Editor’s Note: Captain George Pfeiffer of the “Emerald Spirit” charter boat docked at Sportsman Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama, tells us about new fish being moved-in close to shore, because of a line of floating vegetation, the sargassum weed. Many Gulf Coast outdoorsmen believe sargassum acts as the nursery for many Gulf of Mexico fishes. Also, this brown seaweed provides shade and cover for both baitfish and the sportsfish feeding on that bait.
“We’ve got a lot of clean water on Alabama’s Gulf
Coast right now at the end of April,” Captain Pfeiffer explains. “We’ve been catching numbers of blackfin tuna on our 6-hour trips along the edges of sargassum, some of which has drifted as close as 5 miles to Orange Beach. We’ve also seen and caught a few chicken dolphins (smaller dolphin also known as mahi-mahi) and a few wahoo along the sargassum line. Our area of the Upper Gulf Coast has quite a bit of southwest wind, which also has helped bring the sargassum weed closer to shore. The blackfin tuna have come with the weed. We’re still catching good numbers of vermilion snapper and white snapper and keeper-size triggerfish, up to 5 to 8 pounds. The bigger triggerfish seem to be coming from some of the smaller artificial reefs, and the natural bottom seems to be holding the smaller triggerfish.
“We don’t mean to catch the red snapper and we try to stay away from them, but we’re catching and releasing red snapper weighing 5 to 25 pounds. We’ve also had really-good luck with the king mackerel and the Spanish mackerel. Although we’re catching some mackerel as we’re going out on our 6-hour trips, we’re catching the bigger king mackerel when we put-out drift lines over the tops of artificial reefs and at the Trysler Grounds, which is natural bottom. The king mackerel are eating everything we put-out, from dead cigar minnows to live bait. The biggest king caught on our boat was 55 pounds. Our Spanish mackerel are weighing 1 to 2 pounds, but the biggest Spanish haven’t moved-in yet.
“From what I’m seeing right now, I’m expecting an unbelievable red snapper season. I believe there’s more red snapper off Alabama’s Gulf Coast right now than there’s ever been. When we let-out two-hook rigs down to the bottom to catch white snapper, vermilion snapper and triggerfish, as we catch those fish and
bring them to the surface, the red snapper are following these fish all the way up to the boat. I’m afraid if we aren’t allowed to catch more red snapper, these fish will eat-up all the other fish holding on the reefs. Everywhere we stop to fish - red snapper come-up and swim right at the top of the water. However, don’t forget, we’ve got a lot more fish to be caught out of Orange Beach, besides red snapper, and many of these fish are just as good to eat, and some are even more delicious than red snapper. So, ya’ll come down, and go fishing with us.” To fish with Captain George Pfeiffer, call 1-888-558-3889, or go to his webpage at www.fishemeraldspirit.com
The Orange Beach Fishing Association will be glad to find you and your family a captain and a boat that fits your needs. The good news is that you don’t have to leave your wife and children at home when you visit Alabama’s Gulf Coast. There’s plenty to do and see. 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
Pan Seared Blackfin Tuna
If you’ve never eaten freshly-caught tuna, you’ve missed-out on a lot of delicious flavor. With the blackfin tuna, be sure to bleed the fish out good, while the fish is still alive. Also be careful not to bruise it by throwing it into an ice chest. Be sure to cut-away the dark red meat of a blackfin tuna before you cook it.
Squirt of sesame oil
Dash of garlic
Black sesame seeds
Blackfin tuna steaks
Marinate steaks for a couple of hours in first four ingredients, covered in refrigerator. Then dust steaks with wasabi paste and sesame seeds. Pan sear, or lightly grill on each side. Don't overcook.