Editor’s Note: The weather’s cooling-down, gag grouper season has started, the blackfin and the yellowfin tuna are biting, the big bull reds are starting to show-up, amberjack season is still open, the big wahoo are biting, and the amberjack bite is good.

Offshore:

Captain Troy Frady of Distraction Charters (www.distractioncharters.com, 251-975-8111) docked at Orange Beach Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama, explains, “On a trolling trip in mid-September, we caught plenty of 8- to 15-pound king mackerel and Spanish mackerel that weighed up to 3-pounds each. On Saturday, we had a full-day trip, and we caught king mackerel and group

Orange Beach Charters

er. On the way out, we caught and released about 20 red snapper. We also caught three nice-sized gag grouper, but we lost one. The grouper weighed about 12- to 15-pounds each. Grouper season started this month and will last until November 15. We caught the grouper using bonita belly on circle hooks. To catch grouper, we generally use 5 to 6 feet of 60-pound-test monofilament leader, so the grouper can’t see the swivel and the head. At the end of the leader, opposite of the hook, we’ll tie-on a barrel swivel. Above the leader, we’ll have 6 to 8 ounces of lead, depending on the current.

“To catch the grouper, you’ll need to hold the rod at about a 45-degree angle from the water. When the grouper takes the bait, the fish usually will start moving back toward the hole where it lives. When you feel the grouper pulling on the line, gently lower the rod and don’t start winding on the grouper, until it pulls the rod all the way down to where the fish is pointing at the water. This gives the grouper time to swallow that long piece of bait. The bonita strip will be 8- to 10-inches long and 1/4-inch wide. While the grouper pulls-down the rod, it’s getting the entire bait in its mouth, as the line tightens and the circle hook positions itself in the corner of the fish’s mouth. So, when the grouper pulls the line, and the rod’s pointing toward the water, quickly engage the wheel, and wind fast to turn the grouper’s head from getting in the hole and get its head looking-up toward the surface. Once the line’s tightened, you’ll need only about 10 to 15 seconds to get that grouper’s head turned-up and away from that hole. Because grouper season has been closed all year, the grouper we’ll catch now are larger than the ones we’ve caught in the past. We should see bigger grouper coming to the dock this fall than we’ve seen in years. There’s plenty of time to come to Alabama’s Gulf Coast and catch some big gag grouper. Amberjack season is still open, and those amberjacks can weigh from 60- to 80-pounds each. The only season closed on our offshore fish right now is for the American red snapper.”

The Two-Day Offshore Trip:

Captain Johnny Greene (251-747-2872, www.fishorangebeach.com) of the “Intimidator” charter boat based at Orange Beach Marina in Orange Beach, Ala., went on a 2-day trip the second week of SeOrange Beach chartersptember. He reports that, “The yellowfin tuna and the blackfin tuna are really biting now as are the big wahoo also are biting right now. We caught one that weighed about 65 pounds and had two other wahoo that got away. We caught a 100-pound yellowfin tuna and some that weighed 30- to 50-pounds each. Our blackfin tuna weighed up to 18-pounds each. The triggerfish and the vermillion snapper bite also was good. The triggerfish we caught weighed about 7- to 8-pounds each, and the vermillion snapper weighed from 3- to 4-pounds each. The amberjacks bite was really-good offshore. Amberjacks can weigh up to 100 pounds, but most are in the 30- to 50-pound range. From now until the end of November, wahoo, tuna, amberjack and grouper will be our target fish offshore.”

Near-Shore Fishing:

Captain Dennis Treigle of FMF Charters, based out of Zeke’s Marina in Orange Beach, Ala., says that the redfish and the flounder are biting well in Perdido Pass under the bridge and around the jetties. “Most of our redfish are 16- to 26-inches long, and we’re catching good numbers of slot reds and some bull reds. You can keep three slot-sized reds per person – two that are 16- to 22-inches long and one that’s larger. My friends and I wore-out the flounder at the mouth of the Tensaw River using bull minnows. So, the flounder are still moving-out of the estuaries and into the Gulf of Mexico. We’re starting to catch one or two flounder on every trip, but the flounder bite won’t become really strong until the weather cools-down more. Also, as the weather cools-down, the big bull reds will start to show-up more often. So, we expect the fishing to be really good this weekend.”

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. 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. To have your fresh fish prepared at the beach, go to www.orangebeach.com, click on restaurants, and check box for “Will Cook Your Catch.”

Grouper Ingredients:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1-1/2-tablespoons Creole seasoning such as Tony Chachere Orange Beach charters
Pinch of cayenne pepper
6 (6-ounce) grouper fillets cleaned and towel-patted dry

Preparation:
Brush grouper fillets with vegetable oil. Mix together cayenne pepper and Creole seasoning; sprinkle on fish. Cook in skillet on medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes on each side until opaque.

Lemon Butter Sauce Ingredients:
1 whole peeled lemon
1/-4-cup white wine
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch of thyme
1 teaspoon chopped shallots
1/2-cup heavy whipping cream
1/2-pound unsalted butter at room temperature

Preparation:
Combine first five ingredients in medium-sized sauce pan, and heat on medium-high until mixture is reduced by half, stirring occasionally. Add whipping cream, stirring occasionally until reduced by half. Remove from heat, and stir in butter.

Lump Crabmeat Ingredients:
8 ounces lump crabmeat
1/4-cup white wine
3 green onions, chopped

Preparation:
Combine all ingredients, and heat on medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until warm. Pour lemon-butter sauce on plate, then place grouper fillet next, and top with lump crabmeat.

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