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John's Journal... Entry 248, Day 1


Orange Beach Red Snapper World Championship

Editor's Note: This last week of the Orange Beach Red Snapper World Championship, which began April 21st and runs through May 20th, means some angler will take home $25,000 for first place, all the way down through $1,000 for 20th place, simply by paying a $5/day entry fee. If someone catches a new Alabama state record snapper, the angler will win a brand-new, 4-wheel-drive Nissan Titan pickup truck. If a new world's record is set, the angler will win $200,000. The boats entered in the tournament pay $400 each, and then the winning boat gets the same amount of cash prizes as the winning angler. There's heavy competition to catch really-big red snapper. However, even when the tournament ends, anglers out of the port of Orange Beach, Alabama, regularly catch 20-pound-plus red snapper. To learn more about why there are so many red snapper off Alabama's Gulf Coast, I fished with Captain Butch Tucker on the "Shady Lady," out of Zeke's Marina, the tournament headquarters.

Not your usual charter boat captain, Captain Tucker has fished for red snapper all of his life and paid his way through college catching red snapper. Tucker has a master's degree in marine biology, so if anyone knows where, when and how to catch the big red snapper, Tucker should be the man. He's been taking charters out of Orange Beach for 10 years and has more than 4,000 locations of artificial reefs where he fishes. When I asked Tucker why so many big red snapper were landed at Orange Beach, he quickly fired back, "We have so many red snapper of all sizes because the Alabama's artificial-reef-building program has been successful. Having a place to live is one of the most-critical ingredients for numbers of red snapper. Artificial reefs supply habitat for snapper, and the more habitat you have, the more snapper you have. The more snapper you have, the more big snapper you can have."

Question: Where do you find the really-big red snapper, and how do you find them?
Tucker: You can see the red snapper on your depth finder. When I pull onto a spot and I don't see any big snapper on my depth finder, I don't fish that spot. The longer you leave a spot alone and don't fish it, the more snapper and the bigger snapper that reef will hold.

Question: Of the 4,000 artificial reefs that you've located, how many of them will have big snapper on them?
Tucker: That depends. Of course, big snapper have tails and fins, and they swim from spot to spot. Every spot I fish has the potential to hold big snapper.

Question: Butch, if I said I wanted to go to your 10-best big-snapper spots, how would you pick those 10 places?
Tucker: I can't. Just because I take you to the spots where the big snapper are doesn't mean those big fish will bite. Many times I've pulled on a big snapper spot, seen the fish on the depth finder and for some reason, they just won't bite. Other days I can pull on the same spot, with the same snapper and just about every rod on the boat will bend up with big snapper. For example, I pulled up on a spot the other day where a large school of 20-pound snapper were holding, and we couldn't get a single one of those snapper to bite. Snapper get big because they are smart, just like a trophy buck.

To learn more about fishing and the other sites to see at Orange Beach, contact the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau at (800) 745-7263 or visit www.orangebeach.com. For charter information, contact Zeke's Marina (800) 793-4044 or visit www.zekescharters.com. To fish with Captain Butch Tucker and first mate, Dennis Treigle on the "Shady Lady," call Captain Tucker at (850) 492-9675 or (850) 380-3321. For more information about the World Red Snapper Championship, check out www.gulffishing.net/Red%20Snapper%20Championship.htm or www.orangebeachsnapper.com/. For places to stay, contact Kaiser Realty at (251) 968-6868 or go to www.kaiserrealty.com.




Check back each day this week for more about ORANGE BEACH, ALABAMA RED SNAPPER WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP ...

Day 1 - Orange Beach Red Snapper World Championship
Day 2 - How To Catch A Really Big Red Snapper
Day 3 - Snapper Fishing With Dennis Treigle
Day 4 - Why I Stay In The Customer's Ear
Day 5 - Why And How Many People Lose Big Snapper Right At The Boat

John's Journal