Editor’s Note: Although Captain Jack Wilhite of the “Summer Hunter,” docked at San Roc Cay Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama, will take 6- and 8-hour inshore trolling and bottom-fishing trips like other charter boats in the area, he prefers to make 10- and 12-hour offshore trips, running to that romantic blue water where big fish abound, drags scream and rods bend, and anglers will have their daily workouts trying to bring big fish to the boat.
Question: Captain Jack, what type of fishing do you prefer?
Wilhite: I like fishing inshore or offshore. But I really like to run to blue water and fish for
wahoo, dolphin, amberjack and big grouper.
Question: During May, what fish do you generally target offshore?
Wilhite: This month, the Spanish mackerel and the king mackerel are inshore, and if we get pretty cobalt-blue water offshore, wahoo really start showing-up. On our 10- and 12-hour trips, we like to run out to the edge of the continental shelf and catch gag grouper, big vermilion snapper weighing 3- or 4-pounds each, warsaw grouper, red grouper and scamp. About mid-May, numbers of amberjacks start showing-up.
Question: How big will the amberjacks be this month?
Wilhite: In the deeper water, you never know what to expect. We’ve caught 90-pound amberjack, but the average amberjack will weigh 30- to 35-pounds each.
Question: When you take those long trips for grouper and amberjacks, you usually troll for wahoo on the way out there, don’t you?
Wilhite: Yes, we do, and if we see a weedline out in that deep water, we’ll troll around that weedline to try to catch wahoo and dolphins.
Question: When you fish for grouper, how deep is the water?
Wilhite: We’ll be fishing in 180- to 270-foot-deep water, and our primary target will be the red
grouper, the gag grouper and scamp. A number of scamp have been caught this year, and even though they’re a smaller type of grouper, they’re delicious to eat and fun to catch.
Question: How big are the gag grouper you’ll catch?
Wilhite: They’ll generally weigh 30- to 35-pounds each, but we’ve also caught gag grouper weighing over 60 pounds. The red grouper are smaller, usually weighing 25- to 28-pounds each. The scamp will average 5 to 10 pounds. We’ve caught scamp weighing up to 20 pounds, but that’s rare.
Question: Do you catch red snapper when you’re fishing for big grouper, amberjack and wahoo?
Wilhite: By fishing deep, we attempt to stay away from the red snapper – which aren’t legal to catch and keep until June. We don’t have a lot of incidental catches of red snapper when we’re fishing deep water.
Question: How long do you have to travel to reach deep water?
Wilhite: We can travel from 35 to 38 miles out in about 2 hours.
Question: What else do you catch offshore at this time of year?
Wilhite: We’ll occasionally catch a king mackerel,
but in June and July, we catch a lot of nice-sized kings out in that deeper water.
Question: What’s an average catch on a 10- or a 12-hour trip in May?
Wilhite: We generally bring in about 300 pounds of fish – including several nice-sized gag grouper, some red grouper, a number of scamp and some really-nice-sized vermilion snapper. With the vermilion snapper, you can keep 10 per person, and these fish usually will weigh from 2- to 4-pounds each. We also will often pick up a few triggerfish. However, if we catch triggerfish in deep water, they’ll be garbage-can-lid triggerfish, meaning they’ll be really big and round and put up nice fights. A few cobia still will be around some of the near-shore rigs. Too, we’ll catch big bull reds inshore, trolling and on our 4-, 6- and 8-hour trips.
Question: What will you catch on your 6- and 8-hour trips in May?
Wilhite: We still will target vermilion snapper, but inshore, those fish will weigh 3/4- to 1-pounds each. These fish are good to eat, just smaller than the vermilion snapper we catch offshore. Too, when we fish in close, we’ll catch more triggerfish. We catch plenty of red snapper that we have to throw back. The king mackerel also will be coming in good during the month of May, as well as Spanish mackerel.
To fish with Captain Jack Wilhite, call him at (251) 948-3474, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Scrumptious Baked Fish
You have so-many opportunities to catch various species of fish offshore that the AGCCVB has included this recipe for delicious fish of every kind
Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning
Italian cheese blend (dried in can)
2 bell peppers, cut into rings
2 onions, cut into rings
Mild cheddar cheese, grated (enough to cover)
Butter or margarine
1 pound crab meat (optional)
Line a 9”x13” pan with fish fillets. Sprinkle fillets lightly with lemon concentrate, Tony’s seasoning and Italian cheese blend. Sprinkle crab over fish, and then layer bell pepper and onion evenly over fish and crabmeat. Again, sprinkle with seasoning and Italian cheese blend. Top with grated cheese, and then dot butter on top. Bake at 350 degrees approximately 30 to 40 minutes.
(This recipe works well for highly-flavored fish, too.)