Editor’s Note: Chip Day of the charter boat, “Chipper’s Clipper,” based out of Zeke’s Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama, has been fishing off Alabama’s Gulf Coast for 24 years.

Question: Chip, what do you like about January fishing?
Da
y: Throughout most of the country, people are fighting ice storms, slippery streets and snowy sidewalks, but on Alabama’s Gulf Coast we’ll often have mild temperatures and sunny skies in January with plenty of fish to catch. We can tailor make a trip on “Chipper’s Clipper” to fit anyone’s fishing needs. For instance, we offer a 4-hour near-shore trip where we’ll troll for big-bull redfish. On a 10- or 12-hour trip, we’ll go offshore to catch amberjacks, triggerfish, vermilion and white snapper. On these offshore trips, we’ll also catch red snapper that we’ll throw back, because the season’s closed. Depending on the grouper season, we may catch and keep grouper. We have a good grouper fishery off Alabama’s Gulf Coast for gag, black, red and scamp grouper. The inshore boats do well on redfish and sheepshead in January, and if we go up the river we’ll catch speckled trout inshore.

Question: When you go offshore, around what are you fishing?
Day: We fish a lot of natural bottom covered with big rocks and big wrecks like barges and boats. Those big wrecks hold plenty of amberjacks. Most trips, everyone on the boat will catch amberjacks. Next we’ll target triggerfish, and white and vermilion snapper.

Question: How big are the vermilion snapper you’re catching in January?
Day: They’re 12- to 20-inches long, so they’re a good grade. The triggerfish have to be 14-inches long, and those will run from 3- to 7-pounds each. In January, we’ll catch some really-nice triggerfish.

Question: Tell me about your grouper.
Day: The gag grouper is the most-dominant species in our area, but we’ll also catch black grouper. Although our average grouper weigh 10- to 20-pounds each, every once in awhile, we’ll catch a 40-pounder using big baits. Too, we’ll catch 15- to 20-pound each catch-and-release red snapper. This year, we’ve seen a good grade of scamp weighing from 3- to 8-pounds each.

Question: What size amberjacks do you catch in January?
Day: The regulation on amberjacks says they must be 30 inches to the fork of the tail. We’ve been catching amberjacks weighing 14- to 40-pounds each. If you want to catch amberjacks and other big fish, you’ll want to schedule a 10- or a 12-hour trip, unless you want to remain inshore fishing for 20- to 40-pound catch-and-release redfish. If gas prices will stay down this year like they have been the past month, we’ll see more boats running to deep water on 10- and 12-hour trips that target big fish. During January, by catching various types of fish, a party of six will leave the boat with enough fish for a good dinner when they return to port, and still they’ll have plenty of fish to take home for their freezers.

Question: What’s the advantage of visiting Orange Beach in January?
Day: There aren’t nearly as many people fishing this month as there are in the spring and summer. Finding a charter boat is easier, and because the fish haven’t been fished hard, they’ll usually bite better. The bite generally comes much quicker at this time of year because the fish are hungrier and haven’t had that much bait offered to them. If we have the right weather (calm seas and fairly-warm temperatures), you may have the best day of fishing of your life in January on Alabama’s Gulf Coast.       

To plan a trip with Chip Day on the charter boat, “Chipper’s Clipper,” call 251-981-1943 or 251-952-8247.