John's Journal...

Fishing Alabama’s Gulf Coast After the Oil Spill on the Gulf of Mexico

Day 1: Oil Spill on the Gulf – How’s the Fishing Now?

Captain Ben Fairey of Orange Beach, Alabama, really has his pulse on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and its effect on fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Captain Fairey is a member of the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism Board and the board of directors for the Orange Beach Fishing Association. Fairey was recently appointed to Alabama Governor Bob Riley’s Coastal Recovery Committee and also serves on two advisory panels for the National Marine Fisheries Service. Fairey has input not only in trying to determine what effect the oil spill has had on fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, but he also has input on the recovery of the red snapper fishery and setting seasons and bag limits for red snapper and the other fish in the Gulf. A 37-year veteran of charter fishing, Fairey totally has invested in fishing out of Orange Beach, Ala., and the future of sportfshing in the Gulf of Mexico.

According to Fairey, “I’m really surprised at how fast the red snapper have recovered, since the National Marine Fisheries Service imposed seasons and bag limits on the red snapper. What has really surprised me is that not only are there more red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico then we’ve ever had in my lifetime, but the size of those red snapper that are consistently being caught during this fall red snapper season that runs weekends through 12:01 am on November 22 has been phenomenal. The average red snapper being caught and brought to the dock right now usually weighs between 8 and 15 pounds – a tremendous average for the size of snapper being caught. In past years, we’ve had to run 50- to 60-miles offshore to catch that grade of snapper. But today, anglers are catching snapper of that size within 12- to 20-miles off the beach. There’s a huge biomass of red snapper out in the Gulf of Mexico right now, and the other reef fish, like triggerfish, vermillion snapper, white snapper, lane snapper and amberjacks are also being brought to the dock and in much greater sizes than we’ve seen in years.”

Fairey say he can’t believe the statement he’s about to make, however, he believes it to be true. “Not only is our fishing out of Orange Beach the best I’ve seen in 37 years, but I really believe it’s going to continue to get better in the future. I think during the spring and summer of 2011, we’ll continue to see the size of fish being brought into Orange Beach increase, and the numbers of fish we’re catching also increase. And, I believe this trend will hold-up well into the future. Some more good news is that all of the seafood coming from the Gulf of Mexico has been tested and checked and declared safe to eat by a number of governmental agencies. So, not only do we have plenty of fish to catch, we have numbers of big fish to catch, and we know for certain now they’re all good to eat.”

For more information on fishing with Captain Ben Fairey on the “Necessity,” visit,, or call 251-609-2525. To learn more about 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 You also can get a fishing report three times each week by visiting the What's Biting column.

Below is a video we did with Captain Ben Fairey last weekend. We’ll let him tell you about the type of trip we had, and the size of fish his fishermen caught.

Today's Video Clip:

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Tomorrow: Good Fishing all Winter Long on the Gulf State Park Pier, the Longest Pier in the Gulf of Mexico

Check back each day this week for more about "Fishing Alabama’s Gulf Coast After the Oil Spill on the Gulf of Mexico"

Day 1: Oil Spill on the Gulf – How’s the Fishing Now?
Day 2: Good Fishing All Winter Long on the Gulf State Park Pier, the Longest Pier in the Gulf of Mexico
Day 3: Young People Enjoy a Red Snapper Birthday on Alabama’s Gulf Coast
Day 4: Captain Johnny Greene’s 12-Hour Trip During the Fall Red Snapper Season at Alabama’s Gulf Coast
Day 5: The Oil Spill Off Alabama’s Gulf Coast Isn’t a Problem for Fishermen


Entry 585, Day 1