Editor’s Note: Butch Tucker, captain of the “Shady Lady” out of Zeke’s Landing Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama, fishes all winter with charter parties. This month, Tucker tells us what’s biting offshore and invites you to fish Alabama’s Gulf Coast.






During October, anglers still can catch red snapper and plenty of other species offshore. Right now, we’re catching six species of snapper – red snapper, vermilion snapper (beeliners), white snapper, lane snapper, yellowfin snapper and black snapper (gray snapper). The triggerfish are biting well along with amberjack, scamp, grouper, wahoo and numbers of king mackerel.

October is a great month to fish at the Gulf Coast. The charter party we take out determines the size of snapper we catch. Some customers want to catch really-big snapper that will weigh 8- to 15-pounds each or bigger. Other clients want to catch two red snapper each and then fish for other species. I’ve got a party this week who wants to catch a limit of red snapper and then head out to deep water and fish for grouper, scamp, vermilion snapper and amberjack.

The vermilion snapper really has benefited our charter business. On some of our fishing spots, we catch vermilion snapper weighing 3- to 5-pounds each, which we call footballs, since they’re chunky and resemble the shape of a football. With most charter parties, we fish for what’s biting best. If the vermilion snapper are biting consistently, we’ll fish for them. Or, we may target amberjack, scamp or grouper. The good thing about Orange Beach is that with the number of artificial reefs that the local, state and federal governments as well as private citizens, charter-boat captains and fishing groups have sunk in the Gulf of Mexico, there are plenty of places to catch fish.

The Orange Beach area has great fishing year-round. Even after October, when the season for American red snapper has closed, we still can catch red snapper – we just can’t keep ‘em. We can still put plenty of fish on the boat and keep our rods bent all year. We can bring in as many pounds of fish out of snapper season, when the big triggerfish are just beginning to show up, as we do during snapper season. Increasing numbers of people are learning how much fun catching triggerfish can be and how delicious triggerfish filets taste. In some fish markets, triggerfish costs more than grouper.

On an average trip with 10 to 12 fishermen, I expect to come in with 500 pounds or more of fun-fighting, good-eating fish each day, if we have good weather on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. And, that amount doesn’t count the fish the party may catch and release. Many people don’t realize how good the fishing is in the fall and the winter here.

We have boats bringing in good catches and big fish all year. While people walk around in winter coats north of here, we have anglers on the decks of our boats catching grouper, amberjack and vermilion snapper, while wearing short-sleeve shirts or lightweight jackets. Boats and captains are more available at this time of year, and there’s less competition for the fish. If you’ll come down this fall and winter, the charter-boat captains on Alabama’s Gulf Coast will show you just how good charter fishing can be.

To fish with Butch Tucker, call (850) 587-2064 or (850) 380-3321. For more information about the hotels, restaurants and events at the Gulf Coast, contact the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau at 1-800-745-SAND, or visit www.orangebeach.com.