Our What’s Biting Series has returned just in time for spring. Learn the latest tips and techniques with a new post each Tuesday.

Editor’s Note: Spring break finally has arrived. School’s out, the temperature’s heating-up, the water’s warmed-up, the seas are calm, and the fish are biting. Anglers have a variety of choices when picking where and how to fish this month. Plenty of charter boats and captains are available. You can fish inshore, near shore, offshore or at the Gulf State Park Pier. You can charter a private boat for you and/or your family, friends and co-workers, or you can book a party boat. This month, the choices are limitless.

Near Shore:
Captain Troy Frady of the charter boat “Distraction,” based out of Orange Beach Marina, reports that fishing at the Alabama Gulf Coast has been heating-up the last Orange Beach Fishinfew weeks, and the baitfish are moving-in closer to shore. “Since the baitfish are moving-in close to shore, we’ll be trolling for bull reds,” Frady says. “We also may start seeing cobia this month. We’ve seen cobia as early as March 10 before, but they generally come-in stronger the last 2 weeks of March. Too, when we have the first full moon in March, we should start seeing Spanish mackerel near shore.”

This month, Frady will be fishing out on the natural bottom in about 100 feet of water on his bottom-fishing trips and catching vermilion snapper, red porgy and triggerfish. “We’ll also be catching and releasing red snapper,” Frady explains. “Our most-popular trips, because of the rise of fuel prices, will be our 4- and 6-hour trips. We usually run a 6-hour trip in the morning starting at 7:00 am and a 4-hour trip in the afternoon beginning at 2:00 pm. Anglers can keep up to 20 fish per person, which is an aggregate limit. Amberjack season is still open; however, it takes a full-day charter, 10 to 12 hours, to reach the deep water where the amberjacks are located. You’ll also find king mackerel and wahoo concentrated in that deep water. The king mackerel will start moving inshore about the last 2 weeks of March and show-up first at the Trysler Grounds.” To fish with Captain Troy Frady on the charter boat “Distraction,” call him at 251-975-8111, or visit www.distractioncharters.com.

Spring Break Party Boat Special:
On a party boat, you can fish by yourself or with family, friends or co-workers. Party boats generally run every day. To book a trip on a party boat, make sure to call 1 or 2 days in advance of your trip. Captain Randy Boggs, based at SanRoc Cay Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama, fishes bothOrange Beach charters inshore and offshore on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. He has three boats available for party-boat fishing – the “Reel Surprise,” the “Gulf Winds” and the “Wishbone.”

“We’re running quite a few party-boat trips every day during March,” Boggs says. “From now until March 15, we’re running a Spring Break special. Our 6-hour trip has been reduced from $85 to $65 per person. This price includes bait, tackle and license. On this trip, we leave at 8:00 am and return to the dock at 2:00 pm. We catch and keep a number of vermilion snapper, triggerfish and white snapper, and we catch and release red snapper and grouper. The fishing has been excellent this month and should only get better as the water warms-up. The weather has warmed-up, the seas have calmed, the water’s pretty, and the fish are biting better. We can accommodate from one to 35 fishermen on our party boats. We specialize in taking families fishing. My daughter is 5-years old, and she’s fished with me since she could walk. We want everyone in the family to fish with us. We have people on our trips that catch and keep 5 to 20 pounds of fish on a trip and others that may catch and release 50 red snapper and grouper.” For more information about SanRoc Cay Marina and/or fishing with Captain Randy Boggs, call 251-981-7173, or check www.sanroccay.com or www.reelsurprisecharters.com.  

Gulf State Park State Pier Report:
Teresa Carlisle, manager of the Gulf State Park Pier in Gulf Shores, Ala., says, “We’re starting to see pompano, ground mullet, white trout, whiting and Spanish mackerel show-Orange Beach fishingup on the pier. We’ve also seen a few jack crevalle, redfish and black drum at the pier. Redfish are being caught off the end of the pier, and as the baitfish move-in, and the water warms-up, the redfish should start showing-up more frequently.” To learn more about fishing the Gulf State Park Pier, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, call 251-948-7275.

Here’s a recipe for Captain Troy Frady’s Grilled Alabama Redfish

2 to 4 large redfish fillets, skin and scales on
2 tablespoons of crushed, minced garlic
2 tablespoons of low-salt Creole seasoning
4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1/2-cup melted sweet, salted butter
1/4-cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing
1 sliced lime or lemon for decoration

Wash redfish fillets thoroughly, and pat dry with paper towels. Spread minced garlic and some low-salt Creole seasoning over the top of the meat side, and let marinate for about 30 minutes. Mix olive oil, vinaigrette and melted butter in a bowl, and set aside. Preheat your gas grill or charcoal grill to about 350 degrees. (Higher heat will cause the scales to burn.) Rub oil and melted butter on both sides of the redfish fillets. Place redfish fillets on the grill, skin-side up to char the meat side. Cook 10 minutes on this side. Gently turn redfish fillets to where the skin and scale side is down. Brush the oil mixture on top of the fillets and place lemon or lime slices on top oOrange Beach Fishingf the fillets and close the grill. Open the grill every 15 minutes to check the redfish. Brush olive oil and vinaigrette gently over the redfish fillets when you check them. Cooking time is usually between 30 to 45 minutes total.

Tips on Grilling Redfish:
Bull redfish fillets may weigh as much as 3-pounds each. One 3-pound fillet will feed two or three people. Adjust your ingredients to the amount of redfish you’re preparing. You can’t mess-up this recipe. It’s easy. Don’t overcook your redfish. Fish shouldn’t be dry after being cooked. Use your fork to check the flakiness of the meat. Fish meat holds a lot of water. You want to cook your fish to a point where the water dissipates, and the redfish fillet is flaky, not dried-out. If the heat’s too high on your grill, you can end-up burning the skin and making a mess. Try to keep it between 325 to 350 degrees. Remember, don’t flip the fish after your initial turn to skin side down. The skin is designed to act like a platter and hold the fillet together.

Note: If you have skinless redfish fillets, you can raise the grill’s temperature to 425 degrees, but don’t overcook the fish. Flip once. Skinless fillets should be done within 10 to 12 minutes at this higher temperature. The scales act as an insulator and allow you to slow-cook your fish. Don’t eat the dark meat on the redfish. Pick around it, as this meat is stronger tasting and isn’t considered tasty.