Offshore Fishing:

Editor’s Note: Captain Randy Boggs owns the “Reel Surprise” party boat out of SanRoc Cay in Orange Beach, Alabama. Fishermen can call the day before and reserve a spot to go fishing with Boggs, 3 days a week. His boats have been fishing throughout January and February and this week he has an unbelievable report.

Last week, we were 20-miles offshore, when my deckhand said, “Randy, look at the back deck. You’re not going to believe what our fishermen are catching.” As soon as I went out the back of the captain’s cabin, I saw a nice king mackerel being brought over the side of the “Reel Surprise.” Then when I looked around the deck, I saw seven more keeper-size king mackerel. We’ve never caught mackerel down here in February, except for 1 or 2 single mackerel. I thought we must have just sneaked-up on a crazy school of displaced mackerel. However, 2-days later, when we went out again, we caught nine king mackerel. Each day we’ve fished, for the last 2 weeks in February, we’ve been catching from five to nine king mackerel. Now, as strange as this may seem, you’ve got to know that we’re a bottom fishing party boat. Our anglers are rigging-up with cut bait and heavy weights and fishing on the bottom for reef fish. Apparently, the king mackerel are attacking the baits as they fall from the surface to the bottom, or they’re taking the baits just off the bottom. But, king mackerel aren’t all we’re catching right now. We’re catching a good grade of vermilion snapper that will weigh from 3/4-pounds to 2-pounds, good numbers of triggerfish and white snapper from 1 to 1-1/2-pounds. The Reel Surprise is running 3 days a week, and everyone’s going home with a good mess of fish to eat.

For more information, contact Reel Surprise Charters at 251-981-7173, email info@reelsurprisecharters.com, or visit www.reelsurprisecharters.com.

Intercoastal Canal:

Editor’s Note: Captain Gary Davis of Foley, Ala., primarily fishes Mobile Bay and the coastal rivers that feed Mobile Bay all year long, for speckled fish, redfish, flounder and sheepshead. However, because of all the rain that Alabama has received in the last couple of weeks, the coastal rivers and the bay have been muddy. So, Davis went to his favorite place to fish when he can’t fish anywhere else, and hit a home run.

I went out one day last week on a scouting trip, and I only caught one redfish in the rivers, because the rivers were so muddy. I had a party to take fishing the next day, so I went to my favorite place to fish when I can’t fish anywhere else – the Intercoastal Canal. We caught a good mess of sheepshead and redfish. My party had a great time and took home plenty of fish to eat. We fished live shrimp and free-lined them along the rocks and holes in the canal and kept bent rods almost all day long. That’s one big advantage we have here on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. When the rivers, the bays and the Gulf of Mexico are muddy, or when the weather’s too bad to fish anywhere else, we can always go to the Canal and catch a mess of fish. I talked to a friend of mine, who is fishing on the front beaches at Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, and he says he’s catching plenty of whiting and pompano, keeping his feet dry and casting-out into the surf. So, apparently that front-beach surf fishing is really heating-up. We should really start getting a load of sheepshead moving-in by the first of March, and fishing should continue to get better and better.

To learn more about inshore fishing with Captain Gary Davis, call 251-942-6298 or email him at tidewaterfishing@live.com.

The Bridge and Perdido Pass

Editor’s Note: Captain Rick Murdoch, decided to move his fishing business from Fort Morgan, Ala., to Orange Beach, and the move has worked-out well for him.

I’ve had 10 trips during February, and the fishing has been fantastic. We’re fishing the Perdido Pass and the jetties and rocks on either side of the pass, as well as the bridge pilings under the bridge. This past week I had a trip where in 4 hours, we caught 10 sheepshead that weighed 3 to 8 pounds and four redfish that weighed from 8 to 15 pounds and one flounder. We’re also catching a lot of bluefish that we release. We’ve been catching all these fish on live shrimp and live fiddler crabs. Our fishing hadn’t slowed-down any this winter, and every one of our parties have gone home with a good mess of fish. We catch fish all winter long here at Orange beach, and we catch some good ones. As the weather begins to warm, the fishing will get better and better. When Spring Break arrives in just a few weeks, most of us will start running two trips a day. So, y’all come on down, and let’s go fishing. Let me change that - let’s go catching. The fish are biting, and there’s plenty of them.

To contact Captain Rick Murdoch, call 251-424-0144 or visit his website www.alabamagirlfishing.com/.

The Orange Beach Fishing Association (www.orangebeachfishingassociation.com/home.aspx) 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. To have your fresh fish prepared at the beach, go to www.alabamasnaturalcoast.net, click on restaurants, and check box for “Will Cook Your Catch.”

Parmesan-Crusted Redfish Fillets

Ingredients:
1/4-cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4-cup ranch dressing
1/3-cup panko-style bread crumbs
1/4-teaspoon garlic salt
1/3-cup shredded parmesan
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4-cup grated parmesan cheese
4 redfish fillets
2 tablespoons canola oil
1-cup shredded provolone cheese

Preparation:
Prepare Ranch Spread: Combine 1/4-cup of grated Parmesan and ranch dressing in a mixing bowl. Mix well and set aside. Note: This Ranch Spread can be made a day ahead, and refrigerated until needed.
Prepare Parmesan Crumb Topping: Combine panko bread crumbs, 1/4-teaspoon garlic salt, shredded Parmesan, melted butter and remaining grated Parmesan in a mixing bowl. Mix well until breadcrumbs are evenly moistened by the butter. Set aside.
Final Cooking: Position a rack in the center of the oven. Turn the oven to broiler, and preheat.
Sprinkle both sides of fillets lightly with remaining garlic salt; then place in large skillet and cook 6 to 7 minutes on each side. Fillets should be golden brown on the bottom but not burnt. If fillets begin to burn, reduce heat slightly. Flip fillets over, and cook for another 6 or 7 minutes or until fillets are cooked all the way through and both sides are evenly browned. Transfer fillets to an oven-safe casserole dish. Spread 2 tablespoons of ranch spread evenly over fillets: then top with shredded Provolone and Parmesan crumb topping. Place fillets under broiler and cook until cheese is melted, and crumb topping begins to turn light-brown. This dish is best served bubbling hot right out of the broiler.