Editor’s Note: April at Alabama’s Gulf Coast beaches and coastal rivers offers so-many opportunities for fishermen of all ages.
Kids Fishing Jubilee in Gulf Shores:
Circle the date, Saturday April 28, on your calendar for the 12th Annual Kids Fishing Jubilee, which takes place 8:00 am – 12:00 pm. The State of Alabama’s Gulf State Park and Wildlife and Fisheries Division, as well as the city of Gulf Shores and Winn-Dixie will put a large number of catfish in an enclosure at Lake Shelby at Gulf State Park and buy bait for children to fish there for free, ages 15 and younger. The anglers also can keep the catfish they catch. The children can bring their parents to help bait hooks and take catfish off the hooks. Volunteers from the sponsors and others will help at the event. So, plan a trip to Gulf Shores on April 28, and bring all the children to have a great weekend of fishing fun on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. To learn more, you can contact Kelly Reetz or C.J. Jarmon at 251-948-7275.
Inshore Report by Captain Gary Davis of Tidewater Fishing Service in Foley:
This past week, the flounder bite has been good along with a speckled trout bite. We’ve been catching flounder – some really-nice flounder - around the jetties and rocks that line the shore at Fort Morgan and over the piles of ballast stone that were dumped overboard by the sailing ships many years ago. The flounder are biting Gulp! Shrimp with a piece of flounder belly as a natural trailer. We normally catch four to seven flounder, weighing 4- to 5 –pou
nds each, a really-nice flounder, as bonus fish on our trout-fishing trips. The speckled trout and white trout, 17- to 19-inches long and weighing 1-1/2- to 2-pounds, have started moving-in to the artificial reefs inside Mobile Bay in the Fort Morgan area. Occasionally an angler will catch a 3 pounder. The bigger trout should start moving-in any day now. We’re catching plenty of nice-sized white trout.
I’ve also been bream (shellcracker – redear sunfish) fishing in the coastal rivers that flow into the Mobile Bay and finding shellcrackers on the sandy bottoms. I’m fishing with a cork, a small split shot and a cricket. I’ll let the cricket lay on the bottom. I’ve found that this time of year when I bait with worms, I catch little bream, but when I bait with crickets, I catch the bigger shellcrackers. The sheepshead bite around Fort Morgan is about gone, and I’m sure redfish are in Mobile Bay, but I haven’t been fishing for them. To contact Captain Davis, you can call him at 251-942-6298 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Offshore Report with Captain Chip Day of “Chipper’s Clipper,” a Member of the Orange Beach Fishing Association:
Right now in mid- t
o late April, we’re doing a lot of 6-hour and 4-hour charters out of Orange Beach Marina in Orange Beach, Ala. On the 4-hour trips, we’re catching some really-nice Spanish mackerel, weighing from 1 to 3 pounds, and king mackerel averaging 8 to 10 pounds. But some other boats have caught king mackerel weighing up to 60 pounds. During the 6-hour trips, we’re catching some nice triggerfish that will weigh 3 to 7 pounds and vermilion snapper weighing from 1 to 3 pounds. Too, we’re catching and releasing numbers of white snapper. We’re catching and releasing a lot of 8-pound-plus American red snapper, and because we’re not fishing in very-deep water, these red snapper can be released with a higher survival rate. We’re still catching some 30- to 40-pound cobia. I think the best part of the cobia run hasn’t shown-up yet, since historically, this coming weekend has been the time that you catch the most cobia. The overnight trips have been producing some good yellowfin and blackfin tuna and some good-sized wahoo. To learn more, go to www.chippersclipper.com
, or call at 251-952-8247 or 251-981-1943.
Gulf State Park Pier Report with David Thornton:
The end of last week, there were 2 or 3 days where big schools of bull reds showed-up within casting distance of the pier. Ten or 12 anglers caught some bull reds that weighed from 18 to 25 pounds. The king mackerel catch has spotty at the pier. On a good day, 50 or more king mackerel will be caught on the pier, with only 5 to 6 taken on a bad day.
Although most of these king mackerel will weigh 15 to 20 pounds, some will weigh 30 pounds or more. We’re still seeing a few cobia, with one caught and landed on the pier last week. Most of the cobia are caught by people fishing
with live Lys (alewives). However, you’ll never know what you may catch when you cast a live LY off the pier in mid- to
late April – possibly a king mackerel, a cobia, a shark or a bull red.
Last week I had the thrill of a lifetime when I hooked-up to the biggest tarpon I’d ever seen - probably a 125 pounder or more. This time of year is really early for us to start seeing tarpon off the Pier. But we’ve been spotting tarpon for the last couple of weeks. I was fishing with a large sardine, and when the tarpon took the bait, he jumped once and then took-off. That tarpon took 300 yards of 20-pound-test line off my spool in less than 3 minutes.
Too, we’re starting to catch more flounder now on the pier as well as speckled trout. The pompano and the whiting are beginning to spawn, and 2- to 3-pound pompano are being caught. Pier fishing has really been good this week, and from all indications, it’s going to continue to get better. To learn more about the Gulf State Park Pier, call 251- 948-7275, or visit www.alapark.com/GulfState/Gulf State Park Pier
The Orange Beach Fishing Association will be glad to find you and your family a captain and a boat that fits your needs. The good news is that you don’t have to leave your wife and children at home when you visit Alabama’s Gulf Coast. There’s plenty to do and see. For more information on fishing guides and charter boats, lodging accommodations, restaurants and entertainment on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, call Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism at 800-745-SAND (7263), or visit www.orangebeach.com
Grilled Orange Pompano
Since delicious-tasting pompano are mainly abundant on Alabama’s Gulf Coast in the spring, enjoy them now. Remember that a pompano is a lean, high-quality protein source and contains three fatty acids thought to help lower blood cholesterol.
4 mesquite chips
1/2-teaspoon grated orange rind
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2-teaspoon dried tarragon
4 pompano fillets – about 1 pound
Soak mesquite in water for 30 minutes. Build a fire in the barbeque to medium heat. Combine orange rind, orange juice, butter and tarragon in a small bowl. Set aside. Drain chips, and place directly on medium coals (gas grill owner may have to make an aluminum foil boat for the wood and wait until they start to smoke). Grill pompano 6-inches from coals, about 5 minutes on each side, until fish flakes easily with a fork. Baste often with orange-juice mixture.