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