Anglers are throwing-back red snapper that weigh 5- to 7-pounds each now, and if you’re wondering why, Captain Troy Frady of Distraction Charters docked at Orange Beach Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama, says, “The red snapper we’reOrange Beach Charters keeping are weighing 8 to 15 pounds this June. Although most of our red snapper are 8-12 pounds, just about every day, someone catches a 12-15 pounder.”

But catching big red snapper is only part of the story of the fantastic fishing available on Alabama’s Gulf Coast this summer. Some of the biggest triggerfish of the year are being caught, as well as vermilion snapper, 18- to 20-inches long, rounding-out the big catches coming to the docks. “I’m running two, 6-hour trips a day, and our fishermen are able to catch and release large numbers of red snapper and only keep the bigger ones they want,” Fray explains. If you walk up and down the docks at Orange Beach Marina, Zeke’s Marina, SanRoc Cay Marina and the other marinas in the Gulf Shores/ Orange Beach area, you’ll see some 20-pound-plus red snapper coming in to the docks almost every day.

Captain Johnny Greene of the charter boat, “Intimidator,” out of Orange Beach Marina, was on a 48-hour-offshore trip at this writing. He called in to say, “We’re keeping 12- to 15-pound snapper, but we’ve also got about 20 snapper that weigh from 23- to 25-pounds each. We’re also catching good numbers of yellowedge grouper, golden tilefish and other kinds of grouper. We’re headed for the deep-water rigs where the yellowfin tuna have been biting really well. This summer may be the very-best fishing for a wide variety of fish that the Orange Beach region has seen in many, many years.”

Plenty of boaOrange Beach Chartersts are available at Orange Beach, whether you’re fishing by yourself on one of the Alabama Gulf Coast’s party boats, or whether you’ve put-together a charter of 6 or more anglers. In the past to catch really-nice-sized red snapper, you had to go on an 8- to a 12-hour fishing trip. However, today red snapper are so abundant on Alabama’s Gulf Coast that anglers on 4- to 6-hour trips are easily catching their limits of red snapper. “One of the advantages of fishing right now in June is that we can keep bent rods all day long,” Frady reports. “You can catch and release red snapper and other fish even after you catch your limit of red snapper. And, we’re seeing a lot of folks practicing catch-and-release on many of our charters.”

If you’ve been waiting all year long to visit Alabama’s Gulf Coast and go fishing, now’s the time to head there. Fishing doesn’t get any better than what you’ll enjoy right now. Not only can you catch large numbers of saltwater fish, but the really-big ones are biting. You’ll be surprised at how-many fun-catching, good-eating fish you can keep after you take your limit of red snapper. The sugar-white beaches that Gulf Shores and Orange Beach always have been known for are back. The water’s clear, and the seafood is as safe and delicious as seafood possibly can be. All Alabama Gulf Coast seafood has been tested, retested and tested yet again and has been certified that it’s good for you to eat. The restaurants in the area have seafood on their menus, Orange Beach Chartersand many of the restaurants will cook a fisherman’s catch. At Zeke’s Marina, Wolf Bay Lodge has a sign in the window that says, “You hook ‘em, and we’ll cook ‘em.” So y’all come.

To fish with Captain Troy Frady on the charter boat “Distraction,” call him at 251-975-8111, or visit www.distractioncharters.com. To fish with Captain Johnny Greene on the “Intimidator,” based at Orange Beach Marina, visit www.fishorangebeach.com, call 251-747-2872, or email fishorangebeach@alabamasnaturalcoast.net. 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. To have your delicious catch prepared at area restaurants, go to www.alabamasnaturalcoast.net/dining-nightlife/restaurants, and check the box at the top of the page that says, “Will cook your catch.”

Whole Red Snapper with Lemon & Rosemary

This uncomplicated recipe is very healthy, looks beautiful and tastes terrific. For extra flavor and an unusual presentation, after grilling the fish on the first side, turn the fish over, and place thin slices of lemon over the entire body of the fish, much like scales. Then place the whole fish on the grill, and continue cooking.

Ingredients:
1 (4 to 5-pound) whole red snapper, cleaned and scales removed - many Gulf Coast captains enjoy using the EZ-ScaleR (www.EZ-ScaleR.com) to quickly remove scaOrange Beach Chartersles on whole fish
10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
10 sprigs rosemary, leaves only
1/4-cup plus 1/4-cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly-ground black pepper
1/4-cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice (from 1 to 2 lemons)
2 tablespoons water

Preparation:
Rinse the fish under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Make three to four slits vertically down to the bone on both sides of the snapper. Place garlic slices, lemon slices and a pinch of rosemary inside each slit. Drizzle the fish with 1/4-cup of the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Put remaining garlic slices, lemon slices and rosemary leaves inside the cavity of the snapper. Place the fish on the grill, closing the lid and grilling 10 minutes per side. Transfer the fish to a pan you can put on the grill. Close the grill’s lid again, and continue cooking for 30 minutes, or until the fish is opaque. Using a whisk, mix the remaining 1/4-cup olive oil, the lemon juice and the water in a small bowl to make a sauce to pour over the grilled fish. 

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