When tail walking and dancing in the air, a tarpon’s scales reflect the sun like hundreds of newly-minted silver dollars thrown into the air. The tarpon (Alabama’s silver king) puts-on a show every day on Gulf Orange Beach FishingShores’ Gulf State Park Pier. “We’re averaging four to five tarpon hook-ups every day on the pier in mid-July,” says Peter Aguon, the unofficial mayor of the pier. “But we’ve only officially caught five. Anglers have brought the tarpon up to the side of the pier and laid the fish on their sides where they can be gaffed, but they then have been released to fight another day. Those tarpon really put-on a show for the fishermen and visitors to the pier. We’ve also seen big schools of redfish come-down the beach every afternoon.”

The redfish will weigh 19- to 24-pounds each in July, with a number of them caught and released at the pier. When the redfish come close to the pier, drags will squall and rods will bend. “We’re still catching numbers of king mackerel and Spanish mackerel off the pier in July,” Aguon explains. “The speckled trout have been biting well, and the pompano and the whiting also are showing-up in good numbers. The tarpon, however, have really been the show-off fish the last few days in mid-July.”

Snapper fishing is red hot right now, and the good news is that everyone is catching them, from children, who need mom and dad to help hold their rods while they reel, to senior citizens, who brace themselves against the rails to catch the abundant bigOrange Beach Fishing snapper. More families are fishing together. A deep-sea fishing trip out of Orange Beach, Ala., doesn’t have to be an all-day affair. On many of the 4- and the 6-hour trips, anglers catch their limits of red snapper.

This year, snapper season has a bonus attraction – the cobia. On almost every 6-hour-or-more charter, anglers fishing the 7,000-plus artificial reefs off Alabama’s Gulf Coast are catching cobia. “The cobia are moving into Alabama waters more this season, because of the large amount of fresh water from the North and the West that’s coming down into the Mississippi River and then opening-up into the Gulf of Mexico,” explains Captain Troy Frady of Distraction Charters (www.distractioncharters.com, 251-975-8111) docked at Orange Beach Marina in Orange Beach, Ala. “The cobia are loading-up on our artificial reefs, because the water off Alabama’s Gulf Coast may be more salty than the waters around Louisiana and Mississippi. But regardless of the reason, there seems to be an unusually-high number of cobia being caught and brought to the docks at Orange Beach. Many of the captains from the Orange Beach Fishing Association (OBFA) report that this may be the best season they’ve ever seen, not because of the number of fish being brought-in, but due to the size of the fish being caught.”

Inshore Report:

“We’re catching good numbers of speckled trout and redfish on the point at Fort Morgan and in the troughs and the sandbars on the Gulf side of Fort Morgan,” says Captain Rick Murdoch of the “Alabama Girl” inshore charter boat (www.alabamagirlfishing.com, 251-424-0144), based out of Gulf Orange Beach FishingShores Marina at Fort Morgan, formerly the Fort Morgan Marina, located on the Fort Morgan Peninsula in Gulf Shores, Ala. “The speckled trout are averaging about 3-pounds each, and we’re also catching some slot redfish in these areas. The trophy redfish that can weigh as much as 30-pounds each are being caught off the Dixey Bar and around the lighthouse. We’re catching most of our fish on 12-pound-test line with live croakers.”

To learn more about fishing the Gulf State Park Pier, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, call 251-948-7275. For a great place to go fishing, to wiggle your toes in sugar-white beach sand and to swim in the beautiful, clean water of the Gulf of Mexico, come-on down, and fish with us on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. The Orange Beach Fishing Association (www.obfishingassn.com) will be glad to find you and your family a captain and a boat that fits your needs. The good news is that you don’t have to leave your wife and children at home when you visit Alabama’s Gulf Coast. There’s plenty to do and see. For accommodation and restaurant recommendations, contact Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism at 800-745-SAND, or visit www.orangebeach.com or www.alabamasnaturalcoast.net.

Electric Skillet Speckled Trout

Although not many people cook with electric skillets today, that’s still one of the easiest ways to make tasty meals without much bother, and you also can control the heat easily while you’re cooking. 

2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion chopped
1 10-3/4-ounce can cream-of-mushroom soup
1/4-teaspoon black pepper
1/4-teaspoon thyme
8 large trout fillets
1 large green pepper chopped or cut into strips
Parsley flakes

Heat electric skillet to 300 degrees. Melt butter, and sauté chopped onion. Stir in mushroom soup, pepper and thyme. (Use more pepper and thyme if desired). Turn skillet down to 200 degrees. Place fish on top of mixture with skin side down. Cover with thin strips of green pepper. Put top on skillet with vent closed, and cook for 3 hours at 200 degrees. Sprinkle with paprika and parley flakes, and cook 5 minutes with lid off.