Editor’s Note: In September, the water has cleared-up at the Gulf of Mexico, the wind has started to lay, and the inshore and offshore fishing have been fantastic. Captain Johnny Greene of the charter boat “Intimidator,” based at Orange Beach Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama, just came in from a 2-day trip offshore when “What’s Biting” interviewed him. David Thornton, the eyes and ears of the Gulf State Park Pier in Gulf Shores, Ala., is so excited about what’s happening on the pier that he just had to tell somebody.

Offshore Fishing with Captain Johnny Greene:

I had a party from Atlanta book a 2-day trip here in September, and we really hit a homerun. We started catching live bait first thing in the morning. As we were traveling out, we cooked breakfast on the Big Green Egg, including sausage, bacon, biscuits and eggs. Our first stop produced a great catch of vermilion snapper and white snapper. At our next stop, we caught some really-nice gag grouper, scamp and amberjacks. Our scamp weighed from 3 pounds up to 23 pounds. We had a couple of gag grouper that would weigh more than 40-pounds each and a couple of 10-pound red grouper. We were fishing all-natural bottom, so we picked the amberjacks up in the same places where we were catchingOrange Beach fishing the scamp. After we made a good catch of grouper, we headed further south, moved further offshore and put-out high-speed trolling lures for wahoo. We had two big wahoo bites. Unfortunately, we lost both of those.

Once we got out to the 700- and 800-foot-deep bottom, we started catching some giant snowy groupers, several in the 50-pound class, and some yellowedge grouper in the 30-pound class. We used three-hook rigs when we were fishing that deep. Some of our anglers were catching two yellowedge grouper at the same time. Many times, when we caught fish in that 700- to 800-foot-deep water, the grouper would pop-up on the surface, before the anglers could reel in all their lines, using electric lines. By then, nighttime had arrived. We continued to move further offshore, started jigging for tuna and caught quite a few blackfin tuna but no yellowfin tuna. The next morning before daylight, we moved to another offshore oil rig and caught one 75-pound yellowfin tuna.

Something that really has changed on our offshore trips is in the past, customers would bring their own food to be cooked on the Big Green Egg. But recently, many of our customers have asked us to get the food and cook it for them. So, on a 2-day trip we usually have breakfast, a pulled-pork sandwich for lunch (we let our Boston butts slow-cook all day from the time we leave the dock until about Orange Beach chartersnoon) and then steak, baked potatoes and salad for dinner. I don’t know which the customers like the best, the fishing or the eating. But, we have plenty of hot food all day and all night.

Our tuna fishing will hold up until the second week in December and should get better and better as the weather cools-down. The seasons for deep-water grouper (snowy grouper, yellowedge grouper and tile fish) are open year-round. Gag grouper season closes October 31, but we’ve got plenty of great fishing throughout the year.

To fish with Captain Johnny Greene, call 251-747-2872 or go to www.fishorangebeach.com or www.gulfshoresdeepseafishing.com.

Pier Report and Other Beach Fishing Spots with David Thornton:

The kings are back. We had one day this past week when 30 king mackerel came over the rail of the pier, and most weighed 15-18 pounds. We also saw some kings that weighed over 20 pounds that were caught. The slot redfish (the ones you can keep) are biting really good right now, and there’s plenty of bluefish. The Spanish mackerel on the pier haven’t been as abOrange Beach fishingundant as they were a few weeks ago, however they’re weighing 2-4 pounds, and some are even bigger. We’re catching quite a few cobia that we have to release, and only one keeper cobia was caught on the pier last week, but we’re expecting the bigger cobia to move-in at any time. We’re catching quite a few small flounder also. Speckled trout up to 4 pounds are being caught on live bait as well as a few bull reds.

We’ve got reports that the bull reds have moved onto Dixey Bar, toward the mouth of Mobile Bay at Fort Morgan. We know from past years that when those giant 20- to 30-pound bull reds start stacking-up at Fort Morgan, they’ll start coming inshore. Eventually we’ll catch them at the pier. The whiting are being caught in the surf. I took a party of fishermen down to West Pass last week, and we caught some good whiting and flounder on the Gulf side of the pass. The real secret to fishing West Pass is to know where and when to fish according to the tide. When the tide is going out, the fish will start coming out of Little Lagoon, and fish also will begin coming out of the Gulf of Mexico to feed on the Gulf side of West Pass. When the tide’s coming-in, we fish the Little Lagoon side of the pass, because the fish there will stage at the mouth of the pass to eat the baitfish. Like the pier, Little Lagoon fishing will continue to get better from the beach and from the passes as the weather cools-down, and the water keeps clearing.

For more information on fishing the Gulf State Park Pier, call David Thornton at 251-458-2775, e-mail him at pierpounder@alabamasnaturalcoast.net, or go to his webpage at www.orangebeachsurffishing.com.

For more information about Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, visit www.orangebeach.com/fishing, a fishing hub with marina and charter captain listings. For any questions, call Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism’s vacation planning specialists at 1-800-745-SAND (7263). For a list of cook-your-catch restaurants, go to www.orangebeach.com/dining-nightlife/restaurants.

xxx