Editor’s Note: Captain Maurice Fitzsimmons, the captain of the “Miss Celeste,” based at Zeke’s Landing Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama, is an offshore fisherman.








January’s a great month to take a charter and fish for redfish. We’re catching and releasing a tremendous number of redfish this month. You can catch 20- to 30-pound redfish on just about any bait you put in the water. Triggerfish and vermillion snapper (beeliners), which are both delicious to eat, have also really been biting well. During this month, we’re still catching and releasing large numbers of big red snapper.

The big news here at the Gulf Coast is that red snapper season has changed. It doesn’t open until June 1st and closes September 30th, so our Red Snapper World Championship (RSWC) held in Orange Beach that had run for the first 30 days of snapper season now will be held during the fall in September. However, during the spring, we’ll have a salt-water series tournament with 11-different species of fish, including tuna,  wahoo, triggerfish, vermillion snapper, grouper, amberjack, king mackerel, speckled trout, redfish and several other species of fish, whether you fish inshore or offshore.

The Spring Saltwater Series, which will run from April 4 to May 26, will award $150,000 in cash and prizes to the winners. The speckled trout tournament will have a three-fish aggregate, and if you’re one of the lucky winners of this tournament, you’ll qualify for the Fall Shoot-off, a really-big tournament with a lot of cash and prizes.

The RSWC this year will run from August 22 until September 30 and award $35,000 in cash for the winning angler and the same amount of money to the boat captain, based on entry fees. So, this year, instead of having only one big tournament with only one or two fish that can be caught for prize money, we’ll have two tournaments – the first tournament in the spring and the Red Snapper World Championship in the fall.

In March, we expect to see our cobia turning-up, depending on the weather. Generally a lot of local tournaments related to cobia are held during this month. Every day, fishermen from Orange Beach and Dauphin Island will be running the beach looking for cobia.

The good news about our tournaments this year is you either can fish in the tournament off a charter boat, or you can fish both tournaments in your own private boat. Tickets for the tournaments will be available at various locations in Baldwin and Mobile counties, particularly on Dauphin Island and at Orange Beach and Gulf Shores. A $10 daily ticket qualifies you to compete in all 11 categories for the prizes and the money in the Spring Saltwater Series.

The RSWC in the fall only will cost $10 for a daily ticket, as it has in the past. In the spring tournament, almost any fish that bites your hook is a potential prize winner. I suggest booking early, if you plan to charter fish in either or both tournaments.

To book the “Miss Celeste,” and fish with Captain Fitzsimmons, call him at (251) 209-9166 or (251) 626-9437, or go to his webpage at www.missceleste.com to find prices and schedules.