Editor’s Note: You can fish in February offshore for a wide variety of species off Alabama’s Coast. To get the most up-to-date report on offshore fishing, we talked with Captain Dick Cappar of Traveler Fishing Charters, based at Zeke’s Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama.

Question: What’s biting out in the Gulf of Mexico in February?
Cappar: Anglers can catch plenty of vermilion snapper, triggerfish, white snapper and amberjack. We also have more red snapper than you can imagine, but we have to throw all of them back. There’s a new regulation that closes gag grouper season throughout the months of February and March this year. Toward the end of February, we’ll see king mackerel and start preparing for cobia (ling) season. When ling season hits in March, everyone will be chasing cobia up and down the beaches.

Question: You mentioned amberjack. How good is the amberjack fishing in February?
Cappar: Amberjack fishing is a gamble in February. You have to make a long run, and the amberjack may not even be there. Your best bet in February is vermilion snapper (beeliners) and triggerfish. There’s a 20-fish aggregate with beeliners, white snapper and triggerfish, meaning you can keep 20 fish of these three species. Fishing for these species will give you plenty of fish for a delicious fish fry.

Question: Where in the Gulf of Mexico do you go to find triggerfish, vermilion snapper and white snapper?
Cappar: We’ll generally find these fish 20 to 25 miles from Perdido Pass at Orange Beach. We’ll mostly fish on natural bottom, not artificial reefs or wrecks. We’ll be fishing the edge of the continental shelf in 100 to 150 feet of water.

Question: How big are the vermilion snapper you catch in February?
Cappar: We’ll keep 10-inch-long vermilion snapper, weighing about 5- to 6-pounds each. However, most vermilion snapper we catch will weigh 1-1/2 to 2-1/2-pounds each, and these are really nice-sized fish. When I catch fish to take home and eat, I prefer vermilion snapper over red snapper. It’s one of my favorite fish to eat.

Question: Where will we find triggerfish?
Cappar: Although we catch triggerfish on natural bottom, we’ll generally locate them holding above wrecks and artificial reefs. The Liberty ships and artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico are productive spots to find triggerfish in February. There are plenty of triggerfish to catch in February, and they’re easy to catch because they haven’t had heavy fishing pressure at this time of year.

Question: What size triggerfish do you catch?
Cappar: The triggerfish we can keep are up to 13-inches long from the tip of the nose to the fork of the tail – a pretty-nice-sized triggerfish. This month, you won’t only catch triggerfish, vermilion snapper and white snapper. You’ll also catch numbers of red snapper, but as I’ve mentioned, you’ll have to throw them back. Our biggest challenge this month is staying away from the red snapper. There are overwhelming numbers of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico because of the new red snapper regulations, and they’ll bite any bait and rig. In the past, when we could keep red snapper throughout most of the year, we’d use single-hook rigs with long leaders and leads up the line because the red snapper would get line-shy due to heavy fishing pressure. In those days, the bigger red snapper only would eat live bait or whole cigar minnows. The red snapper became a food snob. However, because there now are tremendous amounts of red snapper in the Gulf, they’ll eat anything that hits the water. We’re constantly catching red snapper on two-hook rigs baited with squid. Only a few years ago the red snapper would turn their noses up at little baits on a two-hook rig, but not anymore. When the red snapper move into the spot we’re fishing, we’ll usually leave that site and look for another place to fish.

If we get on a good spot catching triggerfish, those red snapper often will swim in to eat our baits, and we’ll have to move away from them. A six-pack boat carrying six fishermen easily can catch and release 100 red snapper a day off Alabama’s coast. We’ll catch 8-inch and 20-pound red snapper. Some of the biggest red snapper we’ve caught this year have been caught using a two-hook rig baited with squid, while we’ve been fishing for vermilion snapper and triggerfish. Right now, the fishermen at Orange Beach will give you the coordinates for a really-good place to catch red snapper in exchange for the coordinates of a spot that holds a lot of triggerfish and/or vermilion snapper.

To contact Captain Dick Cappar, call 251-747-1886, or visit www.travelerfishingcharters.com, or email him at caprtan@gulftel.com.