Editor’s NOrange Beach fishingote: Pete Aguon of Robertsdale, Alabama, fishes regularly at the Gulf State Park Pier in Gulf Shores, Alabama. He and the other Pier Rats, as the group of dedicated pier anglers are known, are always happy to provide information and to help other pier fishermen.

Get ready for some rod-bending action, reel-squealing excitement and big fish coming over the rail at the Gulf State Park Pier (GSPP) in Orange Beach, Ala. during April. The big news this month is the 1st Annual Cobia Tournament to be held on the pier March 15-April 30. Since the cobia often will swim in-close to shore and be right under the surface, there’s a very-good chance that the pier fishermen may have an excellent run of cobia this year. There’s really no telling how big the cobia will be that pier anglers will catch. For more information on the tournament, visit www.emeraldcoastpierfishing.com, and look for a thread titled “1st Annual GSPP Cobia Tournament” on the left side of the screen. You also can click “Search” and type “Cobia Tournament” in the search box. Prizes for the three divisions include gift cards in varying amounts from $75-$300, red-snapper opening-day charter trips as well as a custom rod by Obie Hill (Men’s 1st Place), a custom rod by Jeb Brantley (Women’s 1st Place) and a Toshiba mini laptop (Youth 1st Place). The tournament is sponsored by Pete Aguon, Bass Pro Shops, John Giannini and J&M Tackle and Mo Fishin Bait & Tackle in Orange Beach.

At the first of the month, the Spanish mackerel will start showing-up at the pier and right behind them will be the king mackerel. However, all the pelagic species, liOrange Beach fishinke mackerel and cobia, may arrive a bit later at Alabama’s Gulf Coast this year than in past seasons, since the area’s had the coldest winter in recent years. In mid-March, the water temperature of the Gulf of Mexico was still in the low 60s at Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Every time the water started to clear-up, a major cold front seemed to move into the area. But with plenty of sunshine, like we generally have in April, by the second week of April, the fishing should be busting loose on the pier. This month is when we usually catch a lot of quality-size flounder on the pier. There still should be bull reds being caught in April. Too, this should be a good month for pompano, one of the most-delicious fish for tablefare to be found on the Gulf Coast. As the water warms-up and the baitfish move-in, more of those silver-dollar-colored pompano will start showing-up.

Also, we should get another strong run of whiting in April. We’ve still got plenty of white trout and ground mullet that are always biting at the pier. We may get a stray speckled trout coming through in April, but I don’t really expect the speckled trout to show-up until May. Although you can get special rods built for fishing for cobia and king mackerel, you can dOrange Beach fishingo very well catching these fish on flipping rods built for freshwater bass fishing. Most pier fishermen use 20-pound-test line. The secret to catching cobia and king mackerel this month will be using reels with large spools, so you can pack a lot of line on them. A cobia or a king mackerel making a 100-yard run is not uncommon. Some of the best pier fishing of the spring starts this month, so plan to come to Alabama’s Gulf Coast, and get in on the action.

Broiled Stuffed Flounder

1 stick butter
1 medium onion, minced
Several green onions
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 cup raw shrimp, chopped
Small can mushrooms
1/4-pound crabmeat
2 tablespoons parsley, minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4-cup cream
Salt and pepper
3 ounces cooking wine, plus 1/4-ounce for basting (the alcohol will burn-off)
4 flounder, 2 to 2-1/4-pounds each
2 tablespoons oil

Sauté the onion and green onions in butter until soft. Add celery, and sauté 2- to 3-minutes longer. Add shrimp and mushrooms, and sauté until the shrimp are pink. Add crabmeat, parsley, Worcestershire, cream and enough breadcrumbs to hold the dressing together. Season to taste. Make a slit in the flounder. Stuff this pocket with dressing, and close with the aid of small skewers. Heat 2 tablespoons oil along with 2 tablespoons butter in a large flat pan. Place the stuffed fish in pan and broil under low flame, basting with the butter/oil mixture. Add the remainder of wine to liquid in pan for basting (turning fish is not necessary). Keep the flame low. When the top of the fish is golden brown or slightly darker, the fish will be cooked through. Spoon the remaining sauce from the pan over the fish, and garnish with the parsley and lemon wedges.