Editor’s Note: Captain Art Jones of the charter boat the “Dana J” docks at San Roc Cay Marina and has fished and guided at Orange Beach, Alabama, since 19
Question: What will you be fishing for in September?
Jones: September is a great month for amberjacks, grouper, vermilion snapper, white snapper, mangrove snapper - pretty much everything we’ve been catching in the summer months. But we’ll have to throw all the red snapper back. The red snapper in September will be catch and release, but September is a great month to get photos of big red snapper.
Question: What’s the best trip to take to catch some eating fish in September?
Jones: You don’t want to take less than an 8-hour trip i
f you’re planning to bottom fish. In 8 hours, we usually can fast-troll on the way out from shore for some king mackerel. Then when we arrive where the bottom fish are, we’ve got about 4 hours of fishing time before we have to leave to return to shore. We’ll target triggerfish, vermilion snapper, mangrove snapper and grouper, and of course, we’ll be catching red snapper that will have be released. But they’re fun to catch. Some of the red snapper we catch and release during September will weigh 10-15 pounds. The grouper we catch in September will be gag grouper and black grouper – about 24-30 inches long. There’s some really-nice mangrove snapper available in September where we fish. They will average 16-18 inches long, and several caught during the trip will weigh 7-10 pounds. Our vermilion snapper will be 12-14 inches long, but we have caught some all the way up to 22-inches long that will weigh 3-3/1/2-pounds. Those vermilion snapper are really tasty. You really can’t tell the difference in them and the red snapper, except that the meat of the vermilion snapper is more moist then the red snapper’s flesh.
Question: How big will the triggerfish be?
ones: The triggerfish have to be at least 14-inches long to the fork of the tail for us to keep them. On the average, that’s about a 4- or a 5-pound triggerfish. During September and October, we generally catch more triggerfish than we do during the summer months.
Question: What kinds of places are you fishing offshore?
Jones: For the vermilion snapper, we’ll fish coral bottom and rocks, using squid for bait. The way we fish is to try and catch everyone’s aggregate. You can have 20-reef fish – only 10 of which can be vermilion snapper – in an aggregate. And, the good news is that the grouper don’t count in that 20-reef fish aggregate. You can keep one red grouper, two gag grouper and three black grouper, but you only can have five grouper in your grouper aggregate. So, you can catch 25 nice fish.
Question: What else will you be catching this month?
Jones: We’ll be catching king mackerel too. When we stop to bottom fish, we’ll also put out a drift line with a live pinfish or dead cigar minnow on it to catch king mackerel. In September, we’ll catch 10- to 30-pound-each. king mackerel. We usually average six to eight king mackerel per day on a September trip.
Question: What’s the advantage to bottom fishing out of Orange Beach, Alabama, in September?
Jones: The fishing pressure in September is certainly much less than it is d
uring the summer months. Too, we’ll usually catch bigger fish in September than we do in the summertime. September and October are when we start seeing the really-big red snapper. Even though we can’t keep them, they’re really fun to catch. And as I mentioned, September is when we see the big king mackerel. So, I’ll tell anyone coming down this month to bring a camera, because more than likely, he or she will have some big fish to photograph. Also, getting the captain and the boat you want to fish with is much easier in September than in the summer. Often if you’ll call 2 or 3 days ahead of time, you can find the captain and the boat with whom you want to fish.
To fish with Captain Art Jones, call him at (850) 944-3124, or email him at email@example.com
Although you can’t enjoy eating red snapper this month, since you must release them, this Roquefort-Crusted Snapper Fillets’ recipe that comes from Sarris’ Steak and Seafood Restaurant in Birmingham, Ala., works well for vermilion or mangrove snapper.
Roquefort-Crusted Snapper Fillet
1 pound Gulf of Mexico 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
1/2 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. Can be served with a side of lemon and butter.