Offshore Report:

Editor’s Note: The world is changing rapidly for the better. Although king mackerel can be caught throughout most of the year on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, there’s been an unusually-large number of king mackerel caught 20-miles offshore on a natural bottom, known as the Trysler Grounds, this spring. That’s where the new Alabama State RecordOrange Beach fishing King Mackerel was caught this past week. Captain Billy Neff of the charter boat “Fish Trap,” based at Zeke’s Landing Marina in Orange Beach, Ala., tells the story of this phenomenal catch.

On March 28, 2012, I had a party of six anglers, who were scheduled to go on a 6-hour bottom-fishing trip to the Trysler Grounds. We fished at 120 feet and caught good numbers of vermilion snapper, white snapper, lane snapper and triggerfish. While bottom fishing, we put drift lines out on the back of the boat for king mackerel, using 30-pound-test line with 25-pound-test wire leader and a live pinfish for bait. During our day of fishing, we caught four king mackerel, including the new State Record, and one blackfin tuna that weighed 14.9 pounds. Catching blackfin tuna was unusual for the time of the year and at a spot so close to shore. We had two other blackfins come to the boat that we couldn’t catch.

When the new Alabama State Record King Mackerel took the bait, 8-year old Andrew Quinn of Michigan started fighting the fish, as the big fish dove for the bottom and stayed there for about 15 minutes. We assumed that Andrew had hooked-up to a shark. This fish didn’t take-off on a long run like most king mackerel would; it just remained right under the boat, sitting on the bottom, like a shark would. Finally, Andrew was able to break the mackerel away from the bottom. When we saw the fish, we couldn’t believe how big it was. We brought the king mackerel on-board, however, we didn’t know what the official state record was for king mackerel. From the tip of the nose to the fork of the tail, the fish was 59-inches long, weighed 68.3 pounds and had a 28-inch girth.

Once we arrived at the marina, we called the Alabama Marine Resources Division, and the biologists brought their own scales and tape measures with them to officially measure the mackerel. After they measured the fish and weighed it, they sent the paper work to Dauphin Island to have this mackerel officially certified as the new Alabama State Record. The previous state record was held by Michael Kirchler of Mobile Ala., and weighed 67 pounds, 15 ounces, and was caught on April 9, 2002. I’m not really sure that Andrew Quinn really knew or understood how important the king mackerel he caught was or what a monumental feat he’d accomplished. As you can see in the picture, the king mackerel was bigger than Andrew. March 28, 2012 was one of the best days of fishing I’ve ever had, and one I’ll remember for a long, long time.

To fish with Captain Billy Neff, you can go to www.fishtrapcharters.biz or www.zekeslanding.com, or call, 251-981-4044.

Inshore Report:


Captain David Brown of Brown’s Inshore says, “The last week in March, we began to transition from primarily fishing for sheepshead inshore to targeting speckled trout, redfish and pompano. The speckled trout are weighing 2 to 3 pounds, and we’re catching them on live shrimp, MirrOlure 52MS, FinS Chartreuse Ice or Berkley’s Power Shrimp, in the new penny color. Right now, we’re averaging between 1Orange Beach charters5 and 20 trout a day that are holding on docks, structures in the Intracoastal Canal and along the jetties at Alabama Point. In the next few weeks, the trout will start moving into the grass beds.

“We’re also catching slot redfish in the 2- to 12-pound range on live shrimp, about 5 to 10 on a 4-hour trip. Too, the flounder are starting to move-in now. The sheepshead are still biting good, and we’re catching them at Perdido Pass around the jetties and under the bridge. We use a No. 1 hook with a 1/2-ounce weight up the line, and either a whole, live shrimp or a fiddler crab. The sheepshead are 2- to 3-pounds each in size, with an occasional 4 to 5 pounder. On an average 4-hour trip with two people, we’ll generally come-in with 30 fish.”

Contact Captain David Brown, who fishes both mornings and afternoons, at (251) 981-6246 or at (251) 942-4037, or visit www.brownsinshore.com.

Pier Report:

David Thornton, an avid, daily pier fisherman, says, “Fishing on the pier has really started to blossom, the water has cleared-up, and the fishing has really busted-loose. The sheepshead bite is still going strong, the Spanish mackerel bite is continuing to get stronger, and we’re seeing some larger-sized Spanish mackerel being caught. The bigger Spanish usually don’t show-up until the end of April and will weigh 3 to 4 pounds. I’ve been really surprised by the number of king mackerel being caught on the pier right now – seven in one day recently – and at least two or three king mackerel caught every day. Some of those king mackerel have weighed-in the mid- to upper-20-pound range, with the average being about 15 to 18 pounds. Most of them areOrange Beach fishing being caught on frozen cigar minnows, as well as live LYs (alewives), Spanish sardines and threadfin herring.

“We’ve been seeing some speckled trout, although they haven’t moved-in strong yet, which should happen after Easter. The water cleared-up very quickly this week, and we’ve seen two or three cobia each day. This March has been the best fishing we’ve ever had at that time of year at the Gulf State Park Pier in Gulf Shores.”

To learn more about the Gulf State Park Pier, call 251-967-FISH (3474). For more information on fishing guides and charter boats, lodging accommodations, restaurants and entertainment on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, call Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism at 800-745-SAND (7263), or visit www.orangebeach.com.

Orange-Glazed Flounder

This simple-to-prepare dish is a favorite of Gulf Coast families and also is delicious made with any fish with firm white meat.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon brown sugar
4 flounder fillets (6-ounces each), skin removed
1/2-cup orange marmalade
1/4-cup lime juice

Preparation:
Combine Cajun seasoning and brown sugar, and rub over fillets. In a large, non-stick skillet or on a non-stick griddle coated with cooking spray, cook fillets over medium heat for 3 – 4 minutes on each side, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Add combined marmalade and lime juice to the skillet, and heat through. Serves 4.