Pier, inshore and gulf fishing

Legs wide and pressed against the side of a 62-foot boat for balance, it took all my strength to reel in two 20- to 24-inch red snappers and two round triggerfish, which weighed between five and seven pounds, on a six-hour fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico, 12 miles out with no land in sight.

As soon as we tossed in our lines, we had bites, including grouper and amberjack. A few dolphins cavorted in water near the boat, hoping to catch the out-of-season reds we threw back.

At the end of the afternoon, we dropped off our catch at Shipp's Harbour Grill, which cooked and served it. It was a memorable feast.

With over 100 charter-fishing boats, the nation's largest artificial fishing reef program and one of the gulf's longest fishing piers, Orange Beach-Gulf Shores is a very popular place to go fishing. Our tour was through Necessity Charters with Capt. Ben Fairey.

Another day I went out fishing with Capt. Robby Walker. Fishing inland on his 24-foot boat, my friends caught red snapper and bluefish, but I didn't catch any.

According to local lore, anything banana - food, suntan lotion -- means bad luck for fishing. I was wearing Banana Boat suntan lotion.

Pier fishing is another great way to catch fish or watch others do it. The Gulf State Park Pier is 1,540 feet long and 20 feet wide with an octagon-shaped end that offers plenty of space for people to fish. A license for the day is just a few dollars, making it the most economical way to fish. Many of the regulars had innovative carts on wheels with a row of fishing rods and a cooler for their catch. One had a 35-pound fish hanging over the edge.


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