Editor’s Note: Captain Peter Fill of the charter boat, “Yankee Star,” based out of Outcast Marina in Gulf Shores, Alabama, set the new state record for black grouper this past year. This month, Fill will tell us where he finds and catches fish offshore in July.

Question: Peter, how long have you fished at Orange Beach?
Fill: I’ve fished here for 20 years.

Question: What fishing conditions can we expect in July?
Fill:
If we don’t have a hurricane, the fishing should be fantastic.

Question: Do you go far offshore or fish in close?
Fill:
I fish as close as I can to catch the fish my customers want to catch. Last year, before gas prices were so expensive, we could run to the deep water and have productive catches. Now we fish more 6- to 8-hour trips and still catch numbers of fish closer to shore. I run 10- to 12-hour trips as well, but the majority of our trips run 6 to 8 hours.

Question: How long does getting the two-red-snapper-per-person limit take?
Fill: That depends on the fishermen and their skill levels. With some fishermen, we get everyone’s limit within 10 minutes. With other fishermen, we may spend 1 hour catching the limit. There are plenty of big red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico right now.

Question: What’s the average size red snapper you’re catching right now?
Fill: Our average snapper weighs from 6 to 8 pounds with an occasional 10 to 14 pounder being caught. We try to stay away from the smaller snapper that we have to catch and release.

Question: What type of bait do you use in July?
Fill: Primarily we use live cigar minnows, and we do a lot of light-tackle fishing.

Question: After you catch your two red-snapper limit, what fish do you target?
Fill: We’ll often try to catch black snapper. Around our region are natural bottoms with rocks on them, which home numbers of black snapper.

Question: How big are the black snapper you’re catching?
Fill: The black snapper weigh from 2- to 12-pounds each. These are great snapper, and we usually can catch nice-sized ones. Some days we may not catch any black snapper, and on other days, we may catch four to six black snapper. The number of black snapper we catch depends on the weather and the water conditions and the skills of the anglers.

Question: During a 6-hour trip, after you catch your limit of red snapper and four or five black snapper, what will you target next?
Fill:
We’ll target king mackerel. We usually troll spoons with planers or sea witches. We often catch 8, 10 and 12 pounders. During an 8-hour trip, after we’ve tried to catch black snapper, we’ll often try to catch grouper. Sometimes we’ll catch beeliners (vermillion snapper) and/or white snapper instead. The white snapper and the beeliners generally prefer natural bottom, so we’ll search for places to target those fish. We’re fortunate at Orange Beach because not only do we have plenty of reefs to fish, we also have numbers of close-in reefs as well as offshore reefs. We always can find a pretty-good catch of fish in July.

Right now, there are plenty of boats and captains available for charter. But if you’re coming to the Orange Beach area this month, book your trip early. The middle of the week is always the best time to charter a boat because there’s less fishing pressure then, and a captain usually can work more spots. Some boats run double-down trips, taking a party out for 6 hours in the morning and another party out for 6 hours in the afternoon. So, if you’re unable to book a morning trip, don’t overlook afternoon trips. Since fish don’t carry pocket watches, they don’t know the time of day. When you put baits down in front of them and they’re hungry, they’ll eat it. Fishing at the Gulf Coast is great right now. Plan a trip this month, and come fish with us!

To have a great day of fishing and catch a wide variety of fish, you can reach Captain Fill at Marina Charters at (251) 981-4510, or email him at dodo@gulftel.com, or visit his website at www.yankeestar.com, where you’ll see photos of his fishermen and their catches.