Editor’s Note: Captain Bobby Walker, a third-generation charter-boat captain based out of Orange Beach, Alabama, along with his family, helped pioneer the charter-boat business in Orange Beach. His grandfather, Rufus Walker, was a mailman who started taking parties on weekends to troll for king mackerel and Spanish mackerel. His uncle, Roland Walker, was one of the first charter-boat fishermen to discover red snapper holding on underwater airplane wrecks and shipwrecks. Roland later carried tires and all types of old metal junk to drop in the Gulf of Mexico to create artificial reefs. He also convinced state politicians to deploy 300 wrecked-car bodies in the Gulf of Mexico, which became the first step in Alabama’s intensive artificial-reef-building program that’s today one of the largest artificial-reef programs in the world.
Question: Bobby, what will you be fishing for this month?
Walker: This month, the king mackerel and the Spanish mackerel will really start moving in,
and there’ll be a lot more mackerel caught inshore and offshore. Too, this month, the mahi-mahi (dolphin) start moving, and we’ll catch a number of them offshore of Orange Beach. The mackerel will be holding on the rifts and the grasslines and out in the blue water, and we often will catch some really-big ones at this time of year.
Also, in July, the tuna fishing heats-up. We’re seeing a growing interest in catching tuna from fishermen now more than ever previously. We’re fortunate to have good numbers of both blackfin and yellowfin tuna off Alabama’s Gulf Coast, with our average yellowfin tuna weighing from 50- to 90-pounds each, which is a nice-sized fish. We catch quite a few tuna weighing more than 100 pounds, and those big tuna really fight and are delicious to eat. Another advantage to fishing in July is the weather starts to settle out. We have more calm, flat days with little wind than we do at other times of year. So, the fishermen have a more-smooth ride, and the fishing’s better.
Question: During July, Orange Beach Saltwater Series presented by the Red Snapper World Championship (RSWC) Tournament is still in full swing on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. Where will you find those big prize-winning snapper this month that possibly can win a brand-new Toyota pickup truck for the lucky tournament winner?
Walker: This month, the water’s heating-up, and the snapper are moving in closer to shore. Because the snapper’s metabolism speeds-up, and they have to eat more in the hotter weather, the snapper bite improves. Since we have a number of artificial reefs, and our captains know how to manage the reefs and not over-harvest the snapper holding on these reefs, we’ll have good red snapper fishing from now until the close of the season on August 15.
Question: You have certain places you fish for amberjacks and king mackerel. I noticed on one spot we fished, birds were circling over the area, and I could see bait swimming over the spot. Why was there so much surface activity at the place where we caught amberjacks and king mackerel?
Walker: Amberjacks and king mackerel prefer to hold on bigger underwater structure than snapper and some of the other fish do. The bigger artificial reefs seem to attract more baitfish than the smaller reefs, and these baitfish attract the amberjacks and the king mackerel. When the king mackerel and the amberjacks are pushing bait to the surface, the seagulls and the other birds see this bait, dive on it and eat it. The amberjacks and the king mackerel also hold higher in the water column than the snapper, the grouper and the other bottom feeders do.
Question: Bobby, when you go offshore out to the deep water, what other fish will you be chasing?
Walker: Besides yellowfin and blackfin tuna, we’ll often find dolphin, wahoo and marlin, which are our primary targets when we fish offshore, along current and grass lines. However, we’re certainly not unhappy if we catch either a white or a blue marlin, while we’re trolling for these species. When the blue water starts coming in this month, big king mackerel – 40- to 50-pounds each sometimes and generally 15- to 20-pounds each - also start showing-up around the oil rigs.
Question: Bobby, if anglers go out this month specifically targeting marlin, what will their chances be of catching one?
Walker: The odds of catching a blue marlin now are much less than they were 20-years ago. Long-line fishermen have had an impact on the marlin population. We’re finding marlin around oil rigs with a lot of bait. In June, we fished one rift and we had four or five blue marlin come up and attack our baits. We didn’t hook one, but we had about four chances to catch one. We’ve started seeing quite a few white marlin and swordfish.
Question: When you go on a marlin trip, you’ll catch more than marlin, right?
Walker: You’ll have a chance to catch tuna, wahoo and dolphin, and we’ll try to work in some bottom fishing to catch snapper, grouper and amberjacks. We’ve also got lines out for wahoo when we go out to deep water. We’ve caught wahoo only 20- or 30-miles offshore that will have taken first place in a wahoo tournament.
To fish with Captain Bobby Walker, visit www.bobbywalker.com
, email firstname.lastname@example.org
, or call 251-981-6159 or 251-747-3575.