Winter Charter Boat Fishing with Chris Garner of High Cotton Charters

When the temperatures drop, we’re all tempted to hibernate until March. But then we’d miss out on the beautiful Gulf bounty that is wintertime charter boat fishing.

We spoke to Chris Garner of High Cotton Charters in Orange Beach about why the cold weather is a wonderful time to take a deep sea fishing trip along Alabama’s Gulf Coast—and cook up what you catch. Here’s what he had to say.

Most people don’t think of winter as charter boat weather. Why should everyone give winter charter boat fishing a try?

Actually, it’s a great time to come charter fishing. There’s not a lot of folks in town, and when you get a good weather window (which we get plenty of), you can fish on short notice. And all of the fish that we catch are back open, like Amberjack, Triggerfish—they all open up January 1, so it’s a great time.

What are your favorite Gulf fish to catch during the wintertime?

I like to catch Triggerfish, B-Liners (which is a Vermillion Snapper), and Amberjack are probably my favorites. And I always like to go offshore and try to catch Tuna when we have trips that are long enough.

What are your favorite Gulf fish to cook and eat during the wintertime?

I like to eat Amberjack when they come in; I like to grill them with salt, pepper, garlic, and grill them on an open-flame grill or a charbroil grill.

Lots of people don’t consider winter to be “seafood season.” What would you recommend fresh at a local restaurant or market to change their minds?

Oh, it really is seafood season! I would say probably the best fish to eat are Grouper, Vermillion Snapper, or Triggerfish are some of my favorites. Trigger is probably one of the lesser-known fish that is really pretty good.

It’s January, so lots of folks are working on their New Year’s resolutions. Are there any species or particular dishes that you would recommend for healthy eating?

Absolutely. Grilled fish with salt, pepper, garlic, and then I’d top it with a chutney or a salsa, like a mango salsa. Those are my favorite dishes to eat for sure, and it’s very healthy.

What other wintertime activities do you enjoy on the Coast?

Well, we always have the dolphins. And we have some events like the Christmas Parade and the Mardi Gras Parade, that’s a lot of fun. And just plain cruising on the beachfront is a lot of fun, going sight-seeing.