Editor’s Note: During the first half of August, you still can catch and keep red snapper, but red snapper season will close on August 15. However, plenty of other hard-fighting, delicious-eating, fun-to-catch fish still swim then off Alabama’s Gulf Coast. Captain Ben Fairey of the charter boat “Necessity,” based out of Orange Beach Marina, says, “Y’all come on down in August. We have plenty of fish.”
Question: Ben, what’s the average-sized red snapper you’ll be catching at this time of year?
Fairey: Our average red snapper will weigh 3- to 7-pounds each. However, catching snapper weighing 10- to 15-pounds each isn’t uncommon, especially if you downsize the line you’re using and fish with live bait. At Orange Beach, Ala., this year, catching really-big red snapper weighing 15 to 30 pounds has become more common on fishing trips.
Question: Ben, after snapper season ends, what else will you be catching?
Our fall fishing starts the last of August, and the cool weather and the lack of fishing pressure really creates some great fishing here on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. We have had a phenomenal amberjack season. We caught a number of amberjacks throughout the spring and the summer, and apparently, the amberjack bite will hold-up strong this month. Too, we’re catching plenty of triggerfish, vermilion snapper, scamp, gag grouper, red grouper, red porgies, king mackerel, Spanish mackerel and wahoo, and our offshore fishery will start booming this month, too. Offshore we’ll be catching white marlin, sailfish, tuna, dolphin, wahoo and an occasional blue marlin. The wahoo fishing really starts to pick-up the end of August and continues to get better all the way through November.
Question: What do you generally fish for when you go to that deep, cobalt-blue water off Alabama’s Gulf Coast on a 10- to a 12-hour trip?
Fairey: Alabama’s blue water moves in really close to shore this month - usually within 30 or 40 miles of Orange Beach. We’ll be fishing areas like the Nipple, the Elbow, the Squiggles, the top end and the Dumping Grounds. Every year, we have a really-strong run of white marlin then. The wahoo fishing is strong, and our tuna fishing will really be good. Also, in late August and September, we often see whale sharks, and the yellowfin tuna love to hold close to the whale sharks.
Question: Why do the tuna concentrate around the whale sharks?
Fairey: The whale sharks feed on baby shrimp and small baitfish while eating vertically. They’ll be standing straight up and down underwater in all this bait and straining the bait through their mouths. The tuna prefer to feed around the same type of baitfish the whale sharks eat. I’ve caught 100-pound-plus yellowfin tuna before fishing around whale sharks. We also catch plenty of blackfin tuna
and skipjack tuna around the whale sharks. The purple-and-black-striped skipjack tuna will weigh 10- to 30-pounds each. They’re really-pretty fish.
Question: What about the grouper fishing during August?
Fairey: Grouper and scamp have been very consistent all year. When we fish for grouper, we use a slightly-longer leader than we generally use to fish for snapper. We fish with a small circle hook and live bait. Also, we’ve learned this year that the scamp have started to bite dead squid really well. So, we fish rocks on the bottom, south of Orange Beach, and use a different fishing technique than we normally do for snapper when we’re targeting grouper and scamp. Our three primary types of grouper are red grouper, gag grouper and scamp in this section of the Gulf of Mexico.
Question: You mentioned earlier that the amberjack fishing has been really good. How big are the amberjacks you’ll be catching this month?
Fairey: The average amberjack we keep is 33 to 40 inches. These fish will weigh an average of 20 to 30 pounds. This year, we’re having the best amberjack fishing I’ve seen in years.
Question: What about the king mackerel fishing?
Fairey: We’ve had really-good king mackerel fishing throughout July and expect to during August. I
believe we’ll continue to catch plenty of king mackerel through October. Our section of the Gulf has really-clear water now, and the king mackerel have been thick just outside of the pass at Orange Beach. We’ve been live-bait fishing around the buoys, and on our 6-hour trips, we troll as we leave the pass and when we return to the pass. The king mackerel we catch in close weigh 8- to 15-pounds each. But when we go out to deeper water, we usually will catch the 20- to 40-pound king mackerel holding above some of the deeper structure where we’ll be bottom fishing. We put out live bait and let the baits swim on free lines when we bottom fish for those bigger kings.
To fish with Captain Ben Fairey on the “Necessity,” call 251-747-5782 or Stella Fill (his booking agent) at 251-981-4510. You many also visit www.captben.com
, or email him at email@example.com
. Be sure to check out “Necessity” on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/necessity.charters1