Editor's Note: Troy Frady is captain of the "Distraction" charter boat docked at Orange Beach Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama.
It might seem like you're fishing backwards, but Captain Troy Frady teaches anglers how to land fish like this.
"Most of the time we have to teach people to fish backwards," says Captain Troy Frady. "Throughout most of a fisherman's life, he or she has learned that when you feel the fish bite the bait, you need to set the hook. However, most of the time if you try to set the hook when you feel the fish bite, and you're using circle hooks like we are now, you'll miss the fish."
Bottom fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico now are required to use circle hooks when fishing for reef fish. The circle hook is a strange invention. Instead of being j-shaped like most hooks, it has an unusual circle shape. Designed to go deep into the fish's mouth, then as the fish tightens-up on the line, the circle hook rolls in the fish's mouth and attaches itself to the corner of the mouth, rather than being swallowed down deep into the fish's stomach and possibly killing the fish.
"We instruct our anglers to, as soon as they feel the bite, do nothing," Frady explains. "Rather, they need to wait for the fish to tighten-up the line. Then they should start slowly and methodically reeling-in the line. As the fish tightens the line, that hook attaches to the corner of the fish's mouth and sets itself, which drastically increases the number of hook-ups our anglers get. Also, when catching and releasing fish in the Gulf of Mexico, the circle hook doesn't cause any damage that will prevent the fish from surviving. We also use a large hypodermic needle that's placed into the fish's stomach to release the gas that often causes fish not to be able to swim back down to the bottom and recover safely. From these two procedures, we've learned that we can save a number of released fish. So, after our anglers get a limit of red snapper, they still can catch and release snapper and other reef fish and keep bent rods all day."
With a special fall red snapper season running until 12:01 am on November 22, anglers can catch and keep limits of red snapper on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. During the week, anglers can catch and release red snapper but keep vermilion snapper, triggerfish, king mackerel, white snapper, scamp, grouper, amberjacks and gag grouper. Because the Gulf of Mexico has been closed to fishing during most of the spring and the summer due to new fishing regulations and the BP oil spill, there seems to be more fish on all the more-than-5,000 artificial reefs off Alabama's Gulf Coast than anglers have seen in more than a decade. The average red snapper coming to the dock weighs between 8- and 14-pounds each, and the amberjacks are averaging 30 to 60 pounds. The special fall red snapper season will end soon. If you haven't planned a trip to Alabama's Gulf Coast for some fantastic fishing, make your plans now to help reap the bountiful harvest available, because of this special fall red snapper season.
To fish with Captain Troy Frady on the "Distraction," call 251-975-8111, or visit www.distractioncharters.com. For more information on fishing guides and charter boats, lodging accommodations, restaurants and entertainment on Alabama's Gulf Coast, call Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism at 800-745-SAND (7263), or visit www.orangebeach.com. You also can get a fishing report three times each week by visiting the "What's Biting?" column at www.orangebeach.com/fishing/biting/.