Orange Beach is reef fishing heaven with more reefs and fish than any other destination in the Gulf. Alabama has the largest artificial reef program in the United States with over 17,000 artificial reefs. The array of reefs is densely packed into the small Alabama coastline and gives anglers the opportunity to catch sought-after fish almost anywhere.
Past the reefs is the open blue water that will put you in the perfect spot to catch a variety of incredible sportfish. With plenty of ridges, ledges, and drops there is no shortage of ideal spots to wet a line and get on the fish.
In the beginning, Orange Beach was close to dense forestland, and in the early days of the town, it produced turpentine and wood shingles. As the forests were cut back, orange groves were planted which created a new business for the area. Several hard freezes in the area killed all of the orange trees in the mid-1920s and around that same time the Intracoastal waterway was created bringing tourism to the area. Hotels were built and locals began renting their boats for day-long fishing trips which was the start of charter fishing in Orange Beach.
The underwater geography surrounding Orange Beach is complex with thousands of structures to explore in search of fish. The variety of offshore structures made up of reefs, platforms, and ledges attract baitfish which draws in an abundance of sport fish. If you head out to the famous Continental Shelf, the seafloor drops a couple thousand feet opening up some of the best opportunities to catch bluewater giants. Whether bottom fishing for reef fish or trolling for open water pelagic species, Orange Beach produces some of the best offshore fishing trips in the gulf every year.
The deep-sea fish species available in Orange Beach can be found near the reefs or open water structures. One fish that doesn’t seem to fit in either category is cobia, which can be found cruising solo or in a large group anywhere from just offshore to open bluewater.
There are several species of snapper and grouper living near the reefs off the coast of Orange Beach. The most popular snapper is the red snapper but outside of their summer season many of the other snapper species can be caught year-round.
Grouper, while not nearly as pretty are frequently found alongside snapper near the bottom of reefs. Grouper species frequently grow huge with many species easily breaking 100lbs and some even hitting 400lbs.
Amberjack are one of the most beautiful and delicious fish and spend their time living near the reefs. They are also called reef donkeys because they are known for bringing the fight and being pound for pound one of the strongest fish in the sea. Amberjack are commonly caught by anglers targeting red snapper because amberjack feed on many of the same food sources and in the same areas.
The long and lean pelagic species include mahi mahi, kingfish, and wahoo. These fish are not small with all of them able to hit 50 lbs fairly easily. Wahoo are one of the fastest fish in the ocean reaching speeds of over 60 mph. Despite their light build, wahoo will make your reel smoke when they take off on a run.
Tuna are some of the most popular deep-sea target species out of Orange Beach with both yellowfin and blackfin dominating these waters for most of the year. Yellowfin can grow into giants reaching 400+ pounds. Tuna are a challenge for even experienced anglers with enough stamina to fight for hours. Although blackfin are considerably smaller, they will still take line and taste great.
Marlin are the biggest of the pelagic species and a popular trophy fish targeted by many anglers in Orange Beach. The Alabama state record for a blue marlin currently stands at over 850 pounds which is more than 4 times larger than the yellowfin record. Sailfish are the fastest fish in the ocean and a popular sportfish. They are known to strike lures on the surface which can be done by either trolling or kite fish. However you target sailfish, they will put up an incredible fight and possibly go airborne with long leaping runs.
When it comes to deep sea fishing Orange Beach, fish can be found almost anywhere but there are certain areas to target depending on what you want to catch.
The offshore reefs are the best place to go bottom fishing for snapper, amberjack, or grouper. Reefs attract schools of baitfish and other food sources that these fish hunt. With so many reefs around, if one reef is slow the next might fill up the boat.
There are dozens of platforms off the coast of Alabama and provide the unique opportunity to fish for big action sportfish like yellowfin tuna at night. The lights on these oil rigs attract baitfish which brings in large sportfish the most popular of which are tuna. If fishing all night for big fish sounds like fun this might be the perfect trip for you.
Heading out all the way to the shelf will put you in deep water which is the ideal spot to land a giant fish. The massive ledge where the seafloor drops is the perfect place for huge marlin, tuna, and sailfish to patrol looking for food. When you are searching for the biggest fish head to the shelf.
Orange Beach deep sea fishing has exceptional fishing throughout the year with several species always biting. The best time to go will depend on what fish you want to catch but generally, the best fishing is from May to November when warm weather and several species migrations overlap. Snapper fishing is usually hot throughout the summer, with billfish and tuna coming on strong from May to November.
Winter fishing in Orange Beach can also be great with moderate temperatures and plenty of inshore species migrating to shallower water. This is when a lot of trophy inshore fish are caught and the weather also happens to be very pleasant.
While the deep sea fishing in Orange Beach is exceptional, the inshore and nearshore fishing is equally as impressive.
Orange Beach offers a ton of sought-after inshore fish species throughout the maze of backwaters. Flounder are found in the bays and shallow flats with redfish and trout being caught near the jetties and inlets. Redfish and trout can be caught all year but the biggest fish show up in the fall and spring. While Orange Beach is not a tarpon nursery it does see tarpon swing through each year. The tarpon that do end up in the Orange Beach water’s are generally large and on the move looking for food.
Nearshore fishing overlaps with the smaller offshore fish primarily snapper, amberjack, and mackerel making up the bulk of the catch. Cobia can be found anywhere but the best chance of hooking up with one is on a nearshore trip. Some of the most action-packed fishing in the gulf are nearshore trips with short boat rides to get to fishing spots.
This city has come a long way since its start as a town that made turpentine. Now Orange Beach is one of the top vacation spots in the U.S. Orange Beach has become well known for its attraction both on and off the water with beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife.
The Keg Lounge and Grill is a local favorite for grabbing a drink or a bite to eat after a long day on the water. If you decide you need a change in pace, you can always make a quick trip and visit Gulf Shores. A beach day is almost required when visiting the coast. If you need a day of relaxation with a beautiful view, the Alabama Point East or Romar Beach are both Gulf State Park Beach Areas with gorgeous sugary white sand and beautiful blue water.
For those who want to get out and explore Orange Beach has a pier, hiking trails, and nearby in Gulf Shores the Gulf Coast Zoo. At the Zoo, you can do everything from feeding giraffes to ziplining. Orange Beach has world-class fishing and plenty of amenities to keep any group entertained whether it’s a fishing vacation or a vacation with some fishing.
Updated on December 24, 2022
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