Friday, February 13, 2015

Orange Beach Pre-Spring Fishing Report

Spring is inching closer but we are still in winter fishing patterns for sure. Trout are still thick around the Mobile delta and in the rivers and Sheepshead and Redfish remain our main catches inshore along the coast. Beach fishing is still a little slower although some of the warmer days we had in the past week sparked a better Whiting bite.

Offshore, we are still targeting Amberjack and Vermillion Snapper on both artificial and natural structure. The Amberjack bite has remained very good within 25 miles and fish up to nearly 90lbs were caught in that range this past week.

The Tuna bite has been sporadic for the past two weeks. The bite has been good further SW but the main bluewater target has been Wahoo. The Wahoo have been thick on most rigs in 300-800ft of wahoo. Pulling deep diving plugs and live baiting has been best.

With warmer weather and faster fishing ahead, I want to share some new products that are sure to make your days on the water more productive this season. These are all items that are currently in stock in our store. I've used most of these personally and can certainly vouch for their effectiveness.

Spring Cobia brings me to the first two items.

Salt Life Big-Eye Salty Jig
These are 3oz, silicone-skirted jigs that come in several colors. They have a long-shanked, HD hook and oversized eyes. The skirt has a lot of volume and has a great undulating action when retrieved and a pulsing, "breathing" motion on the pause. I have done very well on Amberjack, Red Snapper and Gag Grouper using these jigs and I don't think a Cobia will turn his nose up to them either. Our price is $8.99

Savage Gear TPE and Manic Crab
Many lure designers strive for realism and not many have been able to compete with the look and action of Savage Gear's baits. Their new crab imitation is no exception. Crab lures have never held a special place in my tackle boxes. Most crab imitations just don't have realistic movement, but that's definitely not the case with these. These baits are offered in both rigged and unrigged versions and come in two sizes. The legs and claws are flexible and durable. They can be rigged to "scoot" backwards along the bottom or sideways for super-realistic swimming. This is one of our newer baits that I haven't used personally but after seeing their action in the water I am sure they will be very effective on Redfish, Cobia and any other species that feed on crabs. Come by and test one out in our test tank. Prices range from $3.99-$4.99 and additional, form-fitting jigheads can be purchased for $5.99.

Bluewater Candy Alabama "Spanish" Rig
For those that like to troll the beach or take kids fishing for Spanish Mackerel, we have a very cool new rig from Bluewater Candy. This is a saltwater version of the very popular "Alabama Rig" used by many Bass fishermen. The rig comes in a large, single pouch, mesh-backed bag for storage and is rigged on a heavy, stainless steel wire harness. There are five mackerel tubes that attach at the ends of each arm. Put this in your spread as you troll the beach for mackerel or use it for catching hardtails for bait. Our price is $29.99

New Models From Unfair Lures
If you read many of my reports here or on local forums, then you're well aware by now that Unfair Lures are my hands-down favorite, inshore hard-bait. This year we added several new models. Some are different sizes or colors of models we kept before and others are new bodies altogether.

The first one is the Stickminnow. The Stickminnow is a suspending, lipped jerkbait. It has a great rolling action and gives off a ton of flash. Excellent bait for bigger Specks and Redfish, especially where a finger Mullet imitation is needed.

The second is Paul's Arrowhead. This is a truly unique bait with an action unlike many other offerings from the company and competing brands. The Arrowhead doesn't roll like the Rip-N-Slash or Greenie. It stays upright and has a side-to-side action imitating a Menhaden or small Threadfin herring. You can do a twitch and pause retrieve which will give it a walking type retrieve or crank a slow, but steady retrieve that creates a tighter, back-and-forth swim. This bait is a slow sinker and I expect it to be a killer in all water depths.

The last new bait we're carrying from Unfair Lures is the Dinkum Shrimp in a fast sinking model. This is basically a shrimp-imitating version of a vertical jig. You can fish these on deep inshore structure or even offshore in water up to 80ft deep. The lure sports a single treble hook in the belly with a swivel attachment just under the tail of the lure. As the lure sinks, it has a slow, planning descent that will carry it in a wide spiral.

The new Unfair baits will range from $8.99-10.99

R&R Jigging/Conventional Wind-On Leaders
R&R tackle continues to make practical, commercial-grade gear for serious anglers. These new Wind-On leaders are a huge time and space saver for anyone fishing braided line with a short top-shot. These aren't so much Wind-On leaders as much as spare top shots that can be quickly attached in the event of a break off or when your mono starts getting too short. They feature double-walled spectra loops spliced on the ends and come in 50ft lengths. We carry these in 50, 60 and 80lb strengths. Put a couple of these in your gear bag and you won't lose time between rigging. Prices range from $14.99-16.99.

Halco Offshore Casting Lures
For the offshore popping and casting crowd, we are happy to say we are now carrying the Halco Max and Roosta Poppa casting baits from Halco. We are carrying the Roosta Poppa in two sizes and a few different colors. These are very loud, long-casting lures made for catching Tuna, Jacks and any other large gamefish on the surface. The Max is a smaller, slimmed version of the Halco Giant Trembler. It weighs nearly 3oz and sinks fast. It has a tight, vibrating action and can be cast or trolled. This lure should prove itself well on Wahoo, Tuna and Amberjack but will take Mackerel and many others. Like all Halco baits, these come with heavy thru-wire harnesses connecting to tripled split rings and extra strong trebles. Prices are $12.99-19.99.

Williamson Surface Pro and Popper Pro
Joining the offshore casting baits from Halco are these new surface baits from Williamson. The Popper Pro is fairly self-explanatory. It is a topwater popping lure similar to the Williamson Jet Popper but lacks the jet head and is in a slimmer body. The Surface Pro is true, bluewater, walk-the-dog style topwater. Both lures weigh around 1 1/2oz and feature heavy split rings with VMC In-Line J hooks. They sell for $18.99

VMC In-Line Hooks
These are extremely strong new hooks from VMC. They are excellent replacement or upgrade hooks for topwater poppers or trolling plugs. The turned eye on the hook allows the hook point to sit in line with the lure rather sideways after being attached to a split ring. The result is a hook-set on a plug with greater setting ability. These hooks come in 3/0-7/0 and retail for $6.99.

Owner Grand Slam Hooks
This is a variation on the classic "Kahle" style hook that has always been a staple to Gulf coast fishermen. This hook features a black-nickel finish and a wide throat. Unlike the traditional Kahle hook, this new model from Owner is non-offset. We offer sizes from #2-2/0 and they sell in 24-28 quantity pro-packs for $10.99.

A couple other new items I do not have pictures of at this time include:

Sam's Custom Cobia Rods
We just received our first batch of Cobia rods. These are 8', medium-heavy sticks rated for 20-40lb line. They feature graphite/fiberglass composite blanks and oversized, stainless wire framed guides. They retail for $159.99.

Rapala BX Waking Minnow
This is a bait I was very anxious to get in my hands. It is a Balsa-cored bait with a polyurethane shell in very lifelike colors. It features three trbel hooks along the belly and has a short, near vertical lip. Despite being a lipped plug, the lure is actually a topwater. With a steady retrieve, the lure pushes a large wake and a wide, side-to-side roll. Expect this to be a go-to for big speckled trout and any other aggressive inshore gamefish. These will sell for $14.99

Chris Vecsey
Sam's Bait and Tackle
27122 Canal Rd
Orange Beach, Al 36561

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Orange Beach Fishing Report for Jan 1-21st 2015

We've had a lot of rough days so far this year, but with openings on a few key species starting January 1st, we have all been taking advantage of any decent weather windows and so far have had great fishing in the new year.

As of January 1st, Greater Amberjack and Gray Triggerfish are open to harvest. This leaves only Red Snapper and Gag Grouper closed in federal waters. The Amberjack bite has been very good on just about any major structure from 6 miles offshore to 80 miles. We have been catching them on a huge variety of baits and lures. Live bait is usually the key to catching bigger AJs and spending some time catching good bait at the start of a trip will pay off. We usually try to catch Ruby Lips and other smaller reef fish on bottom spots within 10 miles before heading out. If you reeaally want to get big Amberjack, try catching a Bonito and using it for live bait. You rarely get an Amberjack under 50lbs doing this. I managed to hook a 80+lb AJ on Monday this week while using a 6lb Bonito. The Amberjack got free after the 9/0 circle hook broke! Needless to say, bring heavy gear if you plan on targeting large jacks.

For Triggerfish, I recommend downsizing your gear and fishing two to three hook rigs on 40-50lb leader and using smaller, #4-#1 circle hooks. The Owner Mutu circle is my favorite hook for Triggers. Use small chunks of squid, bonito chunks or even fresh cut shrimp. Fish different zones of the water column and watch your depthfinder. Triggers will usually show as smaller, less distinct marks on the screen.

Out further, all species of Grouper (minus Gag) are open until February 1st at which time all shallow water species of Grouper (Scamp, Gag, Red, Black, Yellowfin) will be prohibited from harvest beyond 20 fathoms until April 1st.

Bluewater reports have been few and far between due to weather, but we had some decent we had a few days of good weather this past week and a few boats got out for Tuna and other pelagics. From those reports, the Tuna seem to be in great numbers to the SW at rigs from 90 miles and further. Wahoo are very thick at rigs just inside and beyond the shelf in depths of 300-800ft.

Inshore fishing has been ok but cold water temperatures have limited variety. Sheepshead have been the main catch with Redfish and Black Drum a regular bycatch. Fiddler crabs and ghost shrimp are the best baits.

A few things to watch as we get near February and the start of spring:

- Pompano action will heat up once water consistently stay above 65 degrees (58-60 currently).

- Sheepshead are in thick now but will really pick up by mid February as they prepare to spawn.

Another thing I'd to add involves keeping up with regulations. Its not as easy for everyone to keep up with the federal seasons and changing bag and size limits. If you have a smart phone of pretty much any type, that can be solved. Go to your "App store" and search for the Gulf Fisheries Council App or "GFCRegs" app. This app will inform you of regulation changes, notifies you when to update and has a great species ID list. The app only gives regulations in federal waters, but it also provides links to other apps that show Gulf state regulations.

Next weeks forecast shows a couple decent weather days so hopefully it holds.

Chris Vecsey
Sam's Bait and Tackle
27122 Canal Rd
Orange Beach, Al 36561

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Orange Beach Fishing Report for the last couple weeks--10/30/14

It seems like the warm weather tried to hold on a little longer this year, but with a strong front approaching this weekend we are surely going to see some changes in the fishing. Here's what's been happening for the last couple weeks and a little bit of a forecast of what's to come as the cooler temperatures set in.

The mackerel bite just offshore is still very good. We've been getting Spanish Mackerel from the beachfront and out up to 10 miles or so but the majority of the action for King Mackerel has been between 6-20 miles out on larger reefs and rigs. We had some excellent action with King Mackerel this past Monday around shallow rigs just off of Ft Morgan. Most fish were 10-15lbs but there were a few 20+lb fish thrown in and larger baits could've helped trigger bites from larger fish. Trolling is a good way of locating the mackerel but casting to them with lighter gear after locating them can be a blast. Pull deep diving plugs or planer/spoon combos until you find the fish and then throw large casting spoons or jigs.

Inshore, the Redfish and Flounder bite has been getting better and better as the air has cooled. The bull reds have shown up off the beaches and around popular places like Dixie Bar at Ft Morgan. Both live and dead baits will take the big reds and mullet and menhaden are tops. Pulling deep diving plugs will locate fish off of the beaches as well as a "run and gun" approach for fish on the surface. Always look for birds and watch your depth finder for bait and schooling reds.

Flounder can be expected from the upper bays to just offshore. The flatfish will be moving through the bays and ICW and working their way out of the passes to the beachfronts and close in wrecks. Bull Minnows and Finger Mullet have always been my favorite baits but working soft plastics and bucktails can be even more productive with more ground covered in a shorter time. Bounce the jigs along the bottom around docks, jetties, nearshore wrecks, etc.

Speckled Trout will start moving into upper bays and coastal creeks within the next few weeks but there are still plenty of fish in the lower bays and even off the beaches. Once coastal water temps hit 70 degrees or so, the fish will begin moving further inland.

October surf fishing was tough. There was an ever-present buildup of weeds on the beach and keeping baits on the bottom without them being covered in vegetation was a constant issue. Even with the extra salad, the Pompano and Whiting bite was good enough to put in the effort and it'll only get better over the next couple weeks. Some of my best Pompano trips have been in the opening week of November. The Sand Fleas and Ghost Shrimp are generally plentiful and the high pressure and dominant north and northeast winds usually keep the surf in a "fishable" state. Finding good runouts or variances in the sandbars are key to successful surf fishing and the beaches have been looking good over the past couple weeks. My general fall surf spread consists of two lighter rods baited with ghosts shrimp or sand fleas for pompano and a heavier rod baited with cut mullet or whiting for bull redfish. I fish the lighter setups closer to shore just beyond the breakers and put the heavier setup much further out into the trough. A good November surf session can produce several different species in a couple hours. I prefer incoming tides for Pompano and Whiting and an outgoing for Redfish, although the Reds still bite well on incoming tides as well.

There are still plenty of bottom fishing opportunities offshore despite a few species being out of season. I put very little effort into bottom fishing in the past week and still managed to produce with Yellowedge and Gag Grouper, Vermillion Snapper and a few others. This is also a great time of year to target Scamp. Focus on waters in excess of 150ft for chances with Scamp and larger Grouper. Natural bottom areas will produce more with "in season" species and less with Red Snapper.

Our close in bluewater bite did slow down a bit over the past week but there is still plenty to offer within 40 miles of the pass. I fished a few days in the area around the Nipple and Elbow over the past few weeks and had good action most days. Last Sunday saw a big change in the pattern. There was a lot of bait, but holding very deep and the lack of surface bait slowed the bite tremendously. Still, the water temps are right and the fish should remain in that area for a couple more weeks. I watch the water temperatures and look for water above 74 degrees. The tuna bite has been getting better and better at rigs inside of 90 miles. There were some very nice fish caught this past weekend including a new Alabama and Gulf record Bigeye Tuna that weighed in at 236lbs. That fish was caught aboard the "Heck Yeah" Captained by Bo Keough. The crew also caught several nice Yellowfin Tuna. Most fish caught over the past weekend were taken trolling and chunking.

November is usually a top month for Wahoo. These fish will be stacking up on the 50 fathom line and on rigs and other structures near the edge. Trolling mixed spreads will connect with Hoos, but my favorite two methods are pulling a spread of deep diving plugs or live baiting. Deep divers can be extremely effective and I prefer plugs that are rated to 20' or more. The Rapala X Rap 30 and Mann's Stretch 30+ are my two favorites. You can pull these right out of the package but I generally upgrade the hooks to 4X trebles or inline J hooks. I usually pull three plugs to keep things clean and tangle free. For live baits, its hard to beat a 6-8 inch hardtail. I usually rig them on a stinger rig with a 1/0, short shanked, J hook in the front and a 4X treble in the back. You can drift these or bump troll them. I also like to use a downrigger when bump trolling and sometimes fish three or four baits at once. The Wahoo bite will produce all winter as long as the weather cooperates.

Seasonal reminders:

Greater Amberjack, Gray Triggerfish, Red Grouper and Red Snapper are out of season in federal waters. Some of these species are still open in Florida waters. Go to for Florida regulations and seasons.

I'm anxious to see what happens after this front pushes through. Good Luck!

Chris Vecsey
Sam's Bait and Tackle
27122 Canal Rd
Orange Beach, Al 36561

I haven't taken enough pics lately but here's the new Alabama State record Bigeye Tuna caught by the crew of "Heck Yeah"

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Orange Beach Fishing Report for 9/19-9/25/14--- Windy Week!

This past week certainly wasn't the best week for throwing a line, but we had a couple of "OK" days to fish and the bite was still happening.

Our inshore action was more of the same from the past two weeks with the Redfish biting decently in the pass and local bays and some good docklight action with both Reds and Trout. The pattern was similar but the wind made fishing certain locations more difficult. The fishing also wasn't as good in the skinny water of the flats early in the mornings. Instead, fishing the deeper channels adjacent to grassflats and shallow bars proved more productive. The weather in the coming week looks to be another windy one with dropping temperatures so I expect the fish to hold to the current pattern. I would pay attention to wind shifts in the afternoons though. Calm periods in the evenings will usually produce a good topwater bite in the shallows.

Another good inshore target this time of the year is Mangrove (Black) Snapper. These tasty guys will be all over most inshore structure until water temps dip into the low 70s at which time the larger fish will seek deeper water and the keepers (12" TL in Al) will be further and fewer between. Live Shrimp and small LYs will be best, but they will hit a variety of small live baits and even plugs and soft plastic artificials.

In the surf, the Pompano bite picked up considerably. Pieces of shrimp and ghost shrimp worked equally well and some of the Pomps caught were of good size. Incoming tide has been best and we will finally slide off of the long NEAP tide we've had tomorrow. Tides will rising in the afternoons and the first couple hours of the incoming tide will be best. The positive thing to come from our high winds recently is the formation of many runouts and cuts along the beaches, which are key feeding points for Pompano and other surf-running gamefish. Fish the edges of these runouts and vary the depths of your baits until you get bit.

We continued to have good fishing in the bluewater this past week although the wind limited time on the water. The tunas bit good at rigs 90+ miles out although there were many caught within that as well. Quite a few Blue Marlin were caught both at the rigs and around natural bottom to the southeast. The Nipple, Spur and Squiggles have been very hot areas for billfish over the past six weeks and the conditions are still favorable. I fished just north of the Nipple on Monday for a few hours and we caught one Wahoo and raised a Blue Marlin in the 300lb range. That fish pounced on a pink, SquidNation daisy chain and despite hitting our pitch bait three times, we were unable to keep a hook set. The Wahoo hit a Moldcraft Wide Range.

Expect the billfish bite to continue and the Wahoo bite to get better as water temps drop into the low 80s. Be sure to watch the depthfinder while trolling too. You will be passing over many good deep drop spots to hit later.

I don't have many great pics from the past week since the wind limited what we could do. Below is a nice Deep Drop spot we found on Monday while trolling and a hungry Mangrove Snapper that hit my UnFair Rip-N-Slash

Chris Vecsey
Sam's Bait and Tackle
27122 Canal Rd
Orange Beach, Al 36561

Friday, September 19, 2014

Orange Beach Fishing Report for 9/6-9/18/14--- My favorite time of year to fish!

We are finally getting into that "magic" time of the year. The transition from Summer into fall has always been my favorite. The water temps will start to cool slowly through September and generally won't make a big plunge until late October or early November. Right now, things are looking great both inshore and offshore and we still have plenty of action to come.

The inshore fishing over the past two weeks has been very good for Redfish and Flounder. Redfish are still in their usual late summer pattern of being everywhere on both tides. We have been getting Reds of all sizes in the backwaters, from the upper parts of Wolf Bay to several miles offshore. Reds in the upper bays have been biting well on live shrimp under popping corks as well as small topwater lures and twitchbaits like the Mirrolure 17MR and 14MR and the Unfair Rip-N-Slash and Dinkum Mullet. Fish closer to the pass have been feeding on a wider variety of baits from glass minnows to larger Mullet and Pinfish. Live baits such as these will do well and larger topwater lures and soft plastics will get plenty of action around the grass flats early.

The Flounder bite has picked up with some very nice fish being taken on both gig and rod-and-reel. Live Bull Minnows will be the best live baits around piers, jetties and bulkheads. Working the bottom with both curltail and paddletail grubs is a great way to target them through the fall. Keep the baits moving with plenty of action but make sure they stay close to the bottom. Boat slips with deep depressions are excellent spots for flipping jigs for Flounder. I usually do best on brighter colors like pearl white or chartreuse.

Water temperatures in the surf are still in the low 80s but the Pompano have been showing up in good numbers. Getting on the water early and fishing baits deeper in the trough is the best way to target Pomps until water temps dip into the upper 70s. Sand Fleas and Ghost Shrimp have been fairly available and will make the best baits but fresh, cut, pieces of shrimp or frozen sand fleas will work too. Some Whiting have been caught lately but the main surf by-catch has been large Bluefish, Ladyfish and Redfish. Fishing 20lb leaders will keep leader-shy Pompano biting and help you lose less tackle to the toothy and rough mouthed incidental species.

Just offshore, there are still plenty of King and Spanish Mackerel to be taken inside of 10 miles. Pulling the typical Mackerel spreads of spoons, dusters and planer rigs will take plenty, but make sure to keep a deep diving plug like a Mann's Stretch 25+ mixed in the trolling spread. We usually score big Kings on these as well as the bonus Wahoo every now and then. Vary your speeds from 4-6 knots until you get bites.

Bottom fishing has been very good and the Grouper fishing in particular has been getting better closer in. For the majority of the season you needed to be in 180+ft of water to consistently catch nice Grouper but we are starting to get larger Gags and Red Grouper in depths of 100-140ft. Large live baits including Ruby Lips, Pinfish, Beeliners and similar will do best of Grouper. If you are targeting Scamp, try downsizing the bait and termainal gear and mix in some dead baits like whole, small squid. Another fun way to grouper fish is with jigs, working them fairly slowly near the bottom. Large buckatail jigs and Squidtil Jigs do well with this but they will also hit metal "buttefly" style jigs and diamond jigs.

Other bottom targets right now include Vermillion Snapper, Mangrove Snapper, Almaco Jack and deep dropping for Snowy and Yellowedge Grouper, Golden Tilefish, Longtail Bass and a few others. You can catch Greater Amberjack but they are out of season and will have to be released. That shouldn't stop you from going out and getting your arms pulled out of socket by a big AJ. They're a ton of fun to catch and release.

The billfish bite is still excellent and Wahoo are showing up in better numbers now. A few boats in the past week caught three species of billfish in a day and the boat "Controlled Chaos" nearly had a super slam catching Blue and White Marlin, a Spearfish and losing a Swordfish. With Sailfish generally showing up in better numbers in September and October, there are great billfish slam opportunities right now.

Reminders on seasons:

-Greater Amberjack, Red Snapper and Gray Triggerfish are closed in federal waters

-Gray Triggerfish is open in Florida State Waters and you will need both a Florida and Alabama license to retain Triggers caught in Fl state waters. IF targeting Triggers in Fl state waters or if you are in possession of Triggers, do not stray in federal waters afterward or you will be subject to fines.

Let's hope for good weather and calm seas this coming week. Good luck to everyone!

Chris Vecsey
Sam's Bait and Tackle
27122 Canal Rd
Orange Beach, Al 36561

Some pics from the past two weeks, including a nice Blue Marlin caught by Sam's customer Archie Mcmillian and his crew on a TLD 25. A White marlin and some Dolphin from Capt. Adam Peeples with One Shot Charters and a few others from my past two weeks, inshore and off. There's also a good side-by-side pic of an Unfair Rip-N-Slash after a couple of trips. Definitely my favorite, new, inshore lure

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Orange Beach Fishing Report for the past few weeks

labor Day has come and gone and with it another great season here at our store. The business may slow down a bit, but the fishing sure hasn't and it will only improve as fall approaches.

Over the past two weeks, we have had an excellent Redfish bite inshore and in the surf. Most of the reds being caught in the surf have been on cut bait and live shrimp although I've been doing well around the pass using soft plastic lures on heavier jigheads. Inshore, the reds have been everywhere; around docks, jetties, flats, etc. Docklights of course have been an easy start for getting on good numbers of reds and trout. Best baits have been finger mullet, small croakers and menhaden. Many artificials have been working well too and the topwater bite around shallow points and grassflats has been very good in the mornings and late afternoons.

The trout fishing has been fairly slow but fishing early mornings or hitting dock lights at night has been best for specks. Live croakers are hands down the best bait right now, but shrimp and a variety of smaller, baitfish imitating artificials will work. The Trout action should pick up as water temperatures cool down. Look for temps in the upper 70s for better trout action into the fall.

Off the beach, The Redfish as mentioned earlier are prime targets, but there are good numbers of Flounder, Spanish Mackerel, Bluefish and Ladyfish just offshore to keep rods bent. You can fish for these anywhere along the beaches, the jetties at Perdido Pass or off of the State Pier. For Flounder, try live bull minnows and curltail grubs in chartreuse or pearl bumped right along the sand. For the Spanish Mackeral and others, small slab-type spoons and mylar jigs have been very effective. The Pompano are here but you have to get your baits deep. Try to hit the deepest parts of the trough before the outer sandbar. Small pieces of fresh dead shrimp and sand fleas will be top baits. Expect Whiting to take these same baits as well as Sheepshead and Drum into the end of the month.

Offshore, the Grouper bite has been great on structures in 180+ft of water. Live Pinfish, Ruby Lips and others have been top baits. For Scamp, try downsizing your bait and leader. Small pinfish and smaller, whole squid are both great Scamp baits. We're also catching large Vermillion Snapper, Mangrove Snapper and a few others while fishing for the Grouper. Greater Amberjack season closed on August 25th and while harvest is prohibited, that shouldn't stop anyone from getting their arms stretched from big AJs. Larger live baits and most types of vertical jigs have worked well. As temperatures come down, expect larger AJs to gather on closer structures inside of 20 miles.

As far as bluewater fishing goes, we have had one of the best billfish bites in years over the last three weeks. Most fish have been caught to the southeast around the nipple and elbow and White Marlin have made up the bulk of the catch along with several Blues, a few Sailfish and even a Spearfish. Pulling at slower speeds and utilizing teasers and smaller baits has been the most productive method although more conventional trolling methods have been effective too. The Wahoo bite has been a little slow but we are still catching them while targeting Billfish.

The Swordfishing has been pretty consistent this year and the past two weeks have seen some productive trips. I fished one night a couple weeks back and although our trip was cut short due to weather, we still managed to go 1-2 on Swords releasing an undersized fish and missing the hookup on another. The private boat "Cotton Patch" went 2-2 on Swords this past weekend while fishing about 60 miles offshore. They had one legal fish and one undersized.

One pattern that is repeating this year is a strong push of clean water from the southeast resulting in larger pelagic fish being closer to shore. There were a few Sailfish caught within 3 miles that past week including a Sailfish caught at the Perdido Pass buoy on the "Riptide" with Capt. Seth Wilson. I also fished yesterday and managed to put my good friend James Plowright on his first Wahoo while fishing just 5 miles from the pass. The fish was in the 40lb range and hit a deep diving plug.

One thing is for certain; you can't catch them if you don't put in time on the water and I have a feeling this fall is going to be a great one for fishing!

Don't forget before you go that:

-Alabama Fishing Licenses expired on August 31st.

- Greater Amberjack, Red Snapper and Gray Triggerfish are out of season in federal waters. Gray Triggerfish are open in Florida waters.

Below are a few pics from the past few weeks including James Plowright's first Wahoo and Lacy Courtney's first White Marlin

Chris Vecsey
Sam's Bait and Tackle
27122 Canal Rd
Orange Beach, Al 36561

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Orange Beach Fishing Report as of late

I know I've sidelined my entries lately, but we've been super busy here at the store and I hate to say it but I've just let it get away from me. Anyway... here's what has been happening lately:

For the past two weeks we've had some odd water conditions. Warm and clear at 80-82 degrees for a few days followed by stained, cold water sometimes as low as 75 degrees. It has slowed some fish down a little, but only a little. The Redfish bite has been very good inshore with fish ranging from 16" rats to 40+" bulls. Most of the bigger fish have been around Perdido Pass or just off of the beaches. Live and dead baits of menhaden, mullet and shrimp will catch plenty of the larger reds. For smaller reds around the dock and in the bays, use live shrimp, small live croakers and various artificial lures like the 18MR Mirrolure or soft plastic shrimp imitations. Trout fishing has been a little bit slower in the OB but we are still catching some decent ones in Bayou St John, Terry's Cove and the ICW. Live croakers are definitely tops for quality Specks this time of year, but live shrimp and finger mullet will take their share of fish as well as suspending and sinking twitchbaits and topwater lures.

Nearshore we have had an excellent King Mackerel run between 1 and 30 miles. Most have been school sized fish but we have had some true smokers going 40+lbs. Drifting live and dead baits has accounted for the biggest Kings, but trolling has taken bigger numbers. Don't be surprised if you hook a stray Wahoo in close as well. Some pretty large Wahoo, including a fish that went 86lbs, were taken recently by boats trolling to and from bottom spots or on the way out and in. You can't catch them if you don't have baits in the water!

Currently we are having a weekend only snapper season in Alabama state waters. This is a Friday, Saturday and Sunday season throughout the month of July. The main question surrounding this is where are our actual state boundaries? The State has approved to extend its state waters to nine miles although the federal government does not currently recognize our waters as any beyond three miles. The state has included the warning that all fish taken between three and nine miles can still result in a fine and that you are fishing at your own risk. So....there that is.

In addition to Red Snapper on weekends, you can also keep Gray Triggerfish in state waters on the weekends, but once again, retaining Triggers past three miles can potentially result in a fine.

Further out, there are good numbers of Cobia on the rigs and larger wrecks within 30 miles. We've been taking them fairly consistently while targeting other species. Keeping a pair of spinning rods rigged up will help you score with the opportunistic Cobia. I like to keep one with a 50-60lb mono leader and a 6/0-7/0 circle hook and another with a large feather or bucktail-style jig. In addition to Cobia, these rigs will also take Dolphin (Mahi Mahi) should they show up around the boat.

Our bluewater season has had some ups and downs. It started with clean water everywhere and then heavy spring rains dumped unseen amounts of freshwater into the Gulf creating some vast dead zones. The fish have still been out there but further runs have been a by-product of the dirtier water. In the past two weeks, cleaner water has pushed in and some very epic rips and weed lines were the result. These rips have held Wahoo, Dolphin, Billfish and even some large Yellowfin Tuna. The Tuna bite around the rigs has been good lately, with good catches coming from the closer rigs like Petronius and Marlin. The tunas have been skittish and live baiting and kite fishing have been the best methods although trolling and chunking have been productive at times.

I've been out a lot in the last few months. I would try to recap everything, but that would take forever. Instead, I'll just post a bunch of pics and show you some of the action we've had here in OB. However, before you look at pictures, I'll lay down a few reminders and mental notes to keep stored in your heads:

-Greater Amberjack will re-open in federal waters on August 1st

-Gray Triggerfish will not re-open until January 1st, 2015

-Gag grouper is now open in all waters until December 3rd, 2014

-Red Snapper are now closed in Florida waters.

Chris Vecsey
Sam's Bait and Tackle
27122 Canal Rd
Orange Beach, Al 36561