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