Editor’s Note: Rick Murdoch is captain of the “Alabama Girl” insOrange Beach Fishinghore charter boat, based out of Gulf Shores Marina at Fort Morgan, formerly the Fort Morgan Marina, located on the Fort Morgan Peninsula in Gulf Shores, Alabama. This week, he’ll give us a fishing report for Fort Morgan.

Question: Rick, what will the floodwaters coming from the North down the Mississippi River and the Alabama River do to the fishing at Fort Morgan?
Murdoch: As long as they don’t open all the floodgates on the Alabama River and above, the fishing should stay stable. But if we do have a big influx of fresh water, most of the speckled trout, redfish and flounder will move to the south end of the bay, where Fort Morgan is located. So, fishing at Fort Morgan will be good. Too, the hotter the weather gets, the better the fishing will be at Fort Morgan.

Question: What size speckled trout have you caught this spring?
Murdoch: The minimum length limit is 14 inches, but we’ve caught 5- to 6-pound speckled trout, 25- to 28-inches long. Orange Beach Fishing

Question: How has the fishing for redfish been?
Murdoch: The slot limit on redfish is 16- to 26-inches long, meaning you can keep a redfish that’s at least 16-inches long but no more than 26-inches long. However, you can have one redfish more than 26-inches long in your bag. Inside Mobile Bay, we have plenty of slot-sized redfish that we can keep. At the mouth of the bay, on Dixey Bar, you can catch monster-sized bull reds, take pictures and then release them.

Question: What about the flounder at Fort Morgan?
Murdoch: The flounder are starting to show-up right now, and we should have some flounder available to catch all summer.

Question: What time does your trip start in the morning, and what time does it end?
Murdoch: The times we fish really depend on the customer, because they tell us when they want to start their trips. Most of our customers are here on vacation and want to sleep-in until 8:00 am or 9:00 am, even though the speckled trout bite is best right at daylight. But we start whenever our customers want to begin. Orange Beach fishing

Question: What do you generally catch on a 4-hour trip?
Murdoch: We’ll usually have 10 to 15 speckled trout, a couple of redfish, one or two flounder and a few sheepshead. But the sheepshead are scattered across the bay, because their spawn has ended. We primarily concentrate on speckled trout in late May.

Question: What do you use to catch those speckled trout?
Murdoch: We catch our speckled trout on artificial lures and live bait. We prefer to fish top-water lures that you can give a walk-the-dog type action to when we’re fishing at daylight. After the top-water bite ends, we like to fish chartreuse-colored soft-plastic lures. We prefer to catch our trout on artificial lures, but if the trout aren’t biting those, we’ll use live shrimp or live croakers. We fish all our baits on 12-pound-test line.

Question: What’s the biggest trout you’ve caught this spring of 2011?
Murdoch: The biggest one weighed more than 6 pounds.

Question: Why do you like to fish the Fort Morgan area?
Murdoch: There’s not nearly as much boat traffic at Fort Morgan as there is in many of the other back-bay areas.

Question: Around what type of structure do you fish at Fort Morgan?
Murdoch: We primarily fish oyster bars, public reefs, old oil and gas rigs, sandbars and holes in the bottom. We also fish the cuts and the troughs out on the front beach on the Gulf of Mexico side. Many people don’t realize that the trout also feed and hold on the beach side of Fort Morgan. Too, at this time of year, we catch some of our biggest trout fishing the front beach. The incoming tide is the best time to fish for speckled trout on the beach side of Fort Morgan. The mouth of the bay is a natural funnel for the baitfish and the speckled trout.

Question: If you were serious about catching some nice-sized speckled trout, what time should you be on the water?
Murdoch: The best time to start fishing is 2 hours before daOrange Beach Fishingylight, and the most-productive place to fish is around the lights on the oil and the gas rigs. Then when that bite ends, we’ll fish on the structure during the first 2 hours of daylight. We haven’t taken any night trips yet, but that’s a very-productive time to catch trout here in the bay. If someone wants to fish at night at Fort Morgan, we’ll be happy to take them.

To contact Captain Rick Murdoch of Alabama Girl Inshore Charters, call 251-424-0144. For more information about fishing guides and charter boats, lodging accommodations, restaurants and entertainment on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, call 800-745-SAND (7263), or visit www.orangebeach.com.

Speckled Trout Enzo

4, 7-ounce speckled trout fillets
Flour seasoned with salt & pepper
Eggwash made of 4 eggs mixed with 3 cups of milk

Polenta Mixture:
16-ounce pack Italian polenta
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper (add more if you wish)
Salt for desired taste
3 tablespoons fresh, chopped parsley
3 tablespoons fresh, chopped chives

Butter Sauce:
Pound of unsalted butter
1/4-cup lemon juice
Black pepper as desired
1/4-cup white wine
1/4-cup bread crumbs
4 tablespoons parsley

In medium bowl, mix all of the ingredients of the polenta mixture together. Take cleaned trout fillet, and lightly dust in flour. Then dip in eggwash, and finally coat in polenta mixture. Heat 10-inch sauté skillet over high heat. Add olive oil, and place coated trout, skin-side up, in skillet. Sauté until golden brown, and then turn with spatula. Continue cooking until golden brown. Place on serving platter, and squeeze lemon on fish.

Sauce Preparation:
Heat butter in small saucepot over medium heat until the butter begins to turn light brown. Remove from heat, and add lemon juice, black pepper, white wine, breadcrumbs and parsley. Mix well. Spoon sauce over fish right before serving.