Note: Captain Bobby Walker of the Summer Breeze Charters docked at Zeke’s
Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama, has charter fished for 40 years.
Bobby, what kind of fishing can we expect in October?
The fishing for blackfin and yellowfin tuna was really productive in September and
should improve during October. On the way to catch tuna offshore, we’ll catch
numbers of wahoo and dolphin (mahi-mahi). Too, this month, the amberjack
fishing should be really good. However, I’m most excited about catching more
triggerfish, which are fun to catch and delicious to eat. Our region should home
plenty of triggerfish this month. The vermilion snapper bite has continued in
September and should get better in October. In October, we start catching
football-sized beeliners, which are bigger, more-rounded vermilion snapper that
come from the natural bottom down to the south and the southeast of Perdido
Pass. We have bigger rocks on the bottom in those directions, which tend to
hold the bigger vermilion snapper. Although we’ve had good catches of big
vermilion snapper, I’m most excited about the bigger triggerfish we caught last
month and will continue to catch through October.
There’s a new size limit on amberjack, right?
Yes. The amberjack has to be 30-inches long from the tip of the nose to the
fork of the tail to keep it. That size amberjack will weigh about 20 pounds.
You mentioned that the triggerfish bite is strong. What’s the secret to
catching big triggerfish?
Triggerfish hold higher in the water on rocks and reefs than most other species.
We catch them using a two-hook rig with smaller hooks than the hooks we use to
catch red snapper, and we put squid or cut bonita on for bait. We’ve found that
the cut bonita seems to be the best bait for triggerfish. We instruct our
customers to drop their baits down, let their lines down for 10 to 15 seconds
and then stop the descent of the line. If the bait reaches the bottom, you’ll
most likely catch red snapper, which have to be released.
What size triggerfish do you catch?
We catch all sizes of triggerfish, but the National Marine Fisheries Service
(NMFS) has increased the size of triggerfish we can keep to 14-inches long from
the fork of the tail to the tip of the nose, which are really-nice-sized
triggerfish. Since snapper season closes early, and the limits have been
reduced, the triggerfish have been hit hard by anglers. So, I’m really glad to
see this regulation being enforced on the triggerfish. We still can catch
plenty of triggerfish, but we’re keeping the bigger-sized fish.
Normally when hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast, we get a new crop of grouper. Did
that happen this year after the hurricanes of the late summer and early fall?
Yes, to some degree. A number of small grouper and a few bigger ones moved into
our area after the hurricanes. On our last charter trip, we caught about 10 or
15 grouper off one spot, weighing from 3- to 5-pounds each. That was a boat
load of grouper. Too, after the storms, our area received a big surge of smaller
grouper. When we fish natural bottoms instead of reefs, we generally catch one
or two nice-sized grouper each day. Some of the other boats will catch five or
six grouper. The scamp fishing has increased more than the grouper fishing. I’m
really hoping that the NMFS will change the red snapper season and bag limit. Right
now, if I’m 3-miles or 20- or 30-miles out in 200 feet of water or more, we
catch 5-pound-or-more red snapper. So, the area homes a high-quality grade of
snapper and numbers of them, but we can’t keep them.
What else is moving inshore in October?
King mackerel are starting to move in at this time of year. On almost ever spot
we fish, we put out a drift line and generally will catch king mackerel weighing
from 12 to 20 pounds. On some trips, almost everyone on the boat will catch a
king mackerel. And catching a 30- or a 40-pound king mackerel in October isn’t
uncommon. This month, we’ll fish for a mixed box of fish, such as white snapper,
vermilion snapper, grey snapper, triggerfish, amberjack, scamp, grouper and
king mackerel, which are all fun-catching and good-eating fish. We catch and
release more fish now than we ever have, and we keep a wider variety of fish.
What about offshore fishing?
The captains fishing offshore report that marlin fishing, especially white
marlin, has really been hot. One captain tagged four white marlin and one blue
marlin in one day of fishing. So, the marlin are coming in strong right now,
and there should be plenty of marlin to catch during October. When we fish
offshore, we generally catch plenty of blackfin tuna at first light around the
rigs, and then we start trolling for yellowfin tuna. Too, we’ve caught a good
grade of yellowfin tuna that will weigh from 50 to over 100 pounds. Most of our
tuna average from 60 to 70 pounds. Of course, when you fish for yellowfin, you’ll
catch dolphin and wahoo, especially since the water is clear. October is a
great month to fish here on the Alabama Gulf Coast, whether you want to bottom fish
or fish offshore.
fish with Bobby Walker at Summer Breeze Charters, call 251-981-6159, or visit www.bobbywalker.com.