The best time to catch big fish in the Gulf of Mexico is October and November, making fall a prime season to take your family to the Alabama coast and stay at a charming Gulf Shores area vacation condo or house. Plus, because all of the rentals are outfitted with full kitchens, you can take your sea harvest back to your accommodations and cook up a feast fit for royalty.

Learning from the experts

Catch a live one on a Gulf Shores fishing trip

Captain Ben Fairey, who has been fishing out of Orange Beach for 40 years, welcomes visitors who charter boats for 10 or 12 hours and try their hand at getting the day's biggest catch. With his boat, Necessity, Fairey has been the guide during nearly a dozen record-breaking fishing excursions due to his extensive knowledge of the gulf waters. This captain currently holds the state's record for the largest cobia ever caught, which weighed in at 117 pounds, 7 ounces.

If you decide to charter a boat with Fairey or any other veteran fishing captain in the Orange Beach/Gulf Shores area, you can expect to come back with an impressive catch. Whether taking your kids on the water for the first time or enjoying a day with close friends and sharing a cooler of ice-cold beer, a fishing trip this fall will undoubtedly be the highlight of your getaway.

Delicious fish

In fall and early winter, you can expect to catch amberjack, grouper, scamp, wahoo and king mackerel during your Gulf Coast fishing adventure. While each tastes delicious after being fried up with some butter or thrown straight onto a grill, you may find grouper to be the tastiest of the bunch.

Like most other deep-water bottom dwellers, the giant grouper is not easy to catch. According to Fairey, you'll have to use heavy tackle and butterfly bait to stand even a remote chance of snatching one from the water. Once one gets on your line, Fairey suggests that you reel fast and hard to get it away from the bottom before easing up slightly to switch between reeling and pulling.

Let the deckhands clean your catch and you'll be ready for a feast tonight, whether you cook it at your vacation rental home or take it to one of the restaurants that will cook it for you. You may very well have more than enough from your excursion, so pack some to travel - it will bring back great memories when you serve your delicious gulf fish at home.