Editor’s Note: Captain Davy Jones of the “C.A.T.” charter boat docked at Zeke’s Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama, has fished out of Orange Beach for 29 years. “Yes, I do get a lot of kidding because my name is Davy Jones, and I enjoy every minute of it,” Jones says.
Question: Davy, why do you like running a party boat?
Jones: I like meeting new people every day and watching people smile as they enjoy catching fish. I have a lot of fun on these trips.
Question: You run 6-hour fishing trips for families and companies, as well as 4-, 8-, 10-, 12- and 24-hour trips. Tell me about a 6-hour trip. Where do you go and what do you catch?
Jones: Our 6-hour trips are pole-bending trips where we try to catch a lot of fish and keep customers’ poles bent the entire time they’re fishing. We go out to the natural bottom, the Trysler Grounds, and catch vermilion snapper, triggerfish, white snapper, grouper, red snapper, pogies and king mackerel. Occasionally, we’ll catch an exotic fish, such as a bigeye snapper or a queen triggerfish. The 6-hour trip is a great introductory trip for a family or a group who just wants to see the type of fishing they can expect in Orange Beach. We charge $1,450 for 10 people and then an additional 10% for every person over 10-years old for a planned, scheduled trip. If we have a walk-on trip, which is a number of different people who want to fish for 6 hours, we charge $120 per person.
Question: What do you catch on your 10- and 12-hour trips?
Jones: We generally catch amberjacks and grouper and troll for wahoo, and during red snapper season, we’ll catch really-big snapper.
Question: On a 12-our trip, how many fish do you catch?
Jones: We’ll usually bring in between 400 and 600 pounds of fish, which often will include a limit of amberjacks, four or five grouper and a good number of scamp, which is one of my favorite fish.
Question: How big are the scamp you catch?
Jones: They’ll weigh between 7 and 10 pounds, which is a really-nice-sized scamp.
Question: What’s the trick to catching scamp?
Jones: We use two-hook rigs and bait with squid on the top hook and a pinfish on the bottom hook.
Question: How deep is the water you’ll be fishing for scamp?
Jones: We’ll fish from 260 to 300 feet of water. When we fish deep, we’ll catch bigger white snapper than we’ll catch on the Trysler Grounds, 2- to 3-pound vermilion snapper (beeliners), 15- to 30-pound grouper, depending on the species of grouper we catch, and sometimes a wahoo while trolling on the way out or on the way back from our trip. Our average-sized wahoo will weigh 35 to 40 pounds. The wahoo is one of the best-eating fish we catch in the Gulf of Mexico. The king mackerel we’ll catch on those longer trips will weigh from 25- to 30-pounds each. If we’re fishing during snapper season, which we will be in June, July and until August 15th, the snapper
will weigh from 10- to 18-pounds each. We’ll be fishing in the Red Snapper World Championship (RSWC) the next couple of months, and I have the coordinates of several artificial reefs locations that I’ve been saving all year for the RSWC to try to catch the biggest snapper we can.
Question: What size reefs do you have to fish to catch those big snapper?
Jones: You’d be surprised, but we’ve caught big snapper on big and little reefs. I spotted one of the biggest red snapper I’ve ever seen in the Gulf of Mexico on an underwater chicken coop that almost was rusted all the way to the bottom. I’m a scuba diver, as well as a charter-boat captain, and I like to dive and see what the fish are holding on and how they’re positioned on a wreck or a reef. I couldn’t believe that big snapper was holding on that little, almost-gone chicken coop. Although big red snapper tend to prefer large structures, I’ve seen them holding on structure not much bigger than a Coca-Cola can.
Question: What else do you see when you scuba dive?
Jones: There are plenty of fish on every reef. It’s unbelievable how many fish these artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico are holding. I dove on the Escambia Bay bridge rubble, which was only 80-feet deep, and found a number of coral, vermilion snapper, scamp, gag grouper, snapper, amberjacks and other fish. When you scuba dive on these reefs, you can see fish you may not generally catch. In the late summer, we go out to the Trysler Grounds and catch shovel-nosed lobsters. Since the reef is in 120 feet of water, you only have 7 to 8 minutes to stay on the bottom, so you may only catch two or three per dive.
Question: How big are the lobsters you catch?
Jones: They usually weigh about 2-pounds each. I’ve heard there are spiny lobsters on the Trysler Grounds, but I’ve never seen one. I don’t believe our fishermen know how many fish are holding on the reefs our charter-boat captains fish. But from scuba diving, I know our reefs are loaded with fish, and that’s why even on a 4- or a 6-hour trip, we can keep our customers’ poles bent and fish coming to the boat.
To fish with Captain Davy Jones, visit www.fishorangebeach.net
, or call 251-747-2702.
Roquefort-Crusted Red Snapper Fillet
Several Birmingham, Alabama, restaurants serve this dish – a favorite of all seafood lovers.
1 pound red snapper fillet (boneless and skinless)
1/4-pound imported Roquefort cheese (1/4 wheel or crumbles)
3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 cup fresh, grated Italian bread crumbs (coarse)
sea salt to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste
1/4-stick unsalted pure butter, melted
1 small clove minced garlic
1/4-teaspoon fresh thyme
1/4-wedge fresh lemon
1/4-cup cooking wine
1/4-cup sifted flour
Place snapper fillet on a plate, and cut into two, 8-ounce portions. Dust snapper with flour, and sprinkle a light coat of salt and pepper on each side of the fillets. In a mixing bowl, place bread crumbs, Roquefort cheese, parsley, garlic and thyme. Place melted butter and snapper fillets in a sauté skillet on medium heat. Cook until fillets are starting to brown on each side. Then add cooking wine to deglaze, and remove from stove. Place snapper on a baking sheet, and top with a generous amount of ingredients mixed in the bowl. Place in a 350-degree oven until topping browns.