There are few small towns with such a big reputation as Orange Beach, Alabama. Home to just over 5,000 residents, you’ll wonder why more people haven’t upped sticks and moved here. Wander along its white beaches, look out onto blue waters, and discover some of the best fishing grounds in the world. Seriously, fishing in Orange Beach is so productive, it’s even been nicknamed the “Red Snapper Capital of the World!”
But Snapper isn’t the only thing you can find here. While Louisiana may be the most famous state for bayous, Orange Beach also looks onto several productive shallow waterways. The Perdido Pass offers up incredible fishing where the Gulf of Mexico and inshore waters meet. Add to that access to Alabama’s famous nearshore reef system, and the deep waters of the Gulf, and you have the perfect fishing destination. So let’s dive in and see what it’s all about!
What can I catch when fishing in Orange Beach?
Well, we’ve already revealed the star of the fishing scene here – Red Snapper. But fishing in Orange Beach offers up a real who’s who of Gulf favorites. From the bayous to the reefs, and all the way out to the oil rigs, you can get your hands on some true delicacies, along with a number of trophy catches to make any angler envious.
Redfish and Speckled Trout
Inshore fishing all around the Gulf is synonymous with targeting these two exciting and delicious creatures. Redfish and Speckled Trout are staples of the fishing scene from the Florida Keys to the Mexican border, and they’re rightly revered for their game and table fare qualities.
What makes them so special here? Well, year-round, these beauties swarm the shallow waters. Hit the bays and pass, and you’re sure to find one of the two gobbling your bait. They hit their peak in fall and winter, so come when the crowds have died down for the best action.
“Bull” Reds and “Gator” Trouts are great trophy catches, but it’s better to practice catch-and-release on these monsters. Don’t worry, though, the smaller fish provide the best meat, so you’re always in for a treat!
Kingfish and Spanish Mackerel
Head to the mouth of the bays, where the Gulf opens up, and two of the more common catches belong to the Mackerel family. King Mackerel and its Spanish cousin can sometimes be overlooked in other parts of the Gulf. But anglers in Orange Beach hold them in high regard. And rightly so!
Troll the nearshore waters to entice the bite of these quick critters and you won’t be disappointed. “Smoker” Kings promise to put up an intense fight, while smaller Spanish Mackerel provide fun for the whole family. Not only that, but you’re in for some tasty meat, whatever you catch.
From spring through summer, you’ll find Mackerel looking to feed on your bait. Fast trolling or jigging early on in the season for Spanish Mackerel is recommended, while slow trolling with shrimp in summer will give you the best shot at landing a King.
Groupers and Snappers
If the inshore fishing grounds of the Gulf are synonymous with Redfish and Trout, then nearshore must be all about Snappers and Groupers. Everywhere you look from Orange Beach, dazzling and delicious Grouper and Snapper species are just waiting to be caught. They come in all shapes and sizes, so there’s something for every kind of angler. And anyone who fancies a culinary delight at the end of their day’s fishing will be rewarded!
Red Snapper steals the show when its season hits, but there are plenty more prized creatures out there. Mangrove Snapper is always available inshore, while Lane, White, and Vermilion Snapper will keep you on your toes along the reefs and in the deep.
Gag Grouper is a common catch in late summer and fall – when the season is open. Meanwhile, Red Grouper and Scamp Grouper are also available – just not in February and March. You may also spot a Goliath Grouper that will blow you away by its sheer size, but you’ll need to release this monster to fight another day.
Cobia and Amberjack
In joint second as the Gulf’s favorite nearshore and offshore species come Cobia and Amberjack. Much like Snappers and Groupers, these creatures provide all-round fun. They grow to impressive sizes, fight like crazy, and make for a succulent supper at the end of the day. Whether bottom fishing the reefs or trolling the open waters of the Gulf, chances are you’ll find one of these beauties when in season.
Early spring is peak Cobia time, as they make their way around the Gulf in search of a hospitable habitat. Head out into the deep, however, and there’s a good chance you’ll find one whenever you come!
Amberjacks are a little less picky. April through October is the best time to target them nearshore (yep, that’s a big window!). But you’re just as likely to find them in the deep in even the coldest of months.
And Pelagics, Too!
While you may need to travel far out into the heart of the Gulf to get your hands on some of the biggest creatures these waters have to offer, nothing is out of the question in Orange Beach. Spend upwards of 12 hours on a large sportfishing vessel, and take advantage of the deep sea fishing grounds offshore. Troll the open waters, with no distractions other than the stunning horizon, and wait for that all-important bite.
Blue and White Marlin, along with Sailfish, are often at the top of many anglers’ bucket lists. You can find them in all their glory in late summer and early fall here. Head out in early summer, and Wahoo and Mahi Mahi are most likely to be on the cards. Don’t miss out on the chance for some prime meat, either. Yellowfin and Blackfin Tuna are the real all-round stars of the deep.
How to Go Fishing in Orange Beach
In order to get your hands on these prized species and many more, the next thing you need to know is how to get your fish on. We’ve said that Orange Beach is a small town, but its fishing opportunities are endless! Fishing of all sorts is possible, and we’ll go through our pick of the bunch.
Orange Beach Surf Fishing
The sandy beaches overlooking the Gulf aren’t just for lounging on! There’s a whole ocean of exciting fish out there, so why not cast your line right from shore? Combine a relaxing vacation or trip to the beach with some thrilling angling action, and you’ll get the best of both worlds!
Surf fishing in Orange Beach doesn’t end Gulfside, though. Hit the greenery around the bayous and set up camp for the day. It will feel almost like a freshwater fishing adventure – only with bigger and better fish! Don’t forget to explore the Perdido Pass on foot, either. The structure of the bridge will attract plenty of fish, so the roads, rocks, grass, and sands are all prime locations to wet your line from.
Orange Beach Pier Fishing
Ok, so we know we’ve mentioned the size of the town a lot, but you really wouldn’t expect such a small place to have so much on offer. The biggest piece of evidence is the number of fishing piers that Orange Beach boasts. Small and large, Gulfside and in the bayous – there’s pretty much nowhere you can look without seeing a fishing pier in Orange Beach.
Pier fishing gives you the benefit of setting up camp for the day and focusing all your attention on fishing. What’s better about fishing from a pier is that you’ll have a vantage point to spot the fish from, and to help you reel ‘em in. Don’t forget about the structure beneath you that provides plenty of nutrients for the fish to feed from!
Orange Beach Party Boat Fishing
On the other end of the scale from shore and pier fishing comes party boat fishing. A great option for anglers on a budget or those looking to share their experience with like-minded anglers, party boats are very popular in Orange Beach. Some even cater to up to 80 guests! They provide surefire fun for any extroverted angler and are a much cheaper alternative to the other option of fishing by boat – charter fishing.
You’ll experience the more open parts of the bay and maybe the nearshore reefs aboard a party boat in Orange Beach. That means you should have plenty of chances to land a prized creature. However, fish are not as stupid as they may seem! Some may spot the large number of lines in the water and swim away. Don’t forget to bring cash with you if fishing on a party boat, though. Bait and fuel, along with service, are often not included in the price.
Orange Beach Fishing Charters
Now you may have guessed from the above that fishing charters in Orange Beach aren’t cheap. But we think they provide value for money. In our opinion, they’re the creme-de-la-creme of recreational fishing. They provide a tailored experience, making sure that you get the most out of your angling adventure. For starters, how else could you explore such a wide range of fishing grounds?
Whether inshore, nearshore, or offshore, a fishing charter is your best bet of guaranteeing success. If the fish aren’t biting, the captain can just turn the engine on and take you to a spot where they are! What’s more, your experienced guide will already know the honey holes in the area, along with all the tricks of the trade to help you fill the boat. They can give beginners a helping hand, or provide pros with top-of-the-line gear. You’ll want for nothing all day long!
Orange Beach Fishing Spots
While a professional guide may already know the best local fishing grounds, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t, too. Whether on foot, choosing a pier, or out with a guide, you should know where’s best to go. It was tough to narrow it down, but here are the spots we think you shouldn’t miss out on visiting in Orange Beach.
- Perdido Pass: As the bays open into the Gulf, a whole load of fish congregate for your enjoyment. From the beach, boardwalk, or a boat, you can land Flounder, Trout, Redfish, Mackerel, Pompano, and much more.
- Cotton Bayou Public Pier: Tucked away in the corner of this small bayou, this pier is one of the best spots for inshore fishing. Whether on the pier itself or fishing beneath, you’re sure to reel in all the favorites.
- Bayou St. John: Not to be confused with the one in New Orleans, LA! This larger bayou is full of action. Set up camp on shore or head out on a boat and get your fill of inshore fishing.
- Gulf State Park Pier: If you want the best chance of landing a monster fish without leaving dry land, this 1,500’ pier is for you. Stretching out onto the Gulf, there’s no end to the nearshore species you can find here.
- Artificial Reefs: Alabama has the biggest artificial reef system in the whole of the US. Take to any of the over 17,000 structures and bottom fish for all the big names. Snappers, Groupers, Cobia, Amberjack – you can’t go wrong!
- Oil Rigs: Why is offshore fishing in Orange Beach so good? Well, the wealth of oil rigs out in the deep provides nutrients for some truly prized fish. Oversized nearshore favorites are feasting, which just attracts all the big game species to offer a fishing frenzy.
When to Come Fishing in Orange Beach
If we haven’t made it clear by now, then we’ll mention it in plain terms. Orange Beach is a year-round fishing destination. The warmer waters of the bays and bayous are full of prized fish even in the colder months, while the reefs also tend to have something feasting year-round. The deepwater action tends to pick up in the warmer months, while plenty of fish are biting inshore then, too.
Come in spring and fall to beat the crowds and take advantage of the range of fishing grounds before it’s too cold or choppy to do so. However, if you’re looking to compete for more than just a prized fish, you should make the most of tournament season in Orange Beach.
Orange Beach Fishing Tournaments
- Orange Beach Billfish Classic: This thrilling event kicks off the big game season in May, with anglers from all over the world competing to land a Billfish of the highest order.
- Flora-Bama Rodeo: Possibly the number one fishing event in town, this event also takes place in June and is open to anglers based out of either side of Perdido Bay, with categories for all kinds of fish.
- Orange Beach Open: Every June the town comes alive with anglers from all around the Gulf going after all the big game favorites.
- Blue Marlin Grand Championship: Deep sea enthusiasts will relish the chance to put their skills to the test each July. Come and see who can land the biggest of all the most sought-after creatures.
We’ve briefly covered the seasonality of some fish, but there’s more to it than just closed seasons. Most fish have a size limit, along with bag restrictions, so it’s always worth consulting the Alabama DCNR website before casting your line.
You should also check whether you need an Alabama fishing license. Those of you fishing on a charter or party boat will be covered, and the cost of a license is included in the entry fee to most piers. However, head out on foot and you’ll most likely need one. Check out how to get one with our handy guide.
Orange Beach: An Angler’s Paradise
And that’s that. You’re good to go fishing in Orange Beach. We’ve hopefully convinced you that the fishing scene here is up there with the best in the world. The only thing left to do is for you to try it out for yourself. Don’t believe us? Then you should still try it out and prove us wrong! Add the incredible species on offer to the stunning scenery, and some good ol’ southern hospitality, and you have a fishing dreamland.
Have you ever been fishing in Orange Beach? How was it? Think we’ve missed anything? Let us know in the comments below!