Today we had a six hour party boat walk-on trip. The weather was a little over cast this morning with a good breeze out of the north, along with a 2-3 ft. swell out of the south southeast. We left at our usual time of departure at 8:00 a.m. and went out to the area we fish around 20 miles on the natural bottom or rocks of coral. On our way we noticed that there was a lot of the sargasso grass on the beach and in the water. Some of it made up real nice grass lines which hold bait and then draws in other fish like dolphin, Wahoo, tuna, king mackerel and other top water fish. Wouldn’t you know it didn’t take long and there were reports from other fishermen that they had caught some black fin tuna on the weed lines while trolling out to their fishing holes. We didn’t seem to get a line out to troll, but we did get a drift line out when we stopped to fish. The mingo’s and white snapper were biting real well. After fishing a couple of places and moving around we got a big bite on the drift line and a big fish on a two hook rig at the same time. Not knowing what either fish were till the one on the two hook rig popped up did we know we had two black fin tuna on at once. I guess you could say the fellow with the two hook rig applied too much pressure and lost that one but we did manage to get the other one in the boat. As Murphy’s Law would have it the same fellow who lost the first one, hooked a second one before they got the one on the spinning rod in and he lost the second fish he hooked as well. It was pretty exiting the for several minutes to say the very least, one person going around the boat with a spinning rod and another in the back hooking up and losing them faster than you could tell what was going on. Nevertheless, we are grateful to get the one we did. Now I can’t wait till tomorrow, we’ll be ready.
Cobia Fishing Is Upon UsApril 26, 2011 in Action Charter Service, Alabama, Cobia, Fish, Fishing Report, Gulf of Mexico, Orange Beach, Perdido Pass
We are in the beginning of Cobia season and have been fishing for them. Cobias are a migratory fish that come through our area usually April and May. They are fished for by sight where you ride in a tower and look for them and then throw a lure or live bait over to catch them. They are very good to eat and usually pretty good size.
The Emerald Spirit was getting some improvements and out of the water for 52 days painting the bottom and re-doing the decks. We also put new railing all around the boat with rod holders and a place for your weights. It looks awesome and we’ll have some photos up shortly. As soon as we got in the water we did a small test run out for some Cobia for a couple of hours and saw 2 Cobia, both with other things on there mind. Then we got to go out the other day on a one-day tournament to benefit Capt. Mo Schavers who owns Mo Fishin Bait and Tackle Shop in Orange Beach, Alabama, There was a one-day tournament with half of the money generated going towards some hospital bills he had incurred so we gladly entered.
We left the dock around 6:00 a.m. and returned around 6:00 p.m. We left out of Terry Cove, through the Orange Beach Pass and fished all the way to the other side of Pensacola Beach, Florida’s fishing pier. (Yep, we’re licensed in both Alabama and Florida so we can go that way!) On the way down there we saw 2 fish that were real nervous and wouldn’t bite. Then a couple of hours later we saw another fish who was a little more interested than the first two but still not hungry. Finally we saw a good fish around 45 or 50 pounds and he was more interested in our baits than all of the other but still wouldn’t eat any thing we threw at him. We did see another fish later, but he was like the rest, not interested.
The weather was great, the sun was popping in and out of the clouds most of the day but we had a great time. I hear there are a bunch more Cobia headed this way and we will get to see soon. First we have a little getting ready for our annual United States Coast Guard (USCG) Inspection. After that you’ll be hearing from us again, hopefully with a better report about how many we put in the box.
Red Snapper Making a ComebackAugust 3, 2009 in Alabama, Fishing Report, Gulf of Mexico, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Perdido Pass
Red Snapper Making a Comeback
By DAVID RAINER
Capt. George Pfeiffer deftly maneuvered his 65-foot charter boat, Emerald Spirit, to the spot where he had deployed an artificial reef a few years before and confidently said, “Watch this.”
Mate Eric Rochester and deck hand Drew Phillips grabbed chunks of bait and tossed handfuls into the water. Within seconds, the surface of the water turned into a churning pool of red snapper eager to dine on the free meal.
“I told you,” Pfeiffer beamed.
While I’ve witnessed red snapper rising to the surface to investigate the chumming efforts of anglers, never have I seen the number and size that acted as if Pfeiffer had trained the fish in his backyard pool.
The fish performed this trick on two different spots. The first artificial reef had only been down for three years and about 15 snapper cooperated. On the second spot, the snapper numbered close to 30 or so and the size ranged from 8 to 15 pounds – an amazing spectacle.
“Red snapper are at an all-time comeback through the efforts of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS),” Pfeiffer said, paying homage to the federal entity that controls the seasons and bag limits for U.S. territorial waters. “They’ve done a wonderful job through the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Unfortunately, the data is not showing how many snapper there are out there. Otherwise, they’d give us our bag limits back.
“There are more snapper out there now, in the estimation of all the charter boat captains that I know, than there’s ever been in my lifetime and I’ve been professionally fishing for snapper for 25 years. I’m 49 years old and have lived here all my life. I build my own reefs. I’ve been fishing from Panama City to Texas. The State of Alabama through its reef-building program with the three-to-one matching funds and the cutbacks in the bag limits has caused the snapper to come back in record numbers, as we saw today. You got pictures of snapper swimming all over the top of the water – 15-pounders swimming around all over the place.”
Recreational snapper fishermen, which includes the charter boat industry, have been under severe restrictions from NMFS for several years because the aforementioned Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that bag limits and/or seasons must be restricted for any species that is overfished or where overfishing is occurring. The current bag limit is two fish 16 inches or larger and the season starts on June 1 and ends on Aug. 5. Because of the restrictions, charter captains have had to change the way they fish to keep what customers remain happy.
“What we’re doing now is being more selective in the way we’re fishing – understanding where the fish are in the water column and choosing the right kind of bait, basically a much bigger bait that a small snapper can’t even get in its mouth,” Pfeiffer said. “It forces you to be more selective about the size of snapper you catch, thus having a reduced mortality rate from the throwbacks. Of course, it increases the catch size in the box. What we do is fish up higher in the water where the bigger snapper live. The smaller fish stay close to the wreck where they know they’re protected. The bigger fish venture away from the wreck because they’re wiser and older and can survive against predators better.
“Knowing all this from scuba diving and all of my experience – we can see them on the fathometer and we can tell where they are depth-wise. That changes from spot to spot, depending on the water currents and thermocline. Sometimes when you have a thick thermocline they won’t come above it or won’t go below it. In either case, I can look at the fathometer and tell my customers where to fish by dropping it (the bait) for a certain number of seconds, thus putting the bait right in front of the fish so they don’t have to swim through a thermocline. Also, we can be much more selective on what we catch.”
To ensure that release mortality is kept to a minimum, anglers on the Emerald Spirit are outfitted with large circle hooks and huge chunks of cut bait, whole squid stuffed with a minnow and live bait caught along the beach just outside Perdido Pass.
“We use the biggest baits we can, preferably live bait like hardtails (blue runners), threadfins and sardines,” Pfeiffer said. “We’ve got 10 Sabiki rods and we give the customers the rods and let them catch the bait, which they enjoy. It’s better than bream fishing because you can catch three or four at a time. We also catch pinfish in traps at the dock. We troll some and if we catch bonita we can use them. Bonita is the best cut bait. Otherwise, we use squid stuffed with minnows and big strip baits.
“According to the clarity of water, the salinity and brightness of the sun, they might like something better one day and like something else better tomorrow. We always have a vast selection of different baits. What we try to do is be selective and harvest a larger fish with less effort. Also, we don’t want to injure the smaller fish.”
Captains like Pfeiffer are trying to keep their customers happy with larger fish, but that turns into a double-edged sword.
“They keep shortening our season because of the total allowable catch,” Pfeiffer said. “The reason they’re doing that is they say that overfishing is occurring so they keep cutting us back. The thing is the snapper are a lot bigger and there’s more than there have ever been. Consequently, now they’re saying that because the fish are bigger we’re harvesting more pounds, so we’re going to go over the limit again. It’s a Catch-22.
“We’re trying our best to survive, but we are going broke. There are several hundred boats that have gone out of business. The economists are saying next year is going to be just as bad, so we don’t expect a turnaround for two or three years.”
Throw in Hurricanes Ivan, Katrina and several other tropical storms and one can understand why the number of charter boats is dwindling along the Gulf Coast.
“With the bad economy, people are not willing to come down here when they can only catch two red snapper,” Pfeiffer said. “Our business is off from 60 to 70 percent from just the change in bag limit and the season, which coincides with the total allowable catch (TAC) that has been reduced by NMFS. We’re working with a 65-day snapper season where it used to be a six-month season.”
For Ira Burris, the dedicated Gulf angler who organized the trip on Emerald Spirit with a number of his co-workers from Bagby & Russell Electric Company in Mobile, a longer season would make the two-fish limit much more tolerable.
“For them (charter boats) to be able to make it, we just need a longer season,” Burris said. “Keep it at two fish, but give us more time to fish. When you charter a boat like this you’re just looking for a good time and decent-sized fish. I had met Capt. George before and I knew his passion for fishing. He promised us he would put us on some good-sized fish and he didn’t let us down.”
With the current regulations, the charter industry along the Gulf Coast is desperately trying to educate anglers about the other species of fish available to catch. It’s a difficult task because Orange Beach has been known as the “Snapper Capital of the World” for decades.
“We’re trying to tell our customers – and it’s a hard thing to do – that there are other things to catch besides red snapper,” Pfeiffer said. “I remind my customers there are lots of other fish out there. On an average 12-hour trip, we spend three or four hours fishing for snapper. That’s about half of your fishing day. If snapper season is closed, we simply fish for something else – grouper, scamp and amberjack. We are currently using deep-drop electric reels that will fish in 700, 800, 1,000 feet of water. That’s where you catch the yellowedge grouper, snowy grouper, tilefish and scamp. These fish live in water that’s 250 feet deep plus. We understand that that’s hard for the average person to wind. A couple of drops and they’re tired. That’s why we’ve incorporated the electric reels and the braided line that cuts through the water. So I tell my customers that we will use the time normally devoted to red snapper to look for grouper and other stuff. Actually, you’ll have as many or more pounds of fish in your cooler than you would when you can catch snapper. And to be honest, it’s better table fare.
“But it’s not like snapper fishing where you pull up to a spot and you get a bite instantly. With grouper fishing, they’re scattered around on natural bottom and you have to be patient. You may have to move around, but eventually it pays off. I let them know that before we leave the dock so they’ll know what to expect.”
Pfeiffer said he does all he can to help NMFS and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Marine Resources Division gather accurate information about each fishing trip – including the number of fish caught, how many were released, now many were released alive and how many were eaten by bottlenose dolphin.
“The only problem is this is a paper trail and a paper trail takes time,” he said. “We’re trying to implement some electronic reporting methods with laptops linked to satellites that we would use to upload data that day. The main purpose is to provide accurate data to NMFS for its survey so we can get our seasons and bag limits back.”
Pfeiffer admitted that he picked out several prime spots for our trip.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I wanted to show exactly how easy it is for anybody to go out there and see the fish so thick that they swim on top of the water. People are catching snapper in Escambia River at Pensacola and they’re catching them in the upper end of Mobile Bay. The fish are in places they’ve never been before because of the efforts of NMFS.
“And if they don’t do something about it soon, there are going to be red snapper swimming around in schools like piranha, eating the swimmers 10 feet off the beach,” he added with a hearty laugh.
Karl Baldwin holds up a large red snapper caught off the Emerald Spirit.
Buddy Kroner holding an amberjack caught during a recent Gulf fishing excursion.
Tales of Tails – Fishing in Orange Beach from Cpt. GeorgeMarch 22, 2009 in Action Charter Service, Alabama, Fishing Report, Fort Morgan, Gulf of Mexico, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Perdido Pass, Salt Water Series Tournament, World Championship Red Snapper Tournament
We have great anticipation of the 2009 season and know how hard everyone works all year to finally get a few days off to go fishing. We went fishing this past week with a group of guys who did just that and boy did it pay off. We had a great day of fishing as you can see from the pictures attached. Although Grouper season is closed currently, one of the anglers caught a huge nice Grouper which we released after taking pictures. We also caught Snappers, Triggers, Amber jacks, Mingos and just had an overall great catch.
Action Charter Service has also just purchased a new 65’ Bonner named The Emerald Spirit. It is powered by Twin 600 h.p. Lugger engines which allow it to cruse about 19 knots. We have two 2.5 ton air conditioners/heaters, a 900 lb. a day ice machine, a 3,000 pound fish box and live well. There is a refrigerator, microwave and large Green Egg.
The Emerald Spirit is U.S. Coast Guard Inspected for Safety and Certified for 49 passengers out to 100 miles with overnight accommodations for 12 people from Apalachicola Bay, Florida to Brownsville, Texas.
We have purchased the boat and completed a full and extensive overhaul to the entire Vessel. From all new steering and electronics to running gear and deck stringers, wiring, paint job inside and out to plush new cushions in the v-berths. We have literally re-built the entire boat with the latest and greatest.
The Emerald Spirit has all new tackle. 70 matching rods and 4/O Penn reels. We have a 100 gallon live well to keep all the live bait you can use fresh and vigorous.
With over 160 feet of rail space over the walk around deck, there is plenty of room to fish anywhere you please.
Two bathrooms have hot water showers and the cabin has plenty of air conditioning or heat to keep you comfortable.
Welcome to the absolute best fishing charter on the Gulf of Mexico!February 2, 2009 in Action Charter Service, Alabama, Fort Morgan, Gulf of Mexico, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Perdido Pass
If you are looking for an expert fisherman or an experienced guide for your tour of the beautiful Gulf Coast waterways, Action Charter Service and Captain George Pfeiffer invite you to join them on The CAT. The CAT, Coast Guard Certified for up to 30 passengers, will meet and exceed the needs of your fishing trip or sightseeing tour.
The CAT is fit for deep or blue water fishing up to 100 miles offshore, fishing along the Gulf Coast or within its hundreds of miles of inlets. Using the best bait, top-of-the-line rods and reels, and the combined experience of Captain George and his Mate, Action Charter Service will make sure that your trip is exciting and memorable. With Action Charter Service you will get on the fish and get those fish on the boat.
No matter what your pleasure, Action Charter Service can accommodate. From offshore trolling for Blue Marlin, Wahoo, Tuna, and Dolphin, to bottom fishing for the hard fighting Grouper, Amberjack, and the delicious Red Snapper, we will put you there. The CAT is also available for fishing tournaments, providing ample room for you and your guests to have multiple lines in the water.
For sightseers, Action Charter Service is available for events such as Blue Angels expositions, concerts at The Wharf, fireworks shows, even bird-watching tours. Captain George has lived on the Gulf Coast his entire life and is familiar with all of its natural wonders.
Captain George Pfeiffer and Action Charter Service are your best choice for your fishing or sightseeing trip along the Florida and Alabama coast. Service is available throughout the Spring, Summer, and Fall fishing seasons.
Call Captain George Pfieffer @ 888.558.3889 to book your Fishing Trip!
Welcome to Action Charter Service! On our web site you will find information to help you book your fishing trip with us as well as information about us. On the Captain and Vessel pages you will find profiles of our captain, George Pfeiffer, a Florida Gulf Coast native, and his ship, The CAT. In our Photos section, you will find pictures from our many successful trips in and around the Gulf Coast. Under the Fishing Seasons section of the site, you will find Captain George’s monthly reports on local fishing game and photos of that month’s most exciting catch!
Before you check out the pricing and booking you should take a look at our fishing blog in the Fishing Reports section. There you will find posts about previous trips we’ve taken out into the Gulf, and, within the blog, you can get a feel for what a day with Captain George on The CAT is like. When you’re finally ready to get going on your trip, you can park it at our Pricing and Booking section filled with detailed information pertaining to the type of trip that you want.
Action Charter Service makes every effort to ensure that your trip is safe and fun so that you and your group can have a great time and catch heaps of delicious fish!
Alabama Gulf Coast Fishing Season Heats UpMarch 12, 2008 in Action Charter Service, Alabama, Fishing Report, Fort Morgan, Gulf of Mexico, Gulf Shores, Perdido Pass
Fishing season is warming up and we were fortunate enough to have beautiful weather when we went out this past Wednesday, March 12. In mid-March, most of the fish are still offshore a few miles in warmer water. So our first stop was 22 miles south of Perdido Pass in Orange Beach, AL. (The water temperature at the pass is still about 61°.)
The fish seemed to be anticipating our arrival. As soon as we stopped on the first spot it was action-packed. No sooner than we dropped our lines they started hitting; vermilion snapper (or mingos), triggerfish, white snapper, banded rudder fish. Then some small Amberjack started hitting. The fish were biting as fast as we could get fresh bait in the water.
After an hour-and-a-half on this spot, we decided to try our luck on some deeper water species. We headed south another 5 or 6 miles to around 180 feet of water. Sure enough, soon as we dropped our lines the fish were ready. We picked up some really big white snapper, and a few scamp. Just as we were about to come back home, we lucked into a couple of 33 inch Amberjack (a nice “Cart Topper”).
As we were headed to the dock at the end of the day, the fishing team was busy planning their next trip.