Editor’s Note: Captain Kathy Broughton of Orange Beach, Alabama, an inshore charter boat fisherman since 1994, was once a typical suburban soccer mom and housewife living in Mountain Brook, Ala. “But ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always wanted to be a fishing guide,” says Broughton. “My father always had big boats. I’d go along with him, drive the boat and help rig the tackle. I’ve always enjoyed taking people fishing. I finally found a time and a place to live out my dream.”
Question: Kathy, where is your boat based?
I’m based out of SanRoc Cay in Orange Beach. I can fish four adults comfortably in my boat. If there are 5- or 6-year olds in the party, I usually can take two more. But normally, I fish four people at a time.
Question: Where do you fish, Kathy?
I fish all the back bays, the tidal rivers, Perdido Pass, the jetties, the Intercoastal Waterway and the inshore sandbars. I fish all the waters from near shore to inshore.
Question: What fish are you catching in February?
During the month of February, we’re still catching big bull redfish near shore. At this time of year, we’ll see and catch plenty of sheepshead, black drum and speckled trout. We still have a few flounder hanging around in February, but they’re an incidental catch rather than a targeted species. Most of the flounder in the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach region move out into the Gulf of Mexico in the winter months and return strong in May. The fish that seem to bite the best and that are usually easiest to catch this month are sheepshead and redfish, because they come inshore to spawn. The speckled trout in this area are a little further north up the tidal rivers.
Question: How many hours do you usually fish, and what do you usually catch this month?
I fish either 4 or 6 hours, and we generally will catch redfish, black drum and speckled trout.
Question: When you’re fishing for speckled trout, where are you fishing, and what are you using?
We’ll be fishing up the creeks near Perdido Pass, using live shrimp, the DOA shrimp, the Berkley Gulp! and the finesse worm.
Question: When you’re fishing with live shrimp, how are you rigging?
I prefer to use the No. 4 Kale hook or the No. 8 treble hook, which we can still use in Alabama. We’ll put a small piece of shot lead up the line, depending on the current. We’ll be fishing with a bobber in some places, and in other spots, we won’t fish the bobber. We let the fish tell us whether they want the shrimp suspended or running on a free line. We usually fish 12-pound-test line on spinning tackle. The colors of artificial lures that seem to catch the most trout are the gray finesse worm, the green Gulp!, and the white and the brown DOA shrimp.
I like to try and catch a lot of fish. So, while we’re fishing for trout, we’ll also fish for redfish, sheepshead and an occasional flounder. If the speckled trout decide not to participate in our fishing trip, then we look for the fish that will bite in our day of fishing. I’ll target whatever species the customer wants to catch. We have some customers who just want to make sure they catch a lot of fish, and they don’t really care what kind of fish they catch. For those customers, we usually fish for sheepshead. At this time of year, the sheepshead will be holding on rocks, pilings and artificial reefs created by the State of Alabama. The sheepshead are generally always holding on the jetties and around the bridge pilings on Perdido Pass. I usually can catch and release all the sheepshead our parties want to catch. They still can keep some of these delicious fish to eat. March is when we get the magnum sheepshead that will weigh from 4- to 8-pounds each.
On calm days, when big schools of redfish come through, we’ll run out in the Gulf of Mexico. On some days, you may catch and release 30 big bulls, but on an average day, we’ll catch about five fish. These big bulls will be from 32- to 45-inches long and weigh 12- to 20-pounds or more each. We use the laser-tail jigs, which are the same jigs we use to catch amberjacks. The Mister Twister Exude Curly Tails also will work well on your jigs. The redfish seem to prefer chartreuse, white or orange curly tail grubs.
This type of fishing is fun because we’re still using 12-pound-test line on spinning reels. We’ll put a barrel swivel on the end of the 12-pound-test main line and tie on 2 or 3 feet of 30-pound-test monofilament for a leader. The redfish have really-sharp sandpaper-like teeth, so you need that heavier leader to keep them from breaking the line. However, you’ll have more fun fighting the redfish on a light line. Our customers enjoy trying to whip a big bull red with that 12-pound-test line. Sometimes, if they hook up to a really-big bull, we’ll pull the anchor and chase the redfish. Most customers can’t believe they can catch a big bull red on that 12-pound-test line. However, we catch them all the time on this light tackle and have a lot of fun.
To fish with Captain Kathy Broughton
, contact her by mail at P.O. Box 1556, Orange Beach, AL 36561, or by phone at (251) 981-4082, or email her at email@example.com