the side of the boat. They took pictures of the tarpon and then released it. This charter weren’t even targeting tarpon; they were king-mackerel fishing. I caught a 13-pound tarpon about one-month ago when I was fishing for redfish. Right now, the tarpon are really thick close to the beach. A number of tarpon are coming near shore at this time of the year at Orange Beach, but we have very-few people fishing for them.”
For more information on fishing, contact the Orange Beach Fishing Association www.obfishingassn.com
. For information on hotels, motels, and restaurants, call Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism at 1-800-745-SAND, or visit www.orangebeach.com
. To have the fish you catch while fishing off Alabama’s Gulf Coast cooked, go to www.orangebeach.com/dining-nightlife/restaurants
and click on “will cook your catch.”
Mackerel is an especially-important fish for you to eat for your heart’s health, because it contains Omega-3 oils.
6 mackerel steaks
1 cup thinly-sliced onions
2 cups thinly-sliced potatoes
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
6 large squares of foil
1 recipe Mediterranean oven-broil sauce mix
1/4-stick melted butter
1 tablespoon salad oil
1 tablespoons dry white wine
One-half hour before cooking, light coals in grill, and allow to burn-down. Drop onions, potatoes, carrots and celery into boiling water on the stove. Blanch 5-6 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp tender. Place a fish steak on each foil square. Divide the blanched vegetables among the squares. Prepare the Mediterranean oven-broil sauce by melting butter in the saucepan and adding oil and wine, before adding the dry-sauce mix to mixture in saucepan. Pour sauce over each steak, and seal the squares tightly. Grill 5-inches from charcoal 15-17 minutes per inch of thickness, turning once.