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Recent entries


Lake Doctor

Gulf Shores, Alabama Red Snapper Fishery

Mon, June 09, 2014

Saying life has been a little crazy lately would definitely be an understatement. Shew boy it has been quite the whirlwind. In response to the chaos, and at the worst possible moment during the year, my brothers and I decided to jump ship and head south on a getaway fishing trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama.

We left our friends, families and jobs on Friday afternoon, May 30th and didnt have a return date. We had all been working 80-100 hr weeks since March and needed to get away for some down time. There is no better place than on the Ocean to reconnect and get rejuvenated!!

Red Snapper season opened up down in Alabama on Sunday, June 1st so our timing couldnt have been more perfect in that regard….. Alabama doesnt have any natural structure for Red Snapper and many other similar bottom fish, so they have spent 100’s of millions of dollars over the last 20 years building AMAZING habitat in their waters!

Im talking over 17,000 artificial reefs that consist of bridge rubble, culverts, habitat pyramids, army tanks, and barges have been strategically placed off their coast from 3-40 miles out all in a grid…. for a fish guy like me, this is super impressive! Everybody in the whole Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Fort Morgan, and Mobil areas has pitched in and have been working together creating this fishery. Pretty much all the businesses in the entire area have pitched in and sponsored various reefs and habitat projects…. banks, hotels, condos, bait shops, grocery stores, souvenir shops, marinas, restaurants, and pretty much any business you can think of have joined together to create perhaps the most impressive man made fishery in the Ocean.

They all joined together and made something amazing out of pretty much absolutely nothingness. The reason they did this was to attract fisherman and their families to come down and spend a week or two every year in their community. Their plan was working great, until the Federal Government stepped in and is on the verge of crushing everything they have worked so hard creating.

You see right now there are more and bigger fish off of alabama’s coast than ever before in their history and the Federal Govt over the past few years has restricted their fishing seasons to almost non-existence due to declining numbers of fish populations 100’s and 1000’s of miles away….. Get this, Alabama has done one of best management jobs ever and they only get 9 days this year to harvest their fish…. yep, you heard me right; just 9 days out of the whole year to utilize what they have spent 100’s of millions and 20 years creating…...

Just a couple years ago the season was 6 months, then reduced to 40 days, and now this year is the biggest slap in the face at a whopping 9 day season. There are more and bigger snapper in Alabama than ever before. I spent a week down there and you couldnt not catch a snapper if you tried. If I lived in Alabama and was part of creating this fishery for the betterment of the whole community and I had the federal government trying to manage and sabotage what I just helped create I would be sick to my stomach.

 The federal government is punishing Alabama for the sins of Florida and Texas and Commercial fisherman. Those fish have absolutely nothing to do with the fishery in Alabama…. Everything about the federal government managing this situation is inefficient, outdated and very costly to the hardworking people who have made something very special but cannot utilize it….

Here is a sneak peak of a big red snapper:

Here in Illinois we have some really dumb rules, but nothing even close to the injustice of what Alabama is going through. Here we can build a lake and buy fish for stocking into it, but we can only legally harvest 6 bass per day out of it. Even if we just bought the fish and put them into our own private lake we can still only harvest 6 per day… to me rules like that are just plain ignorant. But I can live with ignorance of that magnitude, what I could not live with is the ignorance of the magnitude of whats happening in Alabama….

So anyhow here is what is happening in Alabama. We downloaded the gps coordinates to their list of reefs, we headed down and gave many of their local businesses our money in exchange for food, fuel, bait, and lodging and we went out fishing in our little carolina skiff every day. Oh yeah, on our way out of town we even stopped in and grabbed some souvenirs for our children back home…

Anyhow, we caught amazing fish at every single reef we pulled up to. In fact, they were so loaded with fish that we would have 100’s of snappers right below our boat just by throwing out a few chunks of bonito or cigar minnows. We were light tackle fishing monster bottom fish!!

We were trying out some new Fin-Nor saltwater rod and reel combos and just out having a blast every day reeling in these fish.

We also had several really cool up close encounters with big sea turtles, dolphins and various sharks. We even caught almost an 8 foot shark! Here is a still shot pulled from a video.. Hopefully will post the video soon….

We were kinda supposed to come home around Wednesday, but we decided to stay to the utmost maximum time possible which was Friday afternoon. We were fortunate to fish for 6 of their whopping 9 day season….

Next year if they even have a season, we will definitely be back! Now its back to work and time to get stuff done. I have never been more anxious to get back rockin and rollin. I feel the alabama fishing situation is just an overall good example for what can be created with good management (on many levels) as long as we can manage what we have created with minimal interference.

We can also relate here in Illinois because overall we are a pretty worthless fishing state, but with good management we are making something out of nothing and starting to turn some heads just like Alabama did!!!