Editor’s Note: Randy Boggs is the captain of the “Reel Surprise” charter boat, based out of SanRoc Cay Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama.

As the water has warmed-up, we’ve seen an increase in bait fish moving closer to shore, which causes the king mackerel and Spanish mackerel fishing to really heat-up. We’re seeing nice catches of king mackerel close to the beach that weigh 5- to 15-pounds each and numbers of Spanish mackerel being caught, that weigh 3/4- to 2-pounds Orange Beach charterseach. Some 4- to 5-pound Spanish mackerel also have been caught. The mackerel are a very-important part of the near-shore fishery here at Orange Beach.

Too, offshore fishing is producing with a large number of nice, big red snapper being caught, photographed and released. At this time of the year, the snapper are moving-up higher in the water column, which means we have very-few problems releasing these fish and seeing them return to where they’ve been concentrating. Many of these red snapper weigh 15- to 20-pounds each and are good-looking fish for pictures. Last week, we had a young man catch an 18-1/2-pound red snapper on the last spot we fished before coming into the dock, and he got some beautiful pictures of this fish.

We’re seeing many people really-enjoying catching and releasing their fish - usually keeping enough to eat for dinner. Many of our customers are tourists who may fish with us in the middles of their vacations, and they don’t have a way to store and keep a lot of fish. But, they want pictures with big fish. This catch-and-release red snapper program is exciting for many anglers, who generally catch enough white snapper and vermilion snapper to take to a restaurant after the trip and enjoy an outstanding fish dinner there where the restaurants will cook their catches.

Here at the first of August we’re having some good catches of triggerfish, but they’re also catch-and-release. On one 6-hour trip last week, we caught and released 180 triggerfish. The weather’s really been calm down here, and the water’s slick. Even thOrange Beach fishingough we’ve had some pretty-warm days, our fishermen seem to enjoy coming inside the boat to the air conditioning and getting a snack and cold drink before heading back out to the deck to catch fish. Although, the 4-hour walk-up trip seemed to be the most-popular at the first of the summer, we’re now seeing more and more fishermen opt for the 8-hour trip, where they not only get to fish longer and catch more, but they often get to see dolphins and sea turtles too. For the 10- to 12-hour trips, the grouper fishing really has been great. We’re seeing lots of scamp grouper and some nice gag grouper being caught. Also, on those longer trips, we’re seeing king mackerel being caught that run 20- to 50-pounds each. Amberjack season opened August 1, and we’re catching some keeper-size amberjacks on our walk-up trips (4- to 6-hours long) as well as on our 10- and 12-hour trips. Right before amberjack season closed for June and July, we caught a 72-pound amberjack. I believe that 60-pound amberjacks will be caught regularly this year on the 10- and 12-hour trips. The average amberjack caught offshore will weigh 30 to 40 pounds.

We’re starting to offer some 8-hour walk-up trips for $90, but the majority of our customers still seem to prefer the 6-hour trip. We leave at 8:00 am and return to the dock at 2:00 pm. The 8-hour trip leaves at 7:00 am and returns to the dock at 3:00 pm. We’ve found that most of our customers prefer to sleep a little later and get back earlier, and that’s why they opt for the 6-hour trip.

To contact Captain Randy Boggs, call him at 251-981-7173, or visit www.reelsurprisecharters.com. For more information about fishing guides and charter boats, lodging accommodations, restaurants and entertainment on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, call 800-745-SAND (7263), or visit www.orangebeach.com or www.orangebeachfishingassociation.com. To have your fresh fish prepared at the beach, go to www.alabamasnaturalcoast.net, click on restaurants, and check the box for “Will Cook Your Catch.”

Grilled Amberjack

This recipe is from “Taste of Home” magazine, one of our favorites.

1/3-cup lemon juice
1/3-cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2-teaspoon salt
3 cloves pressed garlic
4 amberjack fillets (4-ounces each)
Cracked pepper and salt to taste

In a shallow bowl or large resalable plastic bag, combine first six ingredients. Add fish to bag, and allow to marinate for 30 minutes, turning occasionally. In the meantime, prepare grill for medium heat, approximately 300-350 degrees. Remove fish from bag, and discard marinade. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Place fish on grill rack, and cook 6 minutes on each side, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Serves 4.