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
251-981-4245
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
251-981-4245
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
251-981-4245
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
251-981-4245
27122 Canal Rd
Orange Beach, Al 36561