10 tips you need to know when booking a fishing charter in Orange Beach, Alabama
So, your on the Alabama Gulf Coast and you& want to go charter fishing. There are some very important questions you need to ask yourself before searching for a charter boat. For those of you who are first timers or have kids, it is especially important to get with the right saltwater fishing charter in Orange Beach the first time, so you have a memorable experience. Doing a little research before hand, will almost certainly make for a memorable saltwater fishing experience. I will give you some tips and questions you need to consider before deciding which fishing charter is best for you and your family. You are welcome to visit our frequently asked questions page for more detailed information about fishing in Orange Beach.
Tip #1: Decide how many people in your group want to go fishing?
The first step you should take in planning a fishing charter, is to decide how many people in your group want to go? The number of people you have in your group will help determine where you want to fish, how long you want to fish, how much money you spend and the fish you will be able to fish for and hopefully catch.
Tip #2: Determine your fishing budget. How much do you have to spend or invest in the fishing activity?
In Orange Beach, the price you pay for a fishing charter depends on the number of people wanting to go, the length of the charter, the size of the boat and type of fishing you want to do. How much do you want to invest in a fishing charter? Fishing charters can run as little as $65 per person for a party boat trip, to over $500 per person for an overnight tuna fishing charter. Since private charters is what most of us offer, I will speak mostly about them. I will explain what the other options are for those who are on a tight budget.
Paying Deposits When Booking - Most charter boats and marinas in Orange Beach charge a 50% deposit to be paid when booking your trip. When planning a fishing trip, you have to give them money up front to book your date. The boats that are listed on this website do not take deposits on any trips less than a day. They simply take a credit card number to hold your trip. This way, you can keep your money in your pocket until the day of the trip. By giving them a cc number, they have all the information they need to secure your fishing trip. If weather keeps you from going fishing and the captain cancels the trip, you don't have to worry about getting a refund.
Tip #3: Decide what level of customer service you expect to receive for the money invested. Do you want good service and a memorable fishing charter?
In the charter fishing business, you have two types of charters. You have those who sell service and those who sell price. Price does not reflect the level of service you will receive. Some low priced charters offer good service and some high priced charters have horrible customer service and vice versa. Value is in the eye of the beholder. If you are wanting the best fishing charter and the best customer service, you need to investigate the charter boat you want to go on. I urge you to look for a fishing charter testimonial page and use your best judgement when deciding the quality of service you are willing to live with while fishing in Orange Beach.
Tip #4: Deciding where you want to fish?
You have two choices in Orange Beach, Alabama when it comes to saltwater charter fishing. You can either charter a boat that fishes inshore or offshore. Inshore charters are mostly private. Offshore charters are mostly private, but some marinas do offer walk on or shared expense trips. That topic is discussed in tip 6 below.
Tip #5: Decide how long of a charter you want to go on?
Inshore bay fishing chargers are usually 4 and 6 hours in length. There are some Offshore fishing Charters that offer 4 and 6 hour light tackle, family fun charters. Most any offshore charter boat in Orange Beach offer 6, 8, 10 and 12 hour trips. Some larger charter boats also offer overnight trips of 24 to 36 hours. Long trips are ideal for those who want to go Tuna fishing or out to the oil rigs to fish.
Tip #6: Do you want a private charter or a walk on or shared expense charter?
Private charters are the best fishing charters in Orange Beach, Alabama. Private charters are where only you and your group will be on the boat during your fishing trip. The only other people on your private fishing charter will be the deckhand and the captain. The price of a private charter is based on the fee for the entire boat for a specific number of hours. Normally, 4 hour private charters on an offshore charter boat run about $650to $750, plus tip. 6 hour charters run about $1050 to $1,100 plus tip. Because of the price of fuel rising, there may also be a fuel surcharge added without notice to the trip. The tip for the mate usually runs about 20 to 22 percent of the price of the better service charters. Private Inshore fishing charters run $400 for 4 hours for up to 4 people and $500 for 6 people. A typical inshore charter for 4 people for 6 hours runs $600. The best inshore charters are 6 hours in length because the fish bite may be better in a different area and the captain may want to drive there and let you fish.
Walk on or shared expense charters are offered to individuals by local marina charter offices for the purpose of putting people together with other people, so they can fill a charter boat to capacity. Walk on fishing trips prices are based on a per person charge, ie, $65 for 4 hour trip on a party boat or $135 for a 6 hour trip on a regular charter boat that is performing a walk on charter. The tip for a party boat deckhand or walk on charter runs 10 to 15 percent of the price you paid, per person. The gotcha is the deckhands also clean your fish for you at .30 cents per whole pound.
Tip #7: About inshore and offshore charter boats. What's the difference?
Inshore fishing charters are usually private charters and are offered by smaller charter boats that fish in and around the bays and estuaries of Orange Beach, Alabama point, Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan and Mobile Bay. These inshore charter boats are primarily center console boats with limited seating and shade. The Alabama Inshore charter boat is a perfect example of a large boat that can carry 6 people comfortably. Most inshore fishing boats in Orange Beach are 21' to 24' in length. Inshore charter boats carry up to 6 passengers per trip. Inshore boats are called 6 pack boats and bay boats. I don't know of any inshore fishing charters that carry more than 6 people per trip. Just because the boat can carry 10 or 12 people on their data plate issued by the manufacturer, does not mean they can carry that many while operating as a charter boat or "For Hire." The US Coast Guard only allows boats that are not inspected by them, to carry a maximum of 6 passengers for hire. Because of the size of these bay boats, 4 people plus the fishing guide is usually the maximum number of people allowed without pushing the comfort level of each passenger. Small kids are the exception. The 24' boats can usually accompany 6 people comfortably. The only drawback to inshore fishing is the boats don't usually have a restroom. Most of the time, you are never more than a few minutes ride from a shoreside restroom.
Offshore fishing charters are either private charters or walk on / per person charters and are offered by larger charter boats that fish out in the Gulf of Mexico. These offshore charter boats are normally 36' to 65' in length. Offshore boats are either 6 passenger or multi-passenger boats. Most of these boats are usually very comfortable. Private charters are the preferred of most fishermen. Private offshore fishing charters are ideal for those with kids.
Tip #8: The difference between 6 pack, multi-passenger and party boats!
Six passenger boats - These boats in Orange Beach are anywhere from 18 to 55 feet in length. They are called "6 Pack" boats and can carry groups from 1 to 6 "paying" passengers fishing. 6 passenger boats can either be inshore or offshore fishing boats. Offshore, 6 passenger boats can go as far as 100 miles offshore. The Distraction charter boat is a perfect example of what a good 6 passenger boat should look like. Six passenger boats that operate offshore have restrooms onboard. The average length of an offshore 6 pack boat is about 40 to 42 feet in Orange Beach. Most 6 pack boats ride good in seas up to 3 to 4 feet in height. Really good operators like the Distraction, do not fish in rough seas.
Multi-passenger boats are inspected by the US Coast Guard and the maximum number of passengers is set by their certificate of inspection or COI. These boats can carry over 7 people for hire and may not exceed the maximum number of people established by the Coast Guard's "COI." The average multi-passenger boat in Orange Beach, carries about 15 people. The Intimidator Charter boat carries up to 49 people, but it can comfortably fish 20 people per fishing trip. Some Orange Beach charter boats can carry less and some can carry more. Multi-passenger offshore fishing charters have restrooms onboard. Because the size of multi-passenger boats are similar, they ride good in seas up to 3' to 4' feet. Some larger multi-passenger boats that are 65' in length, ride good in 5' seas. The size and weight of the charter boat determines how smooth and comfortable the ride.
Party Boats or Head Boats - is another category and is considered a multi-passenger charter boat. They are inspected by the US Coast Guard annually. Most of these boats in Orange Beach are 57 to 64 feet in length and can carry up to 90 people per fishing trip. Party Boats offer walk on or shared expense charters 99.9 percent of the time. They charge a per person fee and pack people on like sardines and assign them a rail space position and a rod and reel. Party boats only offer deep sea fishing trips. Most of the fishing charters done in Orange Beach on a head boat are 4 and 6 hours in length. These charters are great for those who don't have a large budget or have enough people in their group to justify investing a lot of money in a private charter on a 6 pack or multi-passenger boat. These charters are usually $49 to $85 per person plus tip.
Tip #9: Where inshore charter boats fish and the fish they catch!
Inshore fishing includes fishing around piers, rock piles, jetties, bridge pilings, grassy flats, unseen deep holes, oyster reefs, oil and gas rigs and other structures that may hold fish. Inshore fishing charters usually produce fish species like Red Drum (Redfish), Speckled Trout (Spotted Sea Trout), Flounder, White Trout, Ladyfish, Tripletail, Pompano and Sheepshead.
Tip #10: Where offshore charter boats fish and the fish they catch!
Offshore fishing charters are boats that fish out in the Gulf of Mexico. Most charter boats offer nearshore and deep sea fishing trips. Charter boats that fish near the shore line and stay close to land, are either trolling or sight fishing. Depending on the fishing season, nearshore charter fishing trips mostly catch Spanish Mackerel, King Mackerel, Jack Crevalle, Bonita, Ladyfish and Bull Redfish. Nearshore fishing trips fish in open water with no reef or structures below.
Deep sea fishing charters are also called bottom fishing or reef fishing trips. These boats fish over artificial and natural reefs that are located on the bottom or sea floor of the gulf. Depending on the length of the fishing charter you choose, a deep sea fishing trip may let you start fishing anywhere from 8 miles offshore to over 50 miles away from land. Bottom fishing is when the charter boat stops at a specific GPS location the captain has marked or saved and hovers the boat over the reef. Each angler baits their hook and drops it below the surface of the water. When a fish bites, you fight him and reel him in. Common deep sea fish caught while bottom fishing or reef fishing are: Amberjack, Almaco Jacks, Eel, Scorpion Fish, Long Tail Bass, Tile Fish, Barrell Fish, Cobia, Lesser Amberjacks, Red Snapper, Lane Snapper, Mangrove Snapper, Triggerfish, Porgies, Grouper and Scamp. Migratory fish that can be caught while trolling offshore are: Mahi-Mahi, Wahoo, Bonita, King Mackerel, Spanish Mackerel, Blackfin Tuna, Yellowfin Tuna and Bluefin Tuna. Gamefish like White Marlin, Blue Marlin and Swordfish can be caught on Blue Water - Overnight trips.