Free Griddle with PK360 Purchase

The PK and the Gulf Coast - Fishing for the Grill

Posted by Matt Rowe on 15th Jul 2016

Taking a  PK Grill to the Gulf Coast is a perfect excuse to charter an offshore fishing trip. This photo essay shows going from sea to grill on a perfect July day. Thanks to Cliff Adams with Red Eye Charters (Facebook page here) for taking us out on our expedition.

When I was first asked to work with PK Grills, they gave me the rundown on the aluminum charcoal grill and smoker. One of the main points was that it doesn't rust, even in a harsh salt water beach environment. I knew at that point that I would have to take it with me when I made my way to Alabama's Gulf Coast later that year. I was traveling with a large crew, and knew that a chartered fishing trip would be a great way to get out, see the area, and come back with enough food for a group with over 20 people.

To get out on the water, we met up with Cliff Adams of Red Eye Charters on his boat the Rig Runner. A boat captain for nine years, Cliff has been working on boats in the Gulf Coast since he was 13 years old. The Rig Runner is built for speed, and can top out around 45 miles per hour on the water. Opting for a smoother ride for us land lovers, Cliff makes his way out at about 30 mph, which means our trip offshore will be about an hour. Today we're out looking for red snapper.

We lucked in to being out at a good time - it's early morning and red snapper season will be ending soon. We're searching for snapper over 20 lbs, and most of the fish that we bring in on our 80 lb. test line are around 15-20 lbs. Fishing for these is a fight. While the king mackerel, which is also in the area, when hooked, will fight and dart around, sometimes severing the line with its teeth. The red snapper, on the other hand, is almost a dead weight feeling, and getting them up to the boat is a test of endurance, not strength. It's an amazing feeling, even on just a 15 lb. fish, hooking a fish and bringing it up. 

Fishing with an experienced guide like Cliff is a great way to get up to speed on the area. On our 4+ hour trip, we talked about the diversity of fish in this area, how commercial fishing boats work, what restaurants are looking for, how the gulf has changed since the oil spill, on hooking monster eels and on searching for tuna over the continental shelf. Our limit was 12 red snapper, two for each of us. The time passed by very quickly.

Of course, we weren't alone in our hunt out there. The picture above looks a surreal piece of collage art, but the artist is a very hungry bull shark. Cliff says the sharks have been more and more of a nuisance lately, and tells us that it's somewhat urgent in bringing the fish up to the surface once hooked -- it's a competition between us and the sharks.

At the end of our tour, Cliff unloads the snapper, racks them up for documentation, and then begins cleaning them. We're preparing to grill these reds, so Cliff makes two clean cuts on each fish, making large filets with the skin on, which will create a buffer on the grill between the fire and the fish, and allow the heat to penetrate the center of these 1 1/2 - 2 inch pieces.

Luckily, our large group includes a professional chef in the ranks, and she makes up a blackening rub out of what's available in our rental's kitchen. While we get our charcoal ready, she combines the following to rub the top side of the fish in:

    1/2 cup Salt

    1 tbsp Black Pepper

    1/2 tsp Cumin

    1 tsp Cayenne Pepper

    1 tsp Paprika

    1 tsp Garlic Powder

    1/2 tsp Dry Thyme

Once you oil the grates of your grill, you're ready to  put it directly over the coals. You may notice that we're using lump charcoal in the grill. I prefer to use briquettes, but the scant few stores in the area only had two bags of lump charcoal left. Make sure to prepare accordingly.

Lemon and lime slices are placed on the fish, and we first place the fish skin up on our PK. We close the lid for about 5-8 minutes to get a good grill on the top of the fish, before flipping it over to finish skin side down. These are thick filets, so you have to take special care to make sure that the fish doesn't get too hot, as it will become flakey and not so good for eating. This is another area the PK shines in, as the control given by the PK Grill means I can get my temperatures just right, making a difficult process of balancing high heat and the low and slow heat needed to cook it through the center. Near the end, a little bit of butter on the fish will finish it out, along with a squeeze from the lemons grilled along with it.

And the finished result. It's a real pleasure to wake up before the sun and finish a meal for a large group as the sun is going down, all from your own work on the boat. The red snapper was cooked perfect and tender, making for a wonderful time. To learn more about the last grill you'll ever own, even if you're in a corrosive salt water environment, visit