Alabama Gulf Seafood isn’t just about the unique preparation or the immaculate taste—it’s also about the thrill of the catch.
Alabama’s charter boat industry is a thriving enterprise along the Gulf Coast. Whether you’re looking to take an intimate fishing trip with your family or join a boat full of other folks looking to hook a few trophy fish, a charter boat excursion is one of the most exciting and memorable activities you’ll find along the beach.
“Fishing is the perfect activity to spend quality time with friends and family,” said Captain Ben Fairey, a 40-year charter boat veteran and captain of the Necessity. “The Northern Gulf of Mexico has some of the best fishing found in the U.S.A.”
You might think that these seasoned charter boat captains pack up their operations and hibernate during the wintertime. But you’d be wrong.
In fact, a charter boat trip during the wintertime is a different experience altogether.
“When we experience cooler weather, we usually have a north wind,” said Captain Don McPherson, captain of the Getaway and Another Getaway. “This wind is blocked by land and condos along the nearshore waters, which creates nice calm seas. The popular bull redfish love cooler weather, and guess where they are found? That’s right, nearshore waters.”
The redfish (known formally as Red Drum) is one of the more popular catches along the coast year-round, and the wintertime is when redfish are at their seasonal peak. “Wintertime redfishing on our beaches during certain conditions gives the anglers the chance to see vast schools of redfish feeding on the surface,” said Fairey.
As McPherson points out, we aren’t the only species excited for redfish season though. “It is also awesome to see birds diving into a school of bait as hundreds of bull redfish come to the surface as they chase bait fish,” said McPherson.
But these fish can be rather elusive at times as well. Even when it’s chilly, it’s important to be patient.
“You may see over one hundred redfish in a school, you may catch over a dozen redfish or you may spend much of your charter searching for the redfish,” McPherson said. “These fish move around. Once you do find the redfish, the reward can be absolutely awesome.”
While redfish are the big highlight for winter charter fishing, there are plenty of other fish to see and catch. Amberjack, Vermillion Snapper, Triggerfish and nearshore Seatrout are all big targets for cold-weather anglers.
And, as McPherson points out, there’s plenty of other wildlife to see on a charter boat expedition. Sea turtles and dolphins may make an appearance in the water, and overhead, you’re almost guaranteed to see plenty of seagulls and possibly a pelican or two.
The most important piece of advice for anyone on a wintertime charter boat adventure is perhaps the most obvious: stay warm.
“Bring layered clothing as the temperatures may be mild or chilly,” McPherson advises. “Most of the boats have heating if you need to warm up.”
There are plenty of ways to warm up your winter if you’re vacationing along Alabama’s Gulf Coast. Even if the temperatures begin to drop, it’s always a good time to throw on a coat, grab a rod and reel, and hit the high seas on a charter fishing expedition.