I have had the pleasure to drop a line in waters around the world, but my visit to the Alabama Gulf Shores and Orange Beach delivered a menagerie of fish and fishing options in just one visit that truly impressed me. I connected with my friend Kay Maghan and my hosts with the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism to see for myself why anglers love this area.
Let’s start with the fish. During my deep-sea trip withReel Surprise Charters, we traveled more than 20 miles out into the Gulf fishing at a depth of 115-feet. Our bait of choice was cut squid which we dropped to the bottom at each location.
Throughout the evening, we pulled in more speckled trout (which have rather vicious front fangs, by the way), redfish and even a stingray. When midnight approached, catfish were the only species hitting, which meant it was time to pack up and head for home. Captain Young says once the catfish start biting, your chances of landing anything else are slim because conditions have changed.
The day of our scheduled trip, theweather did not cooperate, but Intercoastal Safaris owner, Stephen Lee, arranged a backup option that was impressive. We stayed inshore to target redfish.
One giant redfish after another took our shrimp bait and put up fights. It was exciting action after a slow start to the day. The ice chest could barely hold our catch, and luck was on our side. The drama in the boat culminated with a monster redfish that hooked onto my line and struggled with me as I tried to wrestle it out from under the boat. In one final straw, the enormous fish switched directions and instantly shattered my rod into three parts.Desperate, Captain Aaron and I started grabbing the line, hoping as a last ditch effort we could land the fish, but it didn’t happen.
Many restaurants in the area prepare Hook & Cook meals, which is just what it sounds like – you hook it and they cook it. Kay and I took our load of redfish and black snapper to Shipp’s Harbour Grill where they prepared it for us gourmet-style and presented it on a platter complete with sides of green beans and mashed potatoes.
The triggerfish that we caught deep-sea fishing we took to the Flora-Bama Yacht Club with friends (we had a LOT of fish!) where they prepared our meals Mediterranean style, fried and baked.
If fishing from the boat is not for you, head to the Gulf Shores State Park Pier, where the local anglers hangout. You can rent tackle for the day. I spent a day there just watching the scene unfold accented by pelicans competing for incoming fish and the occasional shark beaching the water.