Note: Captain Mike Rowell of the “Annie Girl” docked at Zeke’s Marina in Orange
Beach, Alabama, has been a charter-boat captain for over 18 years. This month,
Rowell tells us how he fishes for wahoo, blackfin and yellowfin tuna, scamp,
blue marlin and red grouper.
long as our part of the Gulf of Mexico doesn’t get a really-hard freeze, or the
weather stays really cold for a couple of weeks, we can catch both blackfin and
yellowfin tuna all winter. The only time we can’t catch tuna is if we have
unseasonably-cold weather, and the water temperature in the Gulf drops drastically.
Our area also generally has a late-season run of wahoo, and they should be here
in December. If the weather stays warm like it has the last few years, we still
can catch big king mackerel this month. Too, our grouper fishery has gotten
we go on an overnight tuna trip in December, we usually catch more blackfin tuna
than yellowfin tuna. The blackfin tuna weigh about 10-pounds each, but the
yellowfin average about 100 pounds. On a good trip, we’ll catch around about
eight to 10 yellowfin tuna that weigh about 100-pounds each.
also troll for wahoo on the way to or back from the tuna grounds. Too, there are
some rigs in about 300 to 400 feet of water that generally hold wahoo. We also have
really-good grouper and scamp trips at this time of year. Although the scamp
are smaller than the grouper, they’re usually the best eating. A legal-sized
scamp is 16 inches and will average 5 to 10 pounds. But we’ve caught scamp
weighing from 15 to 25 pounds. A legal-sized gag grouper has to be 22-inches
long. We generally catch gag grouper that average about 10 pounds, but we’ve
caught some weighing 40 pounds.
had a really-productive year in 2008 for scamp, and we’re starting to see more
red grouper than we have in years past. The red grouper moved in after one of
the hurricanes, and for a while, the red grouper were on every spot we fished.
Even though we’re not catching as many red grouper now as we were 2- to 3-years
ago, we’re catching more than we were 5- to 10-years ago. Before the hurricane brought
the red grouper to the area, finding a red grouper was rare in the waters we
fished. Now we frequently catch red grouper.
couple of weeks ago, we caught a white marlin on one of our overnight trips,
and a friend of mine caught a blue marlin about a month ago. Many people don’t
realize that the Gulf of Mexico still has productive marlin fishing in deep
water all winter. The water temperature determines the type of fish we’ll
catch. As long as the water temperature stays warm, we’ll have excellent
fishing this month. The 2- or 3-day cold snaps don’t really bother the fish as
much as a 2-week hard freeze. South of Orange Beach, we catch blue marlin every
month of the year.
also caught bull dolphins in November. As the water cools in December, the
dolphins will begin to leave. The water temperature affects the dolphins more
than any other species of fish.
strongly encourage people to book overnight trips in December because that
gives the captains the option of targeting several-different species. For
instance, on a tuna-fishing trip, we have to travel 70 to 80 miles. If we try
to make that run in one day or during an 18-hour trip, we’ll only get one
chance to catch tuna. The tuna generally bite better early in the morning or
late in the evening. So, with an overnight trip, we try to get the morning tuna
bite and the evening tuna bite. If the tuna aren’t biting well, we’ll have
plenty of time to fall back and catch reef fish like grouper, scamp, amberjacks
and other species. Your odds of catching the fish you want to catch on a 2-day
trip are probably five-times better than they are on a 1-day trip. A 2-day
overnight trip out of Orange Beach is a great family Christmas present. You can
take the trip before or after Christmas. These kinds of trips are adventures, and
family members not only have chances to catch the biggest fish of their lives,
but they also have opportunities to bring back plenty of fresh fish for a
Friday night fish fry in the middle of winter.
fish with Captain Mike Rowell, call (251) 981-2081, email firstname.lastname@example.org,
or visit www.anniegirlcharters.com.