Editor’s Note: The water’s clearing-up, gag grouper season has started, the flounder are on the rampage, the bull reds are starting to show-up, the speckled trout are biting, and the weather’s still warm.
Captain Don McPherson (251-981-8047, www.getawaycharters.com
) of Getaway Charters based out of Zeke’s Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama, says, “We’ve been catching a number of Spanish mackerel near shore that have weighed from 2- to 5-pounds each by trolling with Drone Spoons. Although we’re catching a few king mackerel, the bite has been slow. We’re expecting the big, fall kings to
start showing-up any day. We caught our first bull red a few days ago, and it weighed 25 pounds. One or two more cool nights, and the bull reds will be hitting the beach like they do every fall. Further offshore, the fishing has been really good. We’ve caught a good variety of species of fish, including 2- to 3-pound vermilion snapper and keeper-sized triggerfish. As we move-out to deeper water, we’ll catch scamp and amberjacks that will weigh from 20- to 40-pounds each. The red grouper bite has been good, and our gag grouper season opens September 16. Of course, you still can catch and release a number of big red snapper right now.
“Remember, the big bull reds are some of the best action of the fall and the winter, and they’re starting to come-in now. These giant redfish often weigh up to 30-pounds each. Although you can catch the big bull reds trolling, finding a school of them and catching them on light tackle is a tremendous fishing experience. We’re expecting a big push of redfish soon, and if you’ve never caught those big reds, don’t let this season pass without trying-out some of that action. The good news is that the bull red fishing starts in the fall, and we’ll be catching them all winter long.”
Captain Rick Murdoch (251-424-0144, www.alabamagirlfishing.com
) of the Alabama Girl Fishing Charters, fishes inshore out of Fort Morgan and Orange Beach, Ala. “We targeted speckled trout the first week of September and found them holding on the rigs out in Mobile Bay,” Murdoch says. “We’ve been using slip corks and fishing with live shrimp. Until now, we’ve fished with liv
e croakers. But right now the trout seem to more readily attack the shrimp than the croakers. Our trout weigh from 3- to 4-pounds each. The first week of September, three clients caught their limit of 30 trout on a 4-hour trip. The flounder also are now moving into the bay and holding on any rock structure you can find, like the jetties, the marinas and primarily on the south shoreline. The flounder will weigh 2- to 3-pounds each or more. Because the speckled trout and the flounder bite have been good, we haven’t yet had the chance to fish for redfish on the Dixey Bar, but I know they’re concentrated there.
“The first week of September, we located a big school of tarpon, redfish and sharks off Sand Island. We tried to catch the tarpon, but the redfish would attack the baits before the tarpon could get them. Those redfish weighed about 25-pounds each, and the tarpon weighed about 30- to 80-pounds each. We’ll see several schools of six to eight tarpon in a day. The mouth of the bay has a target-rich environment with sharks, redfish and tarpon. And although north Alabama has gotten a lot of rain, Mobile Bay has surprisingly remained clear. The speckled trout should stay in the south end of the bay for at least one month, until we get a few cold snaps, and then they’ll move-up the Delta rivers and creeks. I’ve trailered my boat, so I can fish Fort Morgan or Orange Beach, wherever I can find the most fish for my customers.”
Gulf State Park Pier:
David Thornton reports that, “The water’s starting to clear-up on the pier. However, the Delta is a little dingy, especially from the floods on the Tombigbee River, and t
he Mississippi Sound is still stirred-up and a little dingy. But the water is slowly clearing-up along the beaches. The flounder bite has been good. Anglers on the pier have caught 20 to 30 flounder or more. Most of the flounder are caught on live bull minnows and finger mullets. A few speckled trout and slot-sized reds have been caught from the pier, primarily at night. On the end of the pier, anglers are catching white trout and Spanish mackerel. The king mackerel haven’t yet shown-up, but we’re expecting them to arrive any day. The water temperature has dropped from the upper to the mid-80s, which will make the king mackerel start moving toward the pier. The water and the pier are in much-better shape this week than last week.” To learn more about fishing the Gulf State Park Pier, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, call 251-948-7275.
The Orange Beach Fishing Association (www.obfishingassn.com
) will be glad to find you and your family a captain and a boat that fits your needs. For accommodation and restaurant recommendations, contact Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism at 800-745-SAND, or visit www.orangebeach.com
. To have your fresh fish prepared at the beach, go to www.gulfshores.com, click on restaurants
, and check box for “Will Cook Your Catch.”
Blackened Grouper with Lobster Sauce
This recipe from George Sarris in Birmingham, Ala., a well-known seafood expert who has owned many restaurants in the area, is absolutely divine. If you have the opportunity to catch grouper at Alabama’s Gulf Coast this month, this dish is perfect for you to wow all your friends.
1/2-cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 - 6- to 8-ounce fillets of fresh grouper
2 tablespoons blackened/cajun seasoning spice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Heat oil in large skillet. On a separate plate, roll fish fillets in cajun spice. Place fish into hot skillet, until they turn a nice, golden-red color. Remove the fish from the oil, and squeeze lemon juice onto fish. Serve with Lobster or Shrimp Sauce.
Lobster or Shrimp Sauce
2 ounces butter or margarine
1/2-medium-size yellow onion, finely diced
1/2-red or green bell pepper, finely diced
1 green onion or scallion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1 teaspoon minced raw garlic
3 ounces chopped lobster-tail meat or shrimp
1/3-cup white wine (the alcohol will dissipate from the cooking)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/3-cup heavy cream or half and half
1 teaspoon lobster base (Look for Better Than Bouillon Lobster Base next to the bouillon in your grocery store, or check specialty food stores and places that sell seafood.)
In medium saucepan, melt butter, add onion, bell pepper, scallion, parsley and garlic. Caramelize until tender. Add lobster meat or shrimp, white wine, lemon juice and heavy cream. Reduce slightly, and fold-in lobster base. Mix well. Reduce to low heat. Pour generously onto grouper fillets.