Editor’s Note: Captain Ricky McDuffie of the “Sea Hunter,” docked at SanRoc Cay Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama, has fished out of Orange Beach for 30 years.

Question: Ricky, why is September such a productive month to fish out of Orange Beach?
McDuffie: We’ve got some really-big fish in the region that can be caught this month. At this time of year, the giant king mackerel will come in weighing from 35- to 45-pounds each. Too, this is a great month for swordfish. The swordfish in our area have really made a comeback. On our 2-day trips, we usually drop fish for swordfish at night. Most people don’t know that we’ve got a great swordfish fishery here in this region. During the 1970s here, area fishermen caught quite a few swordfish. But then when the commercial long-line fishermen discovered the abundance of swordfish, they almost wiped-out the population. Fortunately, the federal government restricted the catching of swordfish, allowing the swordfish population to rebound tremendously.

Right now, you have a better chance of catching swordfish at night than any other species of fish. Your odds are much better for catching a swordfish at night than they are trolling for marlin or sailfish during the day. Our swordfish weigh on average from 30- to about 200-pounds each. To keep a swordfish, it must weigh about 50 pounds. Swordfish are delicious to eat and a lot of fun to catch.

Question:  How deep is the water you’re fishing when you fish for swordfish?
McDuffie: The bottom will be around 1400- to 1500-feet deep. We bait with squid and use a Cyalume light stick to illuminate the bay and attract the live squid. The swordfish will chase the live squid and then hopefully take our dead squid bait.

Question: What’s the best night of swordfishing you’ve ever had?
McDuffie: We’ve caught five or six swordfish in one night. On one night, we caught three keepers that weighed a total of over 300 pounds.

Question: How deep do you run your baits?
McDuffie: We generally put our baits down from 100- to 300-feet deep. Our clients really like catching swordfish because they fight so hard. Too, the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) ranks the swordfish as the highest achievement an angler can attain, if he catches it on a hook and line. Last year, Orange Beach didn’t have any swordfish, but now there are plenty concentrated in our area. If someone is willing to fish for swordfish all night long, he or she will have a good chance of catching two or three swordfish in one night. We often catch swordfish when we’re fishing in areas that usually produce swordfish. Many of our fishermen on overnight trips prefer to go to the places where we normally catch tuna than the spots where we usually catch swordfish. We sometimes catch swordfish in the tuna sections, but not nearly as many as we’ll catch if we fish the regions that hold the most swordfish.

Question: What other fish do you catch out there in the blue water during September?
McDuffie: We still have plenty of dolphin (mahi mahi) and wahoo.

Question: Where do you find wahoo, and how do you catch them?
McDuffie: September and October are great months for wahoo fishing. We catch the wahoo on our trolling lines when we’re reef fishing for grouper, scamp, amberjack and triggerfish. We generally catch a few wahoo every day when we’re reef fishing, but when we fish offshore around the deep-water rigs, we’ll catch even more wahoo. Too, when we go out to the rigs, we have a chance to catch blue marlin or sailfish. We still have a lot of anglers who come out in the fall to fish for tuna. We catch quite a few yellowfin and
blackfin tuna that fight well and are delicious to eat. So, for anglers who want to get in some great fishing during cooler temperatures while there are more boats available, and the fish are biting better, come down this month and fish with us.

To fish with Ricky McDuffie, call him at (251) 981-9686, or on his cell at (251) 747-4468, or check out his webpage at www.orangebeachfishing.com.