Monday, April 6, 2009

Deep Sea Fishing Gulf Shores on the High Cotton!

We met at the boat at 6 am! My dad, Chad, Justin, Katy, Julie, Lee, Jared, Feddi, and myself! The forecast was calling for 3-5 footers off shore with the possibility of getting bigger as the day progressed. The High Cotton is a 55' beast, so we new we would be quite comfortable even with the waves. Our Captain Chris Garner and his first mate Shawn had everything rigged up and ready to roll when we pulled up! The live well was full of pinfish and bait box full of squid and northern mackerel.

We were heading out 50 miles on a 10 hour deep sea fishing trip! Our boat ride was 2.5 hours before we got to the bottom fishing grounds. First let me explain a little bit about deep sea fishing. The difference in going out on 6, 8, or 10 hour fishing trips is not really more fishing time, but actually more driving time. Sounds kind of like a waste of time and money, but actually you catch WAY more fish out away from everyone else. Most everyone typically goes on the 6 and 8 hour trips, so everyone is basically fishing the same spots as everyone else! When you drive the extra 20 miles or so offshore, you are fishing in water that doesn't get fished, and these fish are ready to EAT!

Chris made one big mistake, and that was to put us on the MOTHERLOAD at our very first spot. It wasn't even our main destination, but just a spot to try out en route to the live rocks. Anyhow everyone started dropping 2 hook rigs baited with mackeral chunks and pieces of squid. The standard procedure for the day was to drop your bait to the bottom, get a bite within about 20 seconds and real up either a fish or an empty hook! We never would know exactly what kind of fish we were reeling in (Shawn and Chris typically could tell just by how the rod was acting) but it was a mystery to us until we started to see "color" With 9 people fishing as hard and fast as possible, we were quickly filling up the cooler with triggerfish, lane snapper, white snapper, and grouper! Here is Feddi with an awesome Triggerfish!

While everyone was getting the fish "fired up" as Chris would say, he started marking some big boys on the graph, coming over to check out all the commotion. At his cue, Jared rigged up a live pinfish and sent it down about 45 feet below the boat. In a matter of 10 seconds, he was reeling in a 20 lb amberjack. Let me rephrase that, he was getting 'whooped' by a 20 lb amberjack on steroids! Those fish are definitely 'juiced up' becasue they pack a serious punch, you cant even comprehend a 20 lb fish fighting so hard!

Our standard procedure for this spot was to keep everyone rolling with the 2 hook rigs to keep the fish basically chummed up and active around the boat. Then we would send a live pinfish down on the big rod one at a time and the school of 20-30 lb amberjack would eat the bait within 20 seconds every time down! All 9 of us boated an amberjack at this first spot. We could only keep one amberjack per person, so we would throw the small 20 lbers back in, and keep the bigger 25 lbers! Once we all landed one, and we kept 6 of them (we didnt want to fill our whole 9 fish amberjack limit at our first spot, because the best amberjack water was yet to come) we stopped using up our pinfish and switched to a chartruese jig on the big rod.
The amberjack were not supposed to hit that jig as much as the pinfish, but feddi and I took turns pounding them on the jig while everyone else was loading up on triggers and snappers! Sitting here now typing up this, I look back and think what in the world was I thinking catching those fish for sport??? I have bruisers in my gut where I would stick the rod while fighting those fish, and my whole body kind of feels like I got hit by a train from battling those fish nonstop! At our first stop and just over one hour of fishing we boated 16 amberjacks and filled the 600 lb cooler half full with the snappers and triggerfish!

We then headed to several other spots and hit more of the same at each spot. Some of the spots would be loaded up with Red Snappers and when we would start pulling up the Red Snappers, we would move to new spots. Red Snappers are not in season yet, so we didnt want to catch them. After reeling in a handful of fish, your arms get so tired that you don't want to waste a 10 minute battle on a fish that cant go in the cooler! Naturally since the Reds were not in season and we were not targeting them, we ended up catching and landing several trophies.

About 11 am, we fired up the green egg grill that is mounted to the deck! For the rest of the day, we had amberjack and snapper cooking nonstop! I dont need, to but will say that eating freshly caught amberjack and snapper out of the ocean is the absolute freshest and best tasting you would ever EAT! Being hungry and 50 miles from the nearest other source of food, would make even a bass taste good, but that was as good as it gets!

About our third stop, Chad decided it was time to start trying for something HUGE! He put on about a one pound hunk of meat and sent it down to the bottom. After several misses, he finally got a grouper big enough to eat the bait.

At this point of the trip, our 600 lb cooler was pretty much full and our small army of 9 fisherman had dwindled down to just 5 dropping lines down at each spot. We were all hoping to catch something really big, but were basically too tired to reel it in if it did decide to bite! That reminds me of a little story about my dad. He is the most diehard fisherman in the world when it comes to catching tasty fish. At one point I looked over and he was just sitting there with his rod in the holder, hooks baited up and not in the water!!! I said to him what in the world are you doing? He looked at me with his little whooped puppy dog face and said: I dont think I can reel in another fish?

My dad did end up dropping down and reeling in several more fish before we started our 2.5 hour ride back to land. We rode in complete luxury watching satellite TV and just chilling in a living room furnised better than my whole house! I rode up on the second floor with Chris for part of the time, just catching up on whats been going down lately. Even the second floor is air conditioned on that boat and he has a satellite tv up there too!

We got back to to the dock about 4:30 pm. We took pics of the big fish on the High Cotton hanging board and took all of the snappers, triggers, and grouper directly to the fish cleaning station.

Shawn has been a commercial fisherman since the age of 12 and he immediately started chopping up those fish faster than you could imagine! By the time we were done with pics, he had a pile of meat that would have taken me hours to clean!

Even though Shawn was lightning fast, he still had 100's of lbs of fish to clean and we decided it would be best just to come back in the morning to pick up the cleaned and packaged meat. From home brought 2 big coolers to bring the fish home from our trip, but we are going to have to buy at least one, possibly two more just to get the fish back to our condo!!!

Since my first ever guided fishing trip with Chris 11 years ago, I have had the privilege of fishing all over the world. Through various mission trips, work trips, and family vacations I have been ocean fishing in Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Mexico, Islamorada, Sarasota, Alaska, Canada, Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and quite a few other locations. Anyhow what I am getting at is that although some of those places are unbelievable fishing locations, I have never been with a guide who equals the fishing knowledge, ability, determination, equipment and passion that Chris has. He is years behind pretty much everyone on his website stuff and the whole internet, but he just flat out knows how to work hard and catch some serious fish!

If your ever taking a family vacation to Gulf Shores, Alabama or you want to schedule a fishing trip of a lifetime with your buddies, definitely get a hold of Chris and his crew at the High Cotton!

One last pic of his boat:


  1. Love it!!
    To the point, articulate, and interesting
    Deep Sea Fishing is Awesome Thanks

  2. Hi , you write a nice post about Deep Fishing but i want to know about Deep Sea Fishing in Dubai next month i plan to go there ??