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