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

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Orange Beach Fishing Report for 4/4-4/18/14

Wet and Windy would be the best way to describe this past week here in Orange Beach, but the fishing was still good and there looks to be some great weather ahead in the forecast.

Water temperatures are still well below average and we have yet to hold 70 degrees and above just off of the beach which has delayed the Cobia bite. Still, there were some very nice fish caught this past week between Gulf Shores and Navarre with a few Cobia near the 80lb mark. The fish this year have hit a wide variety of lures and baits without showing a true preference but on certain days the fish have turned down tried-and-true baits like live eels, croakers and such so it pays to have a wide variety of baits on board. All of the rain we had in the past few days has stained the coastal waters just off of our beaches so heading east in the coming week should yield better results on migrating Cobia.

Inshore, Redfish and Sheepshead still make up the bulk of the catch around Perdido Pass, piers and inshore structures but the Speckled Trout bite is getting better. There were some good trout catches from the ICW this past weekend and over the next couple weeks we should start seeing some trout action pick up around Terry's Cove, Bayou St John and maybe even larger fish showing up off of the beaches. The specks have been biting live shrimp well and using other, larger baits like croakers will up the chances for big fish. The Redfish will bite these same baits and Sheepshead will also take live shrimp.

Off of the beaches, The Pompano bite has been fairly strong and even with the lower salinity from this weeks storms, the fish are still being caught in good numbers. Most fish are being taken on small pieces of shrimp and sand fleas. Some nice redfish are being taken while pompano fishing as well. If you want to target the larger redfish, use fresh cut mullet or shrimp.

Further offshore, the Amberjack have been plentiful on most structures in 120+ft and are being taken with both live baits and a variety of jigs. A few Wahoo are starting to show up to the southeast near the elbow, but the bluewater action there along with the Nipple and the Spur won't heat up for probably two to three more weeks when water temps are allowed to reach the low to mid 70s.

The Tuna bite has been getting better around the 70-90 mile rigs like Petronius, Marlin and others in that range. Chunking with pogies and trolling rigged ballyhoo will account for most fish.

I did some inshore fishing and put in a short amount of cobia hunting over the past two weeks. The Speckled Trout have cooperated to a degree but the bite is still slower. I fished earlier this week and scored some nice trout up to 22 inches with most fish being in the 16-19 inch range. most of the trout I've been catching have been hitting soft plastic baits like the Savage Gear manic Shrimp and the Saltwater Assassin 4" split tails in silver mullet. The fish have been consistently holding deeper throughout most of the day but have been hitting some surface lures early in the morning on the incoming tide.

I have only made it out for one Cobia outing since rougher winds and seas have kept me inside the bays. I fished for a few hours last week and covered a fair amount of water but did not see a single fish. I had a time constraint however and did not make it as far east as I had wished. I later heard reports that there were some nice fish caught off of Penacola beaches and Navarre.

Our 3rd Annual Pompano Tournament is still running good and there are still 10 days left to fish. If you think you may hit the beaches in the next week and half, you may want to consider entering!

Forecast is looking better this coming week so I should have a good report next week.

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

A couple Specks from this week as well as a beautiful Redfish caught by Bill Murph

Friday, April 4, 2014

Orange Beach Fishing Report for Late March-April 4/14

Spring fishing is finally here and so are the fish that go with it!

The Sheepshead fishing really turned on about two weeks ago. Most anglers fishing Perdido pass and the piers have had no problem catching good numbers of Sheepshead. Most have been using Fiddler crabs and shrimp. The Sheepshead bite should remain good for two to three more weeks before the fish start to scatter and larger fish move back offshore.

Also inshore are good numbers of Redfish and the Speckled Trout bite is picking up as well. Redfish are being caught on pretty most inshore structure right now including piers and inland jetties. Live Shrimp, Finger Mullet or Bull Minnows are all great baits as well as fresh cut mullet and shrimp imitating artificials. Speckled Trout will hit most of these baits as well along with top water lures, twitchbaits like the 17MR and 18MR Mirrolures and Paul Brown SoftDine. Expect the Trout to feed along the shallower flats in the mornings and retreating to deeper water during the day along Ole River, Big lagoon and parts of the intercoastal. Once water temps warm up a bit, Larger Specks will start running the troughs just off of the beaches. Look for water temps in the low to mid 70s for good action with large beach-running Trout.

The Pompano light switch was just flipped and the Pompano are here in big numbers along with a good average size. You can fish for Pomps around the mouths of both Perdido Pass and West Pass along with the Gulf State Park Fishing Pier. The best baits will be Sand fleas, fresh dead shrimp and ghost shrimp. Pompano will also take bright colored jigs fished just beyond the breakers or jigged around pier and bridge pilings. Orange and Pink have been the best colors.

Spanish Mackerel are here in ample supply, but the Kings are still a no-show. Water temps just offshore have varied between 65-67 degrees, just on the cool side for King Macks. I expect the Kings to move in within the next week or so. We have a warm forecast ahead of us which should push the water temps to 68 and above.

The first Cobia of the 2014 migration were caught this past week and the fish are coming on strong. Wilson Gregory caught the first Cobia for the Gulf State Park Pier yesterday and many more were sighted or hooked. We have some rough seas forecasted for the weekend as well as some heavy rain which will curb the fishing pressure a bit, but the run should remain strong for at least a few more weeks before slowly tapering off as the fish start to take up residence on offshore structures and rigs. The tried and true baits and lures will work of course with live Eels and larger baitfish being top choices for larger fish.

Offshore, the shallow water grouper season has opened back up for fish beyond the twenty fathom line. This includes Scamp, Red Grouper and few other species but excludes Gag grouper will remain closed until fall. Triggerfish, Amberjack, all species of Snapper besides Red and all deep water species of Grouper are open to harvest.

The bluewater bite is getting more reliable for those limited by range. The Tuna bite at rigs such as Ram Powell, Marlin and Beer Can. Good numbers of both Yellowfin and Blackfin Tuna were caught in the past two weeks in these areas, mostly by chunking. I suggest subscribing to an online satellite imaging service such as Hilton's Realtime Navigator for picking the better windows to make the long runs. Wahoo are still being taken around rigs and natural bottom between the 50 and 100 fathom lines further to the SW. Trolling deep diving plugs, skirted ballyhoo and live baiting are all productive methods.

I have done a healthy amount of bottom fishing over the past few weeks, mostly for Amberjack, Vermillion Snapper, Triggerfish and Scamp on shallower structures in 110' or so. I've had some great catches on these trips, but haven't been able to do any long runs until Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Kasey and I joined one of our reps and fished with Captain George Mitchell aboard George's 36ft Yellowfin Snake Dancer. We left Dauphin Island at 6:30 or so and headed SW to get bait and do some Wahoo fishing before breaking out the electrics and doing some deep dropping for Golden Tilefish. At our bait stop, we put some Blue Runners (Hardtails) in the livewell and also got lucky with a Cobia for the box. We hooked one Wahoo at our first spot before trying a couple others with no luck. We switched gears and put some very nice Golden Tilefish in the box before heading further East to try a couple of my spots for Wahoo. We ended up hooking five more Wahoo, landing three between 40 and 65lbs. In the end we had a very nice box of fish and I can't wait to make the haul out again.

Don't forget, our 3rd Annual Pomp Stomp, Pompano fishing tournament is going on throughout the month of April and registration is $25.00. For additional info, feel free to call the store.

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

Wahoo and Tilefish from Tuesday trip along with Wilson Gregory's Cobia, the first one landed on the Gulf State Park Pier in 2014

Friday, March 21, 2014

Orange Beach Fishing Report for 2/28-3/20/14--- Spring bite starting to happen

I waited on reporting until things changed a bit just top break up the monotony of the "spring transition". This winter certainly delayed things a bit this year. Water temps had remained well below average throughout February and most of March. This past week saw a change for the better with a warmer forecast and rising water temperatures. Spanish Mackerel have started showing up and the Sheepshead have begun their spring spawning cycle. Some Pompano were caught this past week as well. We still have a little bit of time left until the Cobia show up but it won't be long. For now, here is a break down of what has happened in the past week along with a forecast:

The fishing around Perdido Pass turned on like a light switch just over a week ago. Water temperatures rose into the low to mid 60s and the Sheepshead finally turned on. Pretty much any structure near the pass will be holding good numbers of Sheepies and live fiddler crabs are the top bait. You can also catch them on live shrimp, sand fleas and ghost shrimp. Fish these baits either right on bottom or suspended from a slip float set at the desired depth.

Along with the Sheepshead, the Pass has had very good numbers of Redfish. Most have been taken while targeting Sheepshead but some have had good luck fishing from the East side of Perdido Pass from the beach using cut mullet and live shrimp. Anglers fishing for both Sheeshead and Redfish are starting to take Pompano in better numbers too.

On the beachfront, Whiting catches are still slow, but the Pompano are starting to show up and I've seen a few fish over the 3lb mark caught in the past two weeks. Most are being taken on Sand Fleas.

Offshore, we are still seeing good action with most bottom fish. Pelagics like King Mackerel and Wahoo are still a no-show, but it won't be long until the first Kings are caught. Look for water temps 68 degrees and above for good kingfishing. All bottom are open with exception to the following: Red Snapper, Gag Grouper and any Shallow Water Groupers (Scamp, Red, Black, Yellowfin) cannot be harvested past the twenty fathom (120ft) line.

The Tuna fishing has picked up a good bit. Its still a long haul to get to the fish most days but very well worth it for those willing to make the long haul. Chunking has been the best method by far along with live baiting. Keep a rod rigged with a cable leader setup for the off-chance a Mako Shark shows up in your chunk line. There have been good numbers of Makos caught in the past two weeks including some fish over 600lbs.

I've been fishing a couple days a week, primarily for bottom fish. Most days have seen a good bite on Vermillion Snapper and Triggerfish along with a variety of other species. I've been targeting fish on natural bottom areas in 90-180ft and using both dead baits of squid and bonito along with various jigs. Most of our better fish are coming off of large bucktail and soft plastic jigs. On Monday, March 2, I was running to some spots about 8-9 miles offshore and came across a large school of Bonito on the surface. I slowed down so we could have some fun with them on lighter gear and as we approached we learned it was not bonito but actually Amberjack that were balling small baitfish on the surface! We caught several AJs on spinning and fly tackle before they went down. It was very cool to see that many Amberjack on the surface.

Over the next two weeks the fishing is going to make a hard transition. Expect water temps to warm up rapidly and possibly hit the 70 degree mark by the first week of April. The Cobia will make a strong showing about that time along with King Mackerel. The Pompano bite on the beach should be in full gear by then as well. The Speckled Trout will be thicker in the lower bays as well.

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

Friday, February 28, 2014

Orange Beach Fishing Report for 2/21-2/27/14--- We're almost there!

The days have been much warmer on average (this morning was an exception, 29 degrees at my house) and the fishing is really starting to pick up.

The Sheepshead will be spawning soon with inland and beach water temps now staying in the low 60s. The big aggregates of Sheepshead have really made a showing this week on inshore structures. Pre-spawn sheepies are usually hungry and can be caught fairly easily with live fiddler crabs, shrimp, sand fleas and ghost shrimp. Most types of bottom rigs will work as well as free-lining baits in low current areas. The average Sheepshead will run anywhere from 1-4lbs but larger fish up to 10lbs or so may be taken. When fishing bridge pilings and piers, use moderately heavy inshore gear to keep fish out of the structures. I usually fish a 2ft leader of 20lb mono or fluorocarbon with a short shanked hook for Sheepshead and judge my weight size on the current. using slip floats along deeper structure is also very productive on fish that may be suspended.

Other inshore targets right now include Speckled and White trout, Redfish and Flounder. The trout fishing is still fairly slow, but as water temps rise back into the mid 60s the fish will move out of the rivers and creeks and into the open waters of the coastal bays. Fish will usually focus on drop-offs, deeper grass beds and points. Live shrimp or croakers are usually the ticket on springtime specks. Using slip floats rigged at different depths is a good game plan for locating trout during this transition. I also like to put a bait out either free-lined or with a single split shot. Expect Redfish, Black Drum, Sheepshead and others as a common by-catch while trout fishing.

In the surf, the Whiting bite has been slow, but there are still some being caught. There were a few Pompano caught off of Perdido Key last weekend which is a great sign. Watch the water temps on the beach and get your surf gear ready. Once the water reaches 64 degrees or so, Pompano will be a reliable target/ Sand Fleas and Ghost Shrimp will work best for most surf species this month.

There is plenty of action to be had offshore right now when weather permits. Red Snapper and Gag Grouper are closed and shallow water grouper species (Scamp, Red, Black, Yellowfin) are closed outside of the 20 fathom line (120ft). You may harvest shallow water grouper species inside of 20 fathoms. All other bottom species are open for fishing including Amberjack, all other species of Snapper besides Red, Tilefish, Triggerfish and many others.

I got my boat-work wrapped up in time to head offshore late Tuesday morning with my friend Tommy Foreman of Orange Beach and one of my longtime customers and fishing buddy Doug Bean from Iowa. The game plan was to fish for Vermillion Snapper and Amberjack on deeper natural bottom areas and then hit some shallower stuff for Triggerfish and hopefully a Scamp or two. We started out jigging for Amberjack and they ate every lure we dropped. They weren't monsters, but there were plenty of them and they were fun as always. Doug got the bonus fish of the day while we were jigging; a 20lb Blackfin Tuna.

After jigging we dropped some baited rigs and loaded the box with Vermillion Snapper and Red Porgy (White Snapper). The bite was slow at first, but picked up towards the afternoon. Some of the Vermillions were a good size as well, with a few over the 4lb mark and most exceeding 3lbs. After we got our fill there, we headed in and hit some Triggerfish spots. The Triggers weren't huge but all were keepers and at one point Tommy dropped a jig and scored a nice Scamp. All in all it was a very nice day and sea conditions were as flat as it gets.

Praying for nice weather this week. I plan on fishing Sunday through Wednesday if it cooperates.

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

Friday, February 21, 2014

Orange Beach Fishing Report For 2/14-2/20/14

Spring is just around the corner and it's beginning to feel a little more comfortable outside. The fishing has improved inshore and offshore and a couple more weeks of mild weather will really turn things back on.

The Sheepshead, Redfish and Flounder bit pretty well this past weekend. Plenty of big Sheepshead were caught around Perdido Pass and in the coastal bays. Live Fiddler crabs are still the top bait as well as live shrimp. Flounder are being taken in decent numbers off of the Gulf State Park Pier and around the jetties and seawall at Perdido pass. Live bull minnows and various soft plastic lures are best. The Redfish have been more of a bycatch while targeting other species but they are in good enough numbers to target. Most have been taken on live shrimp or fiddler crabs while Sheepshead fishing.

The surf fishing is still relatively slow. Two more weeks of mild weather will pick it back up. Expect Pompano to show up within the next three weeks. There are still good numbers of Whiting biting though. Use small pieces of shrimp.

The beautiful weather we had over the weekend and into the early part of the week was the window many were waiting for. The bite was a little slower due to a very full moon, but there were still some very nice catches hitting the docks. The Amberjack were the main exception. They bit very well on structures in 160-300ft on both live and artificial baits. Jigging provided a lot of fast fishing for many crews. Both metal jigs and large, soft plastic grubs got the nod.

The Triggerfish were a little slow along with Vermillion Snapper but persistence paid on natural bottom areas in 120-200ft.

Not many boats made it out to the rigs for Tuna so I don't have a report from the SW.

I'm on the final leg of getting my boat stuff squared away for the season, but I did make it out on Sunday with two very good customers of ours, Dr Kearley and his wife Edie. We stopped at a spot in 200ft for some fun with Amberjack first. They were ready to play and we scored some nice AJs using 5-8oz, butterfly-style jigs. After that we went searching for some new spots for Golden Tilefish, one of my favorites in the eating department. The full moon had me a little nervous but even with the slow bite we managed to put a few in the box for dinner.

We will see what happens this week.

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

Golden Tilefish from Sunday

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Orange Beach Fishing Report For 2/7-2/13/14

I guess you could say it was more of the same this past week BUT we did actually have some nice weather windows and that created the opportunity for some offshore action as well as a pickup with the inshore bite.

For one, the water crept up to 58 degrees inshore and near 60 in some areas. The Sheepshead were finally moving in decent numbers along with some flounder and trout. Most Sheepshead were caught in and around Perdido Pass. Fiddler Crabs were the bait of choice.

I talked to a couple visiting anglers who caught some Flounder on the Gulf State Park Pier and along the seawall at Perdido Pass. They caught their flatfish on bull minnows and on curltail grubs.

The Whiting bite remained OK over the past week but nothing like it was prior to the last few fronts. Expect it to pick back up over the next couple weeks with less severe fronts on the forecast.

Offshore, the deep drop bite was pretty solid with Snowy and Yellowedge Grouper, Barrelfish and Golden Tilefish. The best grouper bite seemed to be in 550-600ft and Tiles juts a bit deeper. Remember that all shallow water groupers (Scamp, Black, Red, Gag) are prohibited for harvest outside of the 20 fathom line until 4/1/14.

The Tuna bite was decent to the SW closer to the river mouth and also at some of the rigs in the 120+ mile range. Chunking was the best method although a good number of fish were taken jigging and by throwing topwater poppers. The Yellowfin may be fickle right now, but the Blackfin are as thick as it gets. Jigs will take plenty around the rigs at night.

I fished a couple days inshore this past week. Most of my time was spent fishing docks for Flounder and Sheepshead. Both were found but I had the most fun sight casting to Sheepshead around pilings in and around the various boat docks in Bayou St John and Terry's Cove. Live fiddler crabs were by far the best baits. I fished them on short, 15lb leaders and short shank, #2 hooks with just a small split shot or no-weight at all. Some of the Sheepshead were in the 4-5lb range but most were 1-3lbs.

I should have an offshore trip or two this coming week. Hopefully the weather will work out and allow it!

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

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Orange Beach Fishing Report For 1/25-2/6/14

You can sum up this winter with one word; Tough!

The fishing has certainly taken a hit from the low temperatures and rough waters. water temps in the local bays remain in the mid 50s and just above that on the beaches. Offshore, you'll have to put a number of miles behind you just to reach the mid 60s. It is certainly cold compared to the average water temps for this time of year, but it shouldn't discourage you from getting out on the nicer days.

The inshore bite has been slow, but you can work up a decent stringer of Speckled Trout by fishing the creeks and mid-stretches of the coastal rivers. The specks are going to be deep and using live baits like shrimp or small finger mullet along with slowly worked soft plastics will score on the lethargic trout. Warmer days may see some trout moving into the shallows, but the best bet is to stay deep and work baits slowly.

Sheepshead have moved in but it'll be a couple more weeks before the masses swarm around inshore structure in preparation for the spring spawn. We will need the water temperatures to creep back into the low to mid 60s to see the spawning aggregations. At that time, they will be feeding heavily ahead of the spawn and baits of shrimp and fiddler crabs will produce. For targeting Sheepshead in the current conditions. Fish deeper areas like the passes, bridge pilings and the Gulf State Park Pier.

In the surf, The whiting bite slowed down a bit with this past weeks cold front, but the bite will improve over the next two weeks as water temps slowly creep back up. The same patterns and baits that have worked throughout the winter will continue to work. Small pieces of shrimp and ghost shrimp will be best fished in the deeper parts of the trough and just beyond the outer bar. Pompano catches have been rare but Black Drum and Redfish continue to be a welcomed bycatch by most surf fishing for Whiting and Redfish can be targeted by fishing fresh, cut mullet in the surf and around Perdido Pass.

Offshore, shallow water grouper season closed on the 1st, leaving Amberjack, Triggerfish and all species of Snappers minus Red Snapper open. The bottom fishing this time of year is generally very good, but I do not have many recent reports as of this time due to the past two weeks sea condition.

A few crews have made the longer runs in pursuit of Tuna and Wahoo and have been rewarded with some nice catches but the average run has been in excess of 90 miles to get in on the action. Still, crews willing will find good action to the rigs to the southwest and for those wanting Wahoo, focus on the rigs in 500-800ft.

I have done a little bit of surf fishing for Whiting over the past couple weeks but have mostly spent this slower time getting the boat ready for the upcoming season. I'm planning on doing some inshore fishing this week though and will report again next week.

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

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Orange Beach Fishing Report for 01/13-22/14

OK, the holidays and vacations are over and it time to get back to regular fishing reports!

January has actually felt like January with much lower average temperatures than the past two years. What this also means is that the water temps have been lower as well. Inland waterways for the past week have stayed around the mid to low 50s and the temps on the beach have hovered around 57-58. Colder temps have kept the Speckled Trout in the rivers and creeks along with some smaller Redfish and Sheepshead. Live Shrimp suspended from slip float rigs have been very productive as have soft plastic lures and Mirrolure MR18s when worked slowly in deeper channels and river bends. On warmer days, expect the trout to move onto shallower flats adjacent to the deeper channels. When they move into the shallows, topwaters, suspending twitchbaits and popping cork/shrimp combos will work well.

In the surf, the Pompano bite has been slow due to colder water but the Whiting bite has been outstanding! Fishing with cut shrimp or Ghost Shrimp has been best. Fish bait on the bottom in the first trough. Using a lighter weight with your rigs allows more action and has been very productive. The most common bycatch has been Redfish and Black Drum as well as a few Sheepshead.

Offshore, all bottom species are open with the exception of Red Snapper and Gag Grouper and winter is a very good time to bottom fish as many species move in shallower during cooler periods. Natural bottom areas like the Trysler Grounds and Edge have produced some nice catches of Amberjack, Vermillion Snapper, Triggerfish, Scamp and Red Grouper. Most artificial structures will hold AJs and Triggers as well. All deep water groupers are open as well and a day of deep dropping is always worth the time.

The Tuna bite has been good, but a decent distance to the average boater. Ram Powell is a good starting point but Horn Mountain, Nakika and a few others have been the hotspots. Chunking has been the dominant method, but trolling small ballyhoo is another good option.

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