Editor’s Note: Captain Charles “Chip” Day (251-981-1943, www.chippersclipper.com) of the “Chippers Clipper” charter boat based out of Orange Beach Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama, had a great 12-hour trip the last weekend in September, proving that fishing for all types of species of fish in the Gulf of Mexico is good right now.
We had a 12-hour grouper trip the last weekend in
September, and we ran-out to fish some rocks in 200 feet of water. We caught red grouper, scamp, black grouper, triggerfish, vermilion snapper, white snapper and ruby-lipped grunts, as well as a few amberjacks. We caught the grouper with live bait. On the way out to deeper water, we caught some nice-sized triggerfish, vermilion snapper and ruby-lipped grunts. We used the ruby-lipped grunts and the vermilion snapper that we caught as bait for the grouper. We fished with about 8 inches of the bait with a 10-ounce egg sinker up the line, because the current wasn’t strong, and a barrel swivel below the sinker. We also used a 4-foot-long leader and a No. 7/0 circle hook. We hooked our bait through both lips, so the bait would stay alive and lively. I told my anglers to let their leads off the bottom about two cranks. We didn’t fish only with live bait. When our baits would die, we’d butterfly them by removing the backbone and leaving the two fillets attached to the head of the bait. The grouper seemed to like those butter-fried dead baits almost as well as they liked the live bait.
When we first started fishing, we caught a number of sharks. We went about 5-miles away from the sharks and then began catching grouper. By keeping their baits up off the bottom, the anglers didn’t have problems with the grouper getting in holes and breaking their lines. Our biggest grouper weighed about 40 pounds, which is a good-size gag grouper. The red grouper were 22- to 28-inches lo
ng, and our scamps were all legal size. There weren’t a lot of amberjacks where we fished, but we did catch some amberjacks near the bottom. When you reach that 200-foot bottom, you often will catch the amberjacks and the grouper by using the lines and the bait we used. We also caught some really-big snapper, with the average snapper weighing about 15 pounds or more. Of course, we released all our red snapper, because red snapper season was closed. We had at least five to six of those really-big snappers. One of my customers said, “Don’t worry. We’ll be back for snapper season.” We caught only one blackfin tuna when we trolled.
I also heard from some of the boats trolling offshore that the wahoo bites were really starting to heat-up. Another charter boat based at Orange Beach Marina caught an 80 pounder and three wahoo, and a sailfish hit the boats trolling bait, but the anglers were unable to land it. The white marlin have been showing-up really-good offshore. We caught about a dozen good-sized triggerfish. The grouper and the amberjacks have been biting well, and the water has been pretty. Since grouper season just opened on September 16, the grouper aren’t nearly as difficult to catch as they have been in the past, and they’re nice-sized fish.
I’ll be fishing all winter long, so if you want to catch some big fish and a lot of them, come fish with me.
The Orange Beach Fishing Association (www.obfishingassn.com
) will be glad to find you and your family a captain and a boat that fits your needs. For accommodation and restaurant recommendations, contact Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism at 800-745-SAND, or visit www.orangebeach.com
. To have your fresh fish prepared at the beach, go to www.gulfshores.com, click on restaurants
, and check box for “Will Cook Your Catch.”
Low-Fat Grilled Amberjack
8, 6- to 8-ounce amberjack fillets
1/2-cup hoisin sauce
1/4-cup dry vermouth
1 tablespoon sugar
Brush both sides of fish with mixture of hoisin sauce, vermouth and sugar. Place on large platter; cover with plastic wrap. Marinate in refrigerator overnight. Grill fish on grill preheated to medium-hot for 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily. (The alcohol will dissipate in the grilling.) Yield: 8 servings.