Editor’s Note: Captain Randy Boggs operates the “Reel Surprise” party boat out of SanRoc Cay Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama, and owns the Reel Surprise charter fleet.
“If you want to catch really-big red snapper, don’t bottom fish,” Captain Randy Boggs says. “The bigger red snapper are holding high in the water column above the wrecks and artificial reefs we fish. The fishing during this red snapper season has been absolutely unbelievable. We’re seeing lots and lots of very-big red snapper. The average red snapper being caught this year weighs between 8 and 10 pounds. Limits of red snapper are being caught every day on our boats, especially on trips that are 6 hours or longer.
“Last week the water wasn’t as clear as it will be this week. Although we captains often assume that the fishing won’t be as good in stained water as it is when our area has clear water, we’ve observed this summer that in fact the fishing gets better. The red snapper were less likely to see our lines. On one of my trips, we had 22 anglers onboard and caught 44 red snapper, with the smallest snapper weighing 13 pounds, 8 ounces. The biggest snapper weighed 18 pounds, 5 ounces. One of the reasons we had such phenomenal success on this trip was because we had a group of experienced anglers who knew to fish high in the water to catch the biggest red snapper. We were fishing in 100-foot-deep water, but the anglers who caught the largest fish were only fishing 33-feet deep on this 10-hour trip. We didn’t cull any fish. The fishing knowledge of these experienced anglers produced a catch of some of the biggest and prettiest red snapper we had seen. This season our anglers have caught a large number of red snapper weighing from 18 to 20 pounds. Actually we’re catching so many of those big red snapper that that size fish has been a common occurrence. Ten-years ago an 18-pound red snapper would have drawn a crowd at the dock but not anymore. Last week at the end of a 10-hour trip, we’d caught 35 red snapper that weighed 10 pounds or more. We stayed on that spot for less than 10 minutes.
“We fish for these big snapper by tying a 3-way swivel to the main line, next attaching a weight to the second eye of the 3-way swivel and then tying 18 inches of monofilament leader material with a circle hook attached to the third eye. We bait with half of a cut cigar minnow and then let our lines down. I believe we catch the bigger red snapper high in this water, because on an artificial reef or a wreck, the little fish hide inside the wreck from the big fish. If these smaller red snapper can’t see the big snapper, they’ll come-out of the reef and start feeding. By holding high in the water above the reef, the bigger red snapper can attack from above the reef, and the smaller fish aren’t as likely to see them. After the first one or two of the red snapper are caught, then the other big red snapper will follow those caught fish toward the surface. Sometimes on clear days right now, you may see 10- to 20-pound-plus red snapper feeding right under the boat. On my last stop this past week, when we were leaving to return to port, my anglers took all their baits off their hooks and threw them in the water. Before we left that spot, we saw 10 to 20 red snapper just under the boat that would weigh 20-pounds plus.
“If you have little experience catching big red snapper, watch the other anglers who are catching big red snapper. You’ll observe that they’ll let their lines down, count-off 5 to 10 seconds and then engage their reels. If you do what these anglers do, you can expect to catch the same size red snapper they are catching. Right now there is so-many big red snapper to be caught that fishing for these fish is phenomenal. Also you need to remember what snapper fishing was like in Orange Beach 10-years ago when you could catch and keep four red snapper. Back then our average snapper would weigh about 2 pounds. So if you caught your four-fish limit, you’d probably come in with 8-10 pounds of red snapper. Today you can catch only two red snapper, however, those two red snapper more than likely will weigh 10-15 pounds each. So, when you come to the dock, you’ll have 20- 30 pounds of red snapper, instead of 8-10 pounds. Even though the number of fish you can catch is lower, the number of pounds of fish you’ll bring to the dock and enjoy eating is far higher than in years past. You’ll catch far-more pounds of fish for your money than you will have 10-years ago, if you’ll be more selective, fish higher in the water and wait for the big snapper to bite.”
Tuna of All Kinds East of Orange Beach on the Deep-Water Rocks:
“Too, we’re having a strange anomaly occurring this year that we’ve never seen previously,” Boggs reports. “In the past, to catch yellowfin and bluefin tuna, we’ve had to run to the west and fish around oil rigs and deep structure. However, this year some of the biggest and best tuna being caught are holding east of Orange Beach on deep-water rocks. We’re also seeing blackfin tuna that are bigger than ever and are averaging 20 to 30 pounds.”
Other Fish to Catch in June
“Although we no longer can keep triggerfish in June, the king mackerel bite has come-on strong,” Captain Boggs explains. “We’re finding numbers of 8- to 20-pound kings being caught. We’re also seeing plenty of wahoo come to the dock. Too, the white snapper and vermilion snapper are turning-on now. We’re also catching scamp on these trips, but amberjack and grouper seasons are closed. However, we’re enjoying catching some of these fish every day and releasing them. When the season opens for these fish in July, I know we’ll see and catch good numbers of them then.”
To fish with Captain Randy Boggs on the “Reel Surprise,” contact him at www.reelsurprisecharters.com, or call 251-981-7173.
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. The Orange Beach Fishing Association
(www.orangebeachfishingassociation.com) will be glad to find you and your family a captain and a boat that fits your needs.