Editor’s Note: October is the best month to catch a variety of fish along Alabama’s Gulf Coast because as the weather cools off, the baitfish move in, with the sportfish following not far behind. According to Captain Johnny Greene of the “Intimidator,” docked at Orange Beach Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama, anglers don’t have to travel nearly as far to catch fish in October as they do in the summer.

This month, the primary focus for our bottom fishermen will be yellowfin tuna, blackfin tuna, amberjack, white snapper, scamp and gag grouper. In October, we don’t have to travel nearly as far to find and catch the gag grouper as we do in the summertime. On a good day of grouper fishing, everybody in the boat will catch one or two grouper. Of course, there always will be big snapper to catch, which you can’t keep, but you can photograph them. Too, you’ll catch scamp and big white snapper. With snapper season being shortened, more anglers are targeting scamp. We’ve caught several scamp in the 15- to 25-pound range. To catch these big-sized scamp, put your time in at the rail, and be ready to drop your bait when I tell you to drop it. You can’t stand back and wait until someone else gets a bite before you decide to fish. Traditionally, the first one or two baits that hit the bottom will be the baits the scamp will take.

Too, this month, we’ll catch plenty of king mackerel until the first really-hard cold front moves through the area. The tuna and the king mackerel follow the same baitfish, and as long as the bait stays close inshore, the king mackerel will be biting. If we have a mild winter, we may have king mackerel inshore all month. Now, we don’t catch the monster kings that weigh from 40 to 60 pounds like those, caught by the Southern Kingfish Tournament anglers. Our kings will range from 25 to 30 pounds.

Amberjack fishing will be good throughout the winter. We’ve caught gorilla-sized amberjack weighing an average of 30- to 50-pounds each all year because of the overabundance of baitfish. We’ve also caught amberjack in the 90- to 100-pound range. We fished the Alabama General Contractors Rodeo a few weeks ago and finished second place in the amberjack division with an 88-pound amberjack. We won the rodeo overall with a number of other good catches. Too, this year, we’ve caught plenty of blackfin and yellowfin tuna, which have averaged about 100 pounds, depending on the size of fish in the schools of tuna we find each trip.

The wahoo fishing also has been really productive this year. The average wahoo we catch weighs around 30 to 50 pounds, with an occasional 60 to 70 pounder. In October, the wahoo make their fall migration into our area, so everyone on the boat generally will take at least one wahoo. Most of our big wahoo are caught in the middle of the day when most of my fishermen are half-asleep and not expecting to get good bites.

This year has been the best for marlin I can remember. We’ve caught more white marlin over at the Nipple and the Elbow than I’ve caught in many years. Also, the swordfish have really showed-up well this year. We’re catching quite a few swordfish now, and around the 14th of October, we’ll be doing a lot of swordfishing. Although we haven’t caught many blue marlin, we have caught white marlin and sailfish. 

This month, you can leave the dock and expect to catch anything from a white snapper to a blue marlin within 40 to 50 miles of Orange Beach. Since the baitfish are moving close to shore, we don’t spend nearly as much money for gas to reach productive fishing waters. If I had to pick one species this month that your chances are the best for catching, I’d choose swordfish. We’ve had tremendous success with the swordfish this year. We can average catching about one swordfish every trip. Recently, I saw pictures of a fisherman who caught a 200-pound swordfish. Our boat record is a 185-pound swordfish. When I was younger, this area didn’t home swordfish. But the swordfish have had a strong comeback in our region, and we’ve just begun to learn how to catch them.

If you’d like to fish with Captain Johnny Green on the “Intimidator,” call 251-747-2872, or visit www.fishorangebeach.com.