With spring halfway through and summer creeping in, Alabama anglers are celebrating all throughout the state: It’s fishing season, y’all.
There are all kinds of Alabama finfish in our Gulf Coast waters that are worth of a delicious meal—Red Snapper, Grouper, Flounder, Mahi-Mahi, you name it. And if you reel one in yourself, they taste just a little bit better, don’t they?
But when it comes to the sportsmanship of inshore and offshore fishing, sometimes improving anglers are looking for a bit of a challenge. Thankfully, there are several Alabama fish that will really put up a fight—and they’ll look pretty nice on your wall of trophies, too.
If you think you’re ready for the toughest sportfish on the Gulf Coast, here’s a checklist of the top targets to pursue.
You’ve probably seen Amberjack on seafood restaurant menu plenty of times. And if you’ve enjoyed a plate of Amberjack, you ought to thank the fisherman.
Some call them “sea donkeys” because of how hard they’ll pull on a line; further down the Gulf of Mexico, they call them “pez fuerte,” which translates to “strong fish.” And while they average between 20 and 40 pounds, the big ones will get up to about 6 feet long and 150 pounds. That’s like having another person pulling against you!
There’s a reason Blue Marlin is one of the most popular fish to feature on a trophy wall. There are whole tournaments dedicated to this colossal catch, like the Blue Marlin Grand Championship in Orange Beach, where anglers will show off Blue Marlins weighing 1000 pounds or more. (Now that’s a big fish!)
Cobia typically measures up around 20 to 50 pounds, but they can get up to 100 pounds or more. And they generally love to throw their weight around, too.
These fish will fight hard once they’ve been hooked, and they’ve got great stamina for long, fast runs. What’s more, they tend to swim near the surface, which means you can go after them using techniques like chumming (putting cut fish in the water to create a scent) or sight fishing (spotting the fish in the water and casting to get its attention).
That’s right, folks, we catch and cook sharks here on the Gulf Coast. If you’re afraid of these nautical predators, perhaps a fishing trip is the best way to face your fears.
Here in Alabama, we’ve got several kinds of sharks, like the Bull Shark, the Tiger Shark, the Mako Shark, and the Blacktip Shark. Once you’ve hooked one of these monsters, it’ll be a game of tug-of-war, but patient and steady anglers could wind up with a real beauty on their hands. Just make sure you play it safe—shark bites are no joke!
The Tarpon is Alabama’s Official State Saltwater Fish! You might not’ve known that, though, seeing as we don’t eat them (too many bones and subpar meat).
But when it comes to sportfishing, the Tarpon lives up to its stately title. This fish is a popular target for anglers not only because it fights back, but because of how frequently they’ll jump out of shallow water when you’re reeling them in. If you want some spectacle with your fishing trip, look no further.
Tuna is one of the most popular species of Gulf seafood thanks to its versatility, from steaks to sashimi. But they’re quite a challenge when it comes to reeling them in, making them popular for anglers and diners alike.
Blackfin Tuna will typically weigh in up to 40 pounds and 3 feet long, but Yellowfin Tuna reach monstrous sizes of 400 pounds and 6 feet long. On top of that, they’ve got tremendous speed and amazing eyesight. If you get a Yellowfin on your hook, hold on and enjoy the ride.
“Wahoo” didn’t get its name because that’s what you yell when you hook one—but it might as well have. In fact, your reel will scream too when you hook one of these fish, because Wahoo swim at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour.
You might want to try methods like high-speed trolling if you want to keep up with Wahoo; they’re also known to be attracted to brightly colored lures. Be prepared, though, because like the Tarpon, these fish are known for leaping high into the air when they’re on the line.
With the noted exception of Tarpon and Blue Marlin, there’s one last step when it comes to catching each of these impressive sportfish: Cook ‘em! Reeling these fish in is fun, but the eating is the best part.
If you need recipes, we’ve got a few of those, too. Browse over 140 recipes for fish, shrimp, crab, and oysters to make your next meal a good one.