Editor’s Note: Grouper season is in now and plenty of hard-fighting, delicious-eating, photo-taking grouper are available to be caught offshore Alabama’s Gulf Coast. There’s also numbers of inshore and near-shore fish to be caught. This week Captain Don McPherson of the “Getaway” and “Another Getaway” docked at Zeke’s Marina will tell us what you can expect to catch offshore on Alabama’s Gulf Coast during late July and August.

Although red snapper season is closed, we still can catch, photograph and release big red snapper, most of which weigh 8 to 20 pounds. Because we catch them near the surface, they can be released without harming the fish. Near shore we’re still taking plenty of Spanish mackerel that will weigh 2- to 5-pounds each and king mackerel from 12 to 20 pounds. Too, we’re taking a few jack crevalles, which I call our new near-shore sportfish. Jack crevalles, another catch-and-release fish, fight hard and may weigh up to 20 pounds. Jack crevalles always give our anglers really-good fights. On the 6- and the 8-hour trips, we’re seeing good catches of vermilion snapper and white snapper. While fishing for vermilion and white snapper, we’ll put-out drift lines baited with cigar minnows and frequently catch king macOrange Beach fishingkerel weighing 15- to 20-pounds plus. Too, we’re starting to see quite a few dolphins (Mahi-Mahi) along the grass lines as close as 5-miles from shore, as well as catching the bigger dolphins further out.

On our longer trips of 10 and 12 hours, we’re catching some nice gag grouper and caught one most recently that weighed about 30 pounds. We’re catching quite a few that weigh 12 to 15 pounds and nice-sized scamp grouper on the longer trips. Another option that we have on the 12-hour trip is deep-drop fishing. We had a trip last week with only two people on board and caught 6 nice snowy grouper, with the largest weighing about 30 pounds. We also took some really-nice tilefish and longtail sea bass. These deep-water fish that live down in the very-cold 500- to 1,000-foot deep water are delicious to eat. To catch these fish, we use power-assisted reels produced by Daiwa that allow you to either wind the fish up or the reel to wind them up for you. These new, lighter reels are much quieter than the old reels we once used. Deep-water grouper fishing has been really, really good. I know getting out to these places to fish is a long way to go and requires a long time to get there, but the payoff will be worth the trip. Not only do we catch gag grouper, scamp grouper and red grouper on the way out to where we deep-drop, we can catch the snowy grouper, tilefish and longtail sea bass once there, as well as a good variety of other fish. Sometimes we have to use our fish-identification book to identify some of the other fish we’re catching.

When we’re deep-dropping, we use whole squid, cut bait and whole cigar minnows. We’ve also found that slabs of bonito are productive baits for these deep-water grouper, since they seem to prefer bait with a strong scent to it. Another advantage of the 12-hour-fishing trip is on the way out and on Orange Beach fishingthe way back, we troll through some great waters for catching wahoos and big king mackerel. Both these fish will eat high-speed trolling baits that we put out behind the boat while we’re making one of those long runs. We can take up to 6 people on our boats a 12-hour trip, which is about $350 per man. We usually leave about 6:00 am and are back about 6:00 pm. We are starting to slowly see more people opt for the longer trips, especially, if they’re coming down to catch fish for their freezers. We started fishing for the deep-water grouper about 4-years ago and have seen the demand for this trip steadily increasing. We’re still running quite a few 4-hour trolling trips and are seeing 5-hour trips starting to grow in popularity where you can troll for Spanish and king mackerel, and catch and release a few red snapper. But, to catch fish to take home, most people are choosing the 8, 10 and/or 12 hour trips.”

Contact Don McPherson at 251-981-8047, or go to his website at 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 or www.alabamasnaturalcoast.net.

Greek Style Grouper

You can catch grouper until the end of October on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, and this delicious recipe will allow you to enjoy the grouper you catch.

1 to 1-1/2-pounds grouper fillets Orange Beach charters
1/2-cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2-cup butter, melted
Seasoned salt, to taste
Cavender’s Greek seasoning to taste
1 onion, chopped
6 Roma tomatoes, sliced or chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. You will need a baking pan with a drip pan or a slightly-elevated rack. Cut the fish into serving-size pieces. Mix the lemon juice and the melted butter. Dip each piece of fish into the lemon butter, and salt both sides with the seasoned salt. Place in the baking pan, and season generously with Cavender’s. Cover the fish with the onions and tomatoes. Saute the onions first if you prefer. Season the vegetables with more Cavender’s. Drizzle the remaining lemon butter over the top. Bake for about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it, since the thickness of the fish will determine the time needed to cook through, and serve hot with rice or pasta and a green salad.