Fish We Catch On Alabama's Gulf Coast
Red Snapper in Orange Beach/Gulf Shores, Alabama:
Red Snapper is the most plentiful of all snapper species in the northern Gulf of Mexico. They are found around shallow water artificial reefs all the way out to deep bottom structures such as oil rigs and pipelines. If there are structures on the bottom of the gulf, there is a good chance that Red Snapper are not far away. Red Snapper are fun to catch and offer anglers a chance to catch one tough fish that puts up one heck of a fight when hooked.
Red Snapper are usually 3 to 10 pounds average with some as large 30 pounds. Red Snapper is excellent grilled, baked or fried.
Red Snapper season changes annually. The limit is two per person and they must be 16 inches long in order to keep them. The Gulf Red Snapper off Orange Beach and Gulf Shores are usually 18 to 20 inches long.
Gag Grouper in Orange Beach/Gulf Shores, Alabama:
Gag Grouper is found mostly in the Gulf of Mexico. They used to be very abundant but have been overfished to the point of where they are tough to catch. Gag Grouper are found around shallow water reefs; but, most are in deep water near rocks and ledges. Gags are fun to catch. The Gag Grouper are usually 5 to 10 pounds average in weight; but, if you get real lucky, a 30 to 40 pounder is out there.
Gulf Gag Grouper are a white meat and the texture is semi soft. It tastes better than Red Snapper. It is good undercooked a bit. You don't want to cook Gag Grouper to the point where it flakes apart. It is excellent grilled, baked or fried. If you fry grouper, you are missing out on the succulent flavor of a fine eating fish.
Amberjack in Orange Beach/Gulf Shores, Alabama:
Amberjack is also known as the Greater Amberjack and is caught on mostly large structures and reefs in the Gulf of Mexico. They offer a great fight for even the toughest angler.
The average size of an Amberjack is about 15 to 18 pounds. There are a lot of 20 to 25 pounders. These fish can grow up to close to 100 pounds.
Amberjack is a good fish to eat and has a firm texture to its meat. It is good cooked on the grill. Do not over cook it. It becomes rubbery if you grill too long. As with any fish, you may fry it. It is good either way.
There is a bag limit of one Amberjack per person, per day in the Gulf of Mexico. They have to be 30 inches at the fork length to keep them. An Amberjack over 20 pounds is usually legal and can be kept.
Gray Trigger Fish Orange Beach/Gulf Shores, Alabama:
Gray Triggerfish is an excellent small fish that is making a come back in the Gulf Of Mexico. They can be caught all over the Gulf and are usually found around artificial reefs and natural structures. They average about 2 to 3 pounds each and can be up to 8 pounds. We have seen some that weigh over 10 pounds, but that is not common. Gulf Triggerfish fight very hard and can be caught two at a time while bottom fishing.
Gulf Gray Triggerfish is an excellent fish to grill or fry. They have a firm, white meat and for many years, were considered trash fish by fishermen. That was because they did not want their customers to take them home with them.
Vermilion snapper is the most frequently caught snapper along the southeastern United States. They are very similar in appearance to their larger cousin, the red snapper. They have streamlined bodies which are pale to silver white below and vermilion (orange-red) above. They have narrow, yellow-gold streaks (some horizontal and others oblique) below the lateral line. The dorsal fin is rosy colored with a yellow edge. The caudal fin is red with a faint black edge.
Vermilion snapper inhabit depths of 59 to 400 feet but are most abundant at depths less than 180 feet.
Cobia in Orange Beach/Gulf Shores, Alabama:
Cobia, a.k.a. Ling, Crab-eater and lemon fish, come through Alabama waters during the months of March and April of each year. They are a migratory fish that can be huge. During the migration, they swim from the east, heading west. They are just off the beaches and can be caught sight fishing close to shore. During the gulf summer fishing season, they settle on artificial and natural reefs. They weigh an average of 20 to 30 pounds each. A big one would be over 60 pounds. Cobia have been known to be over 90 pounds. They offer even the most experienced anglers a good fight that can sometimes last over 30 minutes.
Cobia are very good to eat. They are a firm meat that is excellent grilled, blackened or fried.
Blackfin Tuna in Orange Beach/Gulf Shores, Alabama:
Blackfin Tuna are abundant further offshore on deep water oil rigs. They are a great fish to catch while jigging. They offer even the toughest anglers a chance to fight a fish that digs real hard and tries to get down to the bottom. They are caught mostly on over night trips or trips that get you out over 60 miles to Alabama's nearest deep water gulf oil rigs.
The average size of a Blackfin tuna is 15 pounds. There are also some that get close to 25 to 30 pounds. The gulf Blackfin are a good fish to eat. Their meat is a little dark and bloody looking, but don't let that fool you. They are good grilled or pan seared or even eaten raw sushi style.
Wahoo in Orange Beach/Gulf Shores, Alabama:
Wahoo is one of the most prized migratory fish you can catch in Alabama. The Wahoo are considered one of the fastest fish in the Ocean, next to the sail fish. Wahoo are usually caught in blue water or water that is over 150 feet deep or deeper.
They weigh on average 20 pounds each. We occasionally catch a Wahoo that is over 50 pounds. We have seen them go over a 100 pounds. They fight like crazy when hooked. Most are caught while trolling lures behind the boat. Wahoo are a great fish to eat. They have white, flaky meat. You should not over cook them. They are better tasting when grilled or blackened. You may fry if you like, but you will be sacrificing the flavor.
King Mackerel in Orange Beach/Gulf Shores, Alabama:
King Mackerel are a migratory fish that usually stay in waters whose temperature is above 70 degrees. They are plentiful during the summer months. They can be caught right off the Alabama coast line on short trips and are commonly caught further offshore near reefs and structures. They can be caught on a drift line while bottom fishing and on lures while trolling.
King Mackerel are good for smoking and the food quality is ok. It is an oily fish and does not do good when frozen and then thawed and cooked. King Mackerel taste better when grilled or blackened. It is ok fried.
Spanish mackerel is found off the Atlantic coast of the U.S. and in the Gulf of Mexico. The Spanish mackerel is much smaller than its relative, the king mackerel. Spanish mackerel have a greenish back with silver sides and belly. Yellow or olive green oval spots traverse the body, which is covered with very tiny scales.
Spanish mackerel prefer temperatures above 68° F. They mostly live in open water but are sometimes found over deep grass beds and reefs, as well as in shallow estuaries.
Yellowfin Tuna in Orange Beach/Gulf Shores, Alabama:
Yellowfin Tuna is one of the best fish to target on longer, overnight fishing trips that depart from Alabama. The Yellowfin are usually caught more than 60 miles offshore around large oil rigs or in deep blue water. They have been known to move more than 200 miles in a single day. They offer anglers the chance to fight a tough fish. They are caught trolling and chunking during the day and night. The best fishing is usually just before daybreak.
Yellowfin Tuna is one of the best fish you can ever eat. However, they do not freeze well. The meat is a dark pink in the loin section and is used for sushi all over the world. The best way to cook Yellowfin is to grill or sear it. Do not over cook it. It is best eaten when the center is rare and the outside is lightly cooked.
Great Barracuda in Orange Beach/Gulf Shores, Alabama:
Barracuda is a common fish in Alabama. It can best be found on larger, steel structures near the Alabama coast line. They are 10 to 20 pounds each and offer a real good fight for those who want to fight a true game fish. They have the most horrific set of teeth you will ever see and are caught mostly on live bait and trolling.
They are usually not good to eat. In south Florida, they are often toxic.
Dorado, Mahi-Mahi and Dolphin Fish in Orange Beach/Gulf Shores, Alabama:
No matter what you call them, the Dolphin fish is one of the best fighting game fish in the Gulf of Mexico. They can be caught during the summer months in Alabama along rip lines or floating debris. Large dolphins can weigh up to 80 pounds. The average Dolphin fish weighs about 2 to 10 pounds each. They offer even the best anglers a lot of action and almost always jump up in the air, shaking their heads trying to get away. Closer to shore, you may find the small ones that are called chicken dolphins. They are a blast to catch, right on the surface around the boat.
The Gulf Dolphin are some of the best fish to eat. They have a firm texture that is excellent grilled or blackened. Do not fry. You will be wasting a good cut of meat.
ATLANTIC SAILFISH: Waters: Gulf wide. North Gulf in summer. Locations: Blue water roamer. Size: 30 to 60 pounds average, large 80 pounds For Eating: Very Good (mostly smoked). The Prize: Unsurpassed for the spectacular “tail dance”. Though often short lived, the acrobatic show is truly magnificent!
BLUE MARLIN:Waters: Deep blue waters. Locations: Free-roamer (often along deep canyons) Size: 160-350 pounds average, large 600 pounds For Eating: None. Mostly caught and released. The Prize: The biggest of all big-game billfish. Strength, power and stamina (need I say more). Note: Makes a beautiful wall mount.
WHITE MARLIN: Waters: Blue waters. Locations: Free-roamer. Will venture into shallow offshore waters. Size: 40 to 60 pounds average, large 100 pounds For Eating: None, mostly caught and released. The Prize: Fights like a small Blue Marlin. Leaps more than the blue but less than the Dolphin. Note: Makes a beautiful wall mount.
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