Editor’s Note: Captain Brent “Hollywood” Shaver, of the charter boat “Captain Bligh,” based at Zeke’s Marina in Orange Beach, fishes both inshore and near-shore. Captain Kathy Broughton of Kitty Wake Charters at Zeke’s Marina fished this past week with her 11-year old grandson, William Getty, at the Perdido Pass Bridge. Captain Don McPherson is the captain of “Another Getaway” charter boat, also based at Zeke’s.

Inshore

Brent Shaver: Fishing is picking-up here on Alabama’s Gulf Coast in early March, and the sheepshead are biting everywhere. Also fishermen are catching quite a few pompano. The sheepshead are in a pre-spawn mode, and on an incoming tide, they bite heavily. I mainly fish the jetties at Perdido Pass, but the sheepshead also are on the piers and everywhere you find structure. Many of these sheepshead will weigh 4-5 pounds. and you can cut a good-sized fillet off a sheepshead that big. As soon as the weather calms-down, I’m sure we’ll start catching the pompano at the jetties. But, for right now, they’re mainly in the surf. Most of the pompanos are being caught on sand fleas and small live shrimp. Fiddler crabs have proven to be the best bait for the sheepshead. Mo Fishin, located just above Zeke’s Marina next to the Shrimp Basket restaurant, is one place I know of where you can get sand fleas. I don’t know if any of the other bait shops have them.

Too, in those same places, we’re still catching redfish – both under-sized and keeper-sized - while we’re fishing for sheepshead. In March, I don’t even fish for the speckled trout or the flounder, because they’re hit-and-miss species. When I take a party fishing, I want them to be able to catch something, and redfish and sheepshead are our most-productive catches at the first of March. Spanish mackerel haven’t shown-up yet, but we had a great run of Spanish mackerel during the fall. To catch the sheepshead and the redfish, I’ll put a 3/4-ounce sinker up the line and a barrel swivel below and use 25-pound-test monofilament leader and either a No. 2 or No. 4 Kale hook. I really like the No. 4 hook because it’s smaller and easier for the sheepshead to take. Right now our sheepshead and redfish are biting really good.

As the weather warms-up, we’ll start catching more pompano, more speckled trout and more redfish. Also don’t forget the cobia run that will start in March and end in May. Three or four of our inshore boats have towers, and we sight-fish for cobia when they start coming-down the beach. They’ll be migrating from east to west in the Gulf of Mexico. Our best cobia fishing usually takes place with a southeast wind, because then the cobia will come to the surface and ride the wind, which helps them move west with less effort. But, we fish for cobia in March, even when the weather or the wind aren’t right. You never know when the cobia will show-up.

You can see the “Captain Bligh” on the Orange Beach Fishing Association (OBFA) site with more information about the boat and Shaver’s fishing, or call Shaver at (251) 747-0220, or email him at captainbligh12@alabamasnaturalcoast.net.

Captain Kathy Broughton: The end of February and the first part of March, as soon as my grandson and I dropped our baits (live shrimp) down behind the pilings on the Perdido Pass Bridge, we started catching redfish, sheepshead and bluefish on almost every cast. In about an hour or two of fishing, William caught two or three redfish and four or five sheepshead every morning in about 2 hours.

Call Captain Kathy Broughton at (251) 747-7375, or email her at kittywakecharters@yahoo.com.

Offshore

Captain Don McPherson: We had a couple of 6-hour charters this past week and caught and released some very-nice red snapper that weighed from 8-18 pounds. Most of them weighed 8- to 10-pounds each, and we moved to try and get away from those red snapper, so we could catch white snapper, vermilion snapper and triggerfish. Our biggest triggerfish was about 6 or 7 pounds, and our vermilion and white snapper weighed about 2-3 pounds. We had reports from another boat that spotted Spanish mackerel feeding on the surface. Actually as mild as the winter has been here, and as warm as the water in our section of the Gulf of Mexico is right now, I expect to see Spanish mackerel showing-up any day. Too, we’re hoping that the cobia will show-up earlier this year.

One thing I know for sure, we’ve got plenty of red snapper off Alabama’s Gulf Coast for us to start catching and keeping this June when the season starts. Just about anywhere you want to drop a hook, you’ll catch red snapper, which everyone enjoys, even if they have to release the fish. We use light tackle to make the snapper fishing more fun, and we chum the snapper up. We can get those red snapper to come to the surface, especially in shallow water. Then we can catch and release them, and they’ll recover much quicker than when you pull them up from the bottom. We don’t target the red snapper in the springtime for catch and release, unless we’re chumming and can get the fish to come high-up in the water. When we chum in March, we’ll often see big red snapper weighing more than 20 pounds. If you catch one of those big fish, land it, get your picture made with the red snapper and release it, you’ll have the fishing trip of a lifetime. Usually, we have to go 20-miles out or more to see the big red snapper, but right now at the first part of March, we’re chumming them up within 10- to 12-miles from Orange Beach.

Contact Captain Don McPherson at (251) 981-8047, or go to www.getawaygulffishing.com to learn more. 

The Orange Beach Fishing Association 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.”