Editor’s Note: Captain Johnny Greene of the “Intimidator,” based at of Orange Beach Marina, in Orange Beach, Ala., takes his customers deep-dropping offshore for all kinds of hard-fighting, good-eating fish.

December is a great month to fish, and there are plenty of fish to be caught this month, especially if you pick days when the weather’s good. We’ve got yellowfin tuna, blackfin tuna, and wahoo. December’s prOrange Beach fishingoven to be a great month for deep-dropping down to 500-700 feet for yellowedge grouper, snowy grouper, longtail bass and a lot of other fish that many blue-water fishermen aren’t accustomed to seeing that are fun to catch and delicious to eat.

The advancement of the Daiwa electric reel has made deep-dropping affordable and a way of fishing that anybody can do now. Because these reels are affordable now, a small businessman like a boat captain can go out and buy three or four of these reels with the line capacity to be able to get a bait down to deep water. Plus, these reels don’t draw so much electricity that you have to carry a spare battery for each reel.

Deep-dropping is basically an untapped resource in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Although quite a few people are talking about deep-dropping, very-few people have actually been on a deep-drop trip. Sometimes anglers don’t realize that getting your bait to the bottom when you’re fishing like this may take 2 to 4 minutes. Ten minutes may be required to reel a big fish up from the bottom. But this kind of fishing can be a lot of fun with these power-assisted reels. We can fairly consistently catch deep grouper and longtail bass, and those longtail bass are neat-looking fish. They resemble somewhat a crappie in shape and size. They have paper-thin mouths and if you Orange Beach fishingreally find a big school of them, you can often catch two or three of them in one drop. We usually fish three or four hooks when we’re deep-dropping, so this sport is a lot of fun.

When you’re deep-dropping, you really have to pay attention to the bite. Usually a person needs to make several deep-drops to understand what a bite feels like at that depth. Then you have to be concerned with how to get the fish up from the bottom to the boat without bringing them up too fast or too slowly. The electric reel doesn’t know when the boat’s rising or falling on a wave. So you have to adjust turning the electric reel on and off to the rise and the fall of the boat. When we’re looking at deep-dropping, we’re usually going to be fishing 400- to 2000-feet deep. But the deepest I’m fishing right now is about 1375 feet. At that depth, we mainly catch four species – spiny-cheekeOrange Beach fishingd scorpionfish, yellowedge grouper, snowy grouper and longtail bass.

All of the fish we catch in that deep water are cold-water fish and very good to eat, and there are very-few size and bag limits on these fish. Another fun thing about deep-dropping is not only will we usually make a good catch of grouper and longtail bass, but my fishermen often will catch fish and then use some of the reference books we have onboard to try to figure out what they’ve just caught. Some variables do determine our success in deep-dropping. You need fairly-good weather to successfully deep-drop. The captain is trying to position the boat, so that when the anglers drop their baits down, the baits can land in the location where the captain has seen the fish or the bottom break.

Now believe it or not, I have some fishermen who want to jig-fish in that deep water. They’re jigging 600- to 800-feet deep with braided line, and they’ve actually been using diamond jigs in that deep water. One guy caught a really-nice golden tilefish deep-jigging. The fish weighed 24 pounds, and that angler fought him all the way to the bottoOrange Beach fishingm of the boat on a manual reel and had a great time. If you decide to deep-jig, you have to understand that you’re probably not going to get a whole lot of bites. But, when you catch a fish using this tactic, that fish may be the fish of a lifetime.

I’m often asked, “How long of a trip should I schedule to go deep-dropping?” I always explain that the angler has to remember that from the time he or she drops his line until it gets to the bottom, by the time he reels it in, even if he doesn’t have a fish on it, the process will take about 10 minutes. So, you need at least a 12-hour trip to a 2-day trip to really see deep-dropping at its best.

This time of year, boat captains aren’t real busy. As long as you can be flexible with your schedule and pick weeks with good weather, you can have a great trip. December is my favorite time to fish. The weather’s usually good, there aren’t many other people fishing, and we can have a really-good time. We usually combine a deep-drop trip with a tuna trip. We’ll generally leave at night to reach the area where we’re going to fish for tuna at daylight or a bit before, tuna fish for a while, deep-drop, fish for tuna late in the evening and at night, and fish for tuna the next morning. There’s lots to do on a trip like this, and a lot of fun-fishing action.

To learn more about Captain Johnny Greene, the “Intimidator” and deep-dropping, visit www.fishorangebeach.com, call (251) 747-2872, or email IntimidatorCharters@yahoo.com.

Broiled Tuna with Parsley-Lemon Butter

4 tuna steaks, 1/2-inch thick (swordfish are also good with this recipe).
4 tablespoons of butter or margarine, melted

Rinse fish steaks under cold, running water. Drain, and pat dry with paper towels. Place on rack of broiler pan. Brush with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Broil 4 inches from heat for 10 minutes. Turn fish, and brush with remaining melted butter. Broil 8 minutes longer or until fish flakes easily when tested with fork.

Parsley-Lemon Butter:
1/4-cup butter or margarine
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons of parsley, chopped

Melt butter in small saucepan. Stir-in lemon juice and parsley. Keep warm. Remove fish to heated serving platter. Pour lemon butter over fish.