Avoid the frustration and find the best Inshore Bay Fishing Guide near Orange Beach, Alabama
-- photo courtesy of John E. Phillips
Speckled Trout caught near Orange Beach, Alabama
We hear from so many customers every year, telling us that they had the best inshore fishing trip of their lifetime. Our guest talk about how their guide was a professional and knew where to go and how to catch the local fish around Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan and Mobile Bay. They fished in every weather condition imaginable and still caught fish. We know that good inshore fishing guides are extremely talented individuals and that is why they stay booked up weeks to months in advance. Most people don't know where to find the best inshore and bay fishing guides on Alabama's Gulf Coast. We want to help you find the best guides so you will have a bay fishing charter of a lifetime and not have a horrible experience like our customer did last week. Read about the worst inshore fishing experience below.
Doing a little research about inshore fishing beforehand, you can end up having the best charter in the world. Failure to do your research and take the easy way and book through a charter marina, you may end up wishing you had done your homework and asked a few more questions about the fishing guide before you booked your trip.
We have a story below from one of our customers that might interest you. He is a doctor who loves to fish and money is not the object. He simply wants to catch fish and have a good time on the water. This story is about a unpleasant inshore fishing experience this week near Gulf Shores. It is a simliar story we heard last week and we wanted to investigate and find out,"What is going on with the inshore fishing guides in Alabama?" So many people experience great fishing charters. Why did this customer have a bad experience? Customers take pictures to remember the event and tell everyone what a wonderful experience they just had. Reading this story below, may help you learn and keep from experiencing the frustration of not catching any fish on your next inshore bay charter near Gulf Shores or Orange Beach.
The worst fishing charter three years in a row - A story about not catching fish
We heard a story yesterday from a customer that said he has fished with the same inshore guide for three years in a row and has not caught any fish except a single Bull Redfish and a few hard tails. He said the inshore fishing guide was nice and was really a good guy. He just wanted to give his bay fishing guide another chance this year to produce fish. The other day, right on que, after three hours into a four hour charter, he said the inshore guide told him "The fish are simply not biting." Not knowing any better, he took him at his word again but his suspicions were growing about this guides ability to be able to produce fish. The worst thing you can tell a customer is that "the fish are not biting," especially three years in a row. Any good fishing guide will tell you, that fish are always biting somewhere. You just have to go find them.
For the third year in a row, he thought the inshore guide was telling him the truth about the fish not biting. That was until they returned to the dock and saw two other guides with their customers at the end of the dock cleaning a huge mess of Sheepshead, Speckled Trout, Black Drum, Flounder and White Trout. The customer did not have the heart to say anything to the inshore guide, but he could tell the guide was embarrassed. The customer had just spent 4 hours today and two years prior, fishing with this guide and got results that were less than what he expected. The customer was highly upset and said he would not ever return to fish with that guide again. "How can any guide be skunked, three years in a row," he asked? Why do inshore fishing guides that can't produce fish, always use the term "They must not be biting?" Having good customer service is important, but so is producing fish. Successful charter boats have to be able to do both.
I did not care which guide it was, because that was not near as important as the circumstances were. I asked the customer a few questions about his inshore fishing experience. I knew what the weather was that day, so I did not have to ask which way the winds were blowing and if the tide was moving. So, I asked where did the inshore guide take you to fish? He told me that the guide took him to the same places that he took him to two years earlier and had the same results. I asked, what type of bait did your guide use on this trip and trips before? He said the guide on the first two trips, he used live shrimp and on this trip, he used Berkley Gulps with jig heads. I asked him how did that make him feel when he saw the artificial bait? He said he felt robbed, because his perception was that live bait catches bigger and better fish. The first two years of fishing with this guide, they used live shrimp and did not catch hardly any edible fish, he felt that by switching over to artificial bait took the wind out of his sail and made him feel like he has gotten three years of fishing with a guide that simply can't catch fish unless conditions were perfect.
I asked the customer, "What did you expect to get from this fishing charter?" He said, "I wanted to catch a lot of fish." I asked him, "Do you want to keep all your fish?" He replied "No, I just wanted to catch them and keep a few for supper." What I got from the whole conversation, was that this customer wanted to catch fish and feel the tug on the line. It did not matter whether or not he could keep them or not. It was important to him to be able to have action and not excuses as to why the fish did not bite.
What's going on in the Alabama inshore fishing industry?
Before we go any further, we need to inform you about what we see going on in the Alabama inshore and bay fishing charter industry. This is only our opinion and is based on insider information that only locals would know about. Our goal is to help you make an informed decision about which inshore fishing charter and guide is best for you. In the past few years, Orange Beach, Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan, has seen a huge influx of new inshore fishing guides offering charters. Some of the inshore boats and guide services are owned and operated by former offshore guides and deckhands that chose to start their own inshore guide service because of a shift in offshore fishing to inshore fishing. Some inshore guides have recently moved to the area and wanted to go into business for themselves. The best guides grew up fishing this area and do not book through a charter office at local marinas that much. The inshore guides are really a good bunch of guys and most of them have years of experience dealing with customers in the deep sea fishery. There used to be only a dozen or so inshore guides in Orange Beach until about 2007/2008. Now there are over 32 of them competing for the same business. With high fuel prices and very competitive rates, most inshore guides are trying to remain profitable and still catch fish for their customers. There are some high end guides in the Orange Beach area that charge a little more for their trips because they know they can do what they have to do to produce fish for their guests. These guides don't use the excuses like "I guess they are just not biting." If the best inshore bay fishing guides don't catch fish, that means nobody is catching fish. The best guides are the ones who set the pace for all the other inshore fishing guides in Alabama. Some of the inshore guides that are less experienced or lazier than some of the other guides, go trolling offshore for King Mackerel and Spanish Mackerel if they can't get the inshore fish like Trout, Flounder, Sheepshead or Redfish to bite. That is not a bad thing, but some people who paid for an inshore trip don't want to go offshore and catch Mackerel or Red Snapper. Some customers just want to feel the tug on the line and catch something. I guess catching some fish is better than catching no fish. Either way, customer satisfaction is measured by the smiles on their faces and fish in a cooler, most of the time. Sometimes the fight is more important to some customers than the actual harvesting of fish.
Everyone is happy when they are catching fish. Guides are happiest when they see their customers catch fish and have a trip of a lifetime. Not many people ever dream of having a tough day fishing when they are with a professional inshore fishing guide. All of the Alabama inshore fishing guides are nice and personable. All of them know how to catch fish. The problem is, not all of the local guides can catch fish all of the time. When fishing is tough, good fishing guides are not afraid to burn the fuel and take you to and try something different to try to get the fish to bite. Alabama's Gulf Coast is a wonderful place to inshore fish when we have perfect conditions. As with any type of fishing, perfect conditions don't always exist. Are you going to be happy if your guide only tries a couple of places and then tells you that the fish are just not biting? Because of the story above, we got to thinking that not everyone has a good experience fishing. All we want to do is help you get the best fishing charter for your money so you will be happy.
Most of the inshore fishing guides operate out of large charter boat marinas such as Zekes Landing Marina, Sanroc Cay Marina, Orange Beach Marina and Gulf Shores Marina down in Fort Morgan. Zeke's and Sanroc Marinas have a lot of inshore boats that have seen the biggest influx of new inshore fishing guides to the market. There are some older, more seasoned veteran inshore guides at these marinas that are very good, but as a whole, the inshore fishing fleet from Orange Beach to Fort Morgan are new (less than 5 years) to the inshore business. Finding the older, more seasoned inshore bay fishing guides will increase your chances of having a better bay fishing charter.
Booking through a marina charter office - Why Better Inshore Charters don't come from booking offices
Most of the inshore guide boats and bay fishing charters operate out of the larger marinas in our area. The marina's have a lot of traffic that come through their doors. There are a lot of people that come to the marina's to eat at the compounds restaurants and watch the fishing boats unload today's catch. Orange Beach charter booking offices book inshore boats on a rotational basis as customers come in the door. That means when you, the consumer calls or walks in and wants to book an inshore fishing charter, you get the next boat up on the marina rotation, not the best boat for you. This system is fair for the inshore fishing guides because each of them will hopefully by years end, will have received and equal number of fishing trips from the marina booking office as the other. Trusting a marina rotation to put you on the best boat, is not always best for the consumer. Sometimes it is, but most of the time it does not produce optimal results for consumers wanting to experience a good inshore fishing charter. Some people don't really care if they catch quality fish. Some people may not know any better. If you are serious about your fun and fishing, you need to do your homework to get the best inshore fishing experience in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores.
Unlike the offshore deep sea fishing fleet, inshore fishing can be challenging for inexperienced guides. You may be getting with a guide that either is newer in business or a seasoned veteran. It is a 50/50 chance you take when trusting a marina charter office to decide which boat is best for you and your family. Remember, all of the charter boat guides are nice, but nice guys don't always catch fish.
The best way to find and book an inshore fishing charter
Here are a few tips and questions you should ask your guide so you will get the best inshore fishing charter in Orange Beach, Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan:
- Call the inshore fishing guide direct will get you the best charter. Local marina's take a 10 to 15% cut of the captains money when you book through them. With fuel prices being what they are, that percentage almost always means that the guide will not go any further than he has to go to catch you fish. Most of the guides in Orange Beach only take people to fish under the bridge or out at the jetties. Neither one of those places require the inshore guide to burn a lot of fuel. Sometimes, the bridge and jetties is the place to catch the best fish.
- When you call a fishing guide to inquire about fishing with him, ask if he has any recent fishing reports you can read about or if he has any testimonials you can read before deciding which trip is best for you.
- Decide what your budget is for an inshore fishing charter. The best inshore bay fishing trips in Orange Beach are about $400 for 4 hours for 4 people and $500 for up to 6 people. Any trip that is cheaper than that, you need to ask some questions about their trip. Some fishing guides only want to take two to three people because of the size of their boat. That is why they might be cheaper than others. Some inshore fishing guides sell price instead of good service.
- Decide what type of inshore fish you want to catch. Common inshore fish species in our Orange Beach and Gulf Shores area are Speckled Trout, Flounder, White Trout, Triple Tail, Red Drum, Black Drum, Pompano, Sheepshead, Catfish, Ladyfish or Bluefish.
- Ask your guide where do they primarily fish? Jetties, Under the Bridge, Oyster Reefs, Oil Rigs, Dixie Bar, Piers, Rivers or deep water holes. Each of these places produce fish at certain times of the day, month and year. Some produce fish during good weather or bad weather. It is of importance to at least question your inshore guide so you will know what to expect.
- Ask your guide what type of bait do they plan on using? Shrimp is an old stand by for catching most species. However, live shrimp is not the best bait to catch trout in Orange Beach. Shrimp is good for trout in Mobile Bay. Live croakers are the best bait, but many guides don't want to put in the effort to catch them for their customers. Plastics or artificial bait can also be good during certain times of the year.
- Ask your guide if he will be running the trip? Some inshore guides book a charter with you and then when you get to the boat, he has pulled a "bait and switch" on you and has someone running his boat for him. It is important to choose the best guide for you. It is more important to ensure that he will be running the trip. By the way, that is what you are paying for.
Our list of the Best Inshore Fishing Guides in Alabama - Here they are:
Captain Keith Powell of Alabama Inshore Fishing. 251.367.3464
Captain Dave Brown of Browns Inshore Guide Service 251.981.6246
Captain Jeff Chambliss at 251.979.1209
Captain Gary Davis at Tidewater Fishing Service 251.942.6298