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Fishing Alabama: Tasting The Treasures of Gulf Shores


Big Bird!

“It’s a sweet life livin' by the salty sea.” ~ Jimmy Buffett



Gulf Coast Fishing

Introduction

I woke at 5 am took the dog for a quick walk in the dark, returned, brewed some coffee, and opened my news feed for the morning ritual. Mollie (My Labradoodle) & coffee, with my Colorado State University mug in hand, a perfect start to a Saturday morning. As I scrolled down the list of articles and press releases, I read the headlines that Jimmy Buffett passed away Friday night, he was 76 years old. I stopped my news feed and read the article; it reminded me of days past, seeing him in concert, laying on a blanket, and singing along with friends at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountainview, California. What a beautiful life, and one to be remembered for his sweet spirit and fun-loving personality. In honor of his love for fishing and the Gulf’s bounty of fresh fish, I aim to share the stories of local fishermen and restaurants featuring the beautiful Gulf Shores, Alabama, bounty.



Commercial Fishing Boats

The History Of Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores didn’t incorporate until 1958, but the State Park and Intracoastal Waterway were built in the late 1930s. The State of Alabama finished Gulf State Park in 1939, drawing campers and fishermen from all over the Southeast. By 1970, the area employed 90% of its residents in fisheries, oysters, and shrimping. Hurricane Frederick came through in 1979, spawning a rebuild and development in fishing, real estate, and tourism. In the 1980s, travel and tourism opened up; my uncle remembered flying his crop duster from Jonesville, Louisiana, to The Gulf Shores Airport for his annual two-week family vacation. He remembers the days of driving down Route 59 South, passing by a tiny grocer, where you could pick a few provisions to get by until you got to the grocery mart in Pensacola, Florida. Today, Gulf Shores hosts over 8M visitors annually, generating over $7B of spending along The Gulf Coast.



The Gulf


Gulf Shores, Alabama Fishing & Fish Species

Just down the road, Bon Secour is an essential port for Alabama commercial fishing. Fishermen and anglers can access over 21 fish species along The Gulf of Mexico. As a newbie to the area, I began to think about who are these fishermen & women out catching fish and who was bringing them into port? What local fish markets are selling these high-profile catches? Which restaurants are bringing in some of the least common catches? How are chefs preparing the fish?



Flounder


Flounder and Grouper are so plentiful in the Gulf they are staples on every local restaurant menu along the coast. It reminds me of OSO, along Bear Point, they offer a whole Grouper fried sandwich. The Grouper is sweet and briny and absorbs marinades like a sponge. The texture resembles a hearty Halibut and provides a suitable replacement for Mahi Mahi.



Bayou La Batre Alabama



Featured Fish

Atlantic Tripletail is an almond-shaped fish found anywhere between New England and Argentina. When fishing the Gulf for Tripletail, it’s important to note they can be found in bays, sounds, and estuaries during the summer. It can identified by its three dorsal fins and changes color as it grows. The Tripletail lays on its side to best disguise itself near crab traps.



Alabama Shrimping Boat


Tripletail filet comes blackened in most restaurants and seals the filet during the hot sear. Blackened is a method of cooking that uses a combination of dry spices blended together, offering a rustic flavor bomb - sealing in moisture while kicking up the heat. The spice recipe usually consists of paprika, red and black peppercorn, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, and cayenne, which creates a decadent crust over the filet.



Atlantic Tripletail


Wrapping it Up

The Sea Grant research states that in the last seven years, Gulf Fishermen landed over 1.5B pounds of commercially harvestable fish and shellfish - totaling over $900M per year. Over the next 16 weeks, I will cover Gulf Shores, Alabama fisheries, and the people bringing us the most deliciously tasting fresh fish daily; featuring local restaurants where I have dined to enjoy these beauties while exploring fish markets, ports, and watering holes.



Gulf Coast Boating Life





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