Orange Beach Charter Fishing Definitions and Terms

There are many of you who like to read and educate yourselves. This fishing definitions page will define everything we can think you need to know about fishing charters in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Alabama. You may also read our Frequently Asked Questions about Charter Fishing.

Charter Fishing Boat -

Is a boat that operates for hire and charges a fee to carry people fishing.


Charter Boat Rotation - How some Marina's Book Charters!

There are three charter boat marinas and a few booking agents in Orange Beach that take reservations and place customers on boats based on a rotational basis. Rotation means that you may not get the fishing charter you desire unless you specifically know what type of fishing trip you are searching for. The marinas fill their company owned boats first, unless you specifically ask for a boat that you have heard of by name. Rotation means you get the next charter fishing boat available on the charter rotation cycle located in the charter booking office.  The marina charter office staff will usually not tell you about other charters that might give you a better experience because that takes too much time. You tell the charter office how long of a trip you want and your budget, then they offer you the next boat available in that price range.   This charter boat rotation benefits the marina owners, the boat owner and crew and insures that they get some equal business from the marina. Marinas that use a charter boat rotation are looking out for the marina's and the charter boats best interest, not necessarily the consumers best interest. This is why booking a charter direct may be a better choice for you.


Charter Boat Captain and Crew -

The crew of a charter boat usually consists of a Captain and possibly a deckhand. Most deep sea fishing charters have a deckhand that works on back deck of the boat and assists the anglers during their fishing trip. Depending on the length of the trip and the number of people on the charter boat, the boat may have to have a 2nd captain (trips longer than 12 hours) or have a second deck hand for groups of 15 or more. All of our captains are in Drug and Alchohol testing programs that ensure your guides are "drug and alcohol free."   If you book a fishing charter for longer than 12 hours, you need to ensure that the charter boat has the second captain and deckhand on board.  This is a safety requirement from the US Coast Guard.

Orange Beach Deep Sea Fishing -

In Alabama, deep sea fishing is commonly known as trolling fishing, bottom fishing or reef fishing. It means going away from land to the "deep sea" and fishing. Any charter boat can carry you deep sea fishing. Most of the time, because of comfort, the larger boats like 6 passenger or Multi-passenger boats are more popular choices. They usually offer comfort and restrooms. Most deep sea fishing charters use heavy tackle and 40 pound test line or larger to catch fish. There is one deep sea fishing charter in Orange Beach that uses light tackle for reef fishing. That boat is the Distraction. Distraction is known for great customer service and makes fishing fun for the entire family.

Inshore Fishing or Back Bay Fishing -

Inshore fishing means fishing near the shore line, in the bays, on the flats, in the marsh, under piers, under bridges, near the jetties. It does not mean going out in the Gulf of Mexico. That is called near shore fishing. Inshore fishing in Orange Beach, is a style of fishing that usually encompasses ultra light tackle or light tackle, and our Inshore Fishing Charter fishes for species like Speckled Trout, Flounder, Sheepshead, Pompano, Redfish and Black Drum. Most of the boats that fish inshore are 20 to 25 feet in length. Most are center consoles and do not have a restroom onboard.

Six Pack Charter Fishing Boat

This is a charter boat that can carry a maximum of 6 passengers for hire. It does not mean that the boat is small or little by any means. There are inshore fishing charters and offshore fishing boats that operate as 6 pack boats. Most 6 passenger boats are generally 20 to 25 ft for inshore boats and 36 to 50 ft for offshore boats. 6 passenger charter boats can go up to 100 miles from shore, which is allowed by the captains license. Distraction Charter Boat is an obivious choice if you have 6 people or less in your group. They are also excellent for 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12 hour fishing trips. The Distraction is one of the most requested fishing charters operating in the Gulf of Mexico.

Multi-Passenger Charter Fishing Boat -

Multi-passenger boat is a charter boat that can carry the number of people that the US Coast Guard says it can carry. Some larger boats like party boats can carry up to 90 passengers at a time. Most of offshore, multi passenger fishing charters, take anywhere from 12 to 20 people at a time, fishing. Most have enough rail space to fit 12 to 15 people beside each other without getting tangled up all the time. Most multi passenger boats are 40 to 65 ft long in Orange Beach. Most multi passenger fishing boast are also able to go up to 100 miles from land, to fish for legal sized reef fish species like Grouper and Amberjack. There are some multi passenger boast that have a coastwise limitation (defined below). The Intimidator is your only choice for overnight fishing charters or if you have a large group.

Multi-Passenger 20 Mile Coastwise Limitation -

Most multi-passenger boats in Orange Beach are licensed to go up to 100 miles offshore. However, there are some multi passenger charter boats have a limit of 20 miles from land. Even though there are only a few of them in Orange Beach, you need to know about it. It is illegal to take you beyond the 20 mile coastwise boat limit. If your group is 7 people or larger, you need to ask how far will you go out? Also ask, if their boat is a 20 mile boat or a 100 mile boat? Short trips of 4 and 6 hours are excellent on these boats that have a coastwise restriction. If you want a longer trip and have expectations of having a chance to catch legal sized Grouper and Amberjack, you need to take a longer fishing charter of 8 hours or more (10 or 12 hour charters are better). Realistically, because of fishing pressure close to shore, most of the fish within 30 miles of Orange Beach, Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan are limited to a few reef fish species.

Private Fishing Charter -

Private fishing charters are where everyone on the boat is from the same group for one fee or price. These trips are not priced as a per person rate like walk on fishing charters are. Only you and your family and friends are on the boat. You are paying for the entire boat to take you fishing. 6 passenger and Multi passenger boats offer private fishing charters.

Shared Expense Fishing Charter -

A shared expense fishing charter is where you join others or other small groups until the charter boat is at maximum capacity or have a minimum number of people to go. Most multi passenger charters have a minimum of 10 people before they will go fishing. Six passenger boat have a minimum of 6 people before they will go. The cost of the charter is divided as a per person fee with a minimum number of people. Shared expense charters are a great place to find an economical fishing charter without having to invest in a premium charter.

Party Boat and Head Boat Fishing Charter -

A party boat is a multi passenger fishing charter that carries people for hire for a per person fee. Party boats usually have a minimum 20 people signed up to go before they will take you fishing. The cost is from $49 to $85 per person, plus tip and fish cleaning. Most party boats only go for 4 or 6 hour fishing trips. Privately booked party boats will go for as long as you are willing to pay the fee. Party boats in Orange Beach are mostly larger boats of 57 feet up to 70 feet. They can carry up to 50 to 90 people, depending on how many people the coast guard allows them on their certificate of inspection. There are some of them that have a coastwise limitation of 20 miles. Most can go up to 100 miles offshore. You can charter them for private trips but most of the time, they take large groups of people and put them together for a walk on fishing charter. Party boats take you out deep sea fishing and everyone holds a pole and fishes at the same time. This is called reef fishing or bottom fishing. Party boats run every day during the tourist season in Spring Break and from June 1 to August 15. The key to getting on a party boat is them having enough people signed up to make the trip possible.

Reef Fishing or Deep Sea Fishing -

This is where the charter boat goes offshore to a natural or artificial reef. The captain does not usually anchor the boat. He figures out the hold up and he holds the boat or hovers over the reef while you fish. Everyone on the charter boat, baits their hook with either live bait or cut bait and drops their lines below the boat. When a fish hits your bait, you fight him and reel him in. The most common fish you can catch while deep sea fishing are: Red Snapper, Vermilion Snapper, White Snapper (Red Porgy), Lane Snapper, Triggerfish, Grouper, Amberjack, Almaco Jack, Ruby Lips, Scamp Grouper, Tile Fish and more.

Charter Boat Hold Up -

Hold up is a manuever where the charter boat captain positions the boat to where he can hover over the fishing reef and not drift of the spot while you are bottom fishing. Charter Captains have to point the nose of the boat into the wind and take into consideration current and tidal movement. Failure to hold the charter boat still will result in your fishing lines going underneath the boat and your fishing line getting caught in the propellers. Hold up can be easy or difficult. Some captains are good at it, but some of them continue to spin out and drift off the spot and tangle up your lines. Your captain or mate will instruct you to reel up and re-drop when he thinks he is in position and has the hold up figured out again.

Trolling Fishing Charter-

Trolling is where you place the rods and reels in the rod holder on the charter boat keeps moving and drags lures behind the charter boat until you get a strike. Not everyone fishes at the same time. You have to take turns reeling them in. We commonly go through a school of fish where we catch more than one fish at a time. It is hectic and fun trying to fight the fish without getting them tangled up by crossing the lines. Fish we commonly catch trolling are: King Mackerel, Spanish Mackerel, Bluefish, Jack Crevalle, Bonita, Wahoo, Dorado (Mahi-Mahi), Yellowfin Tuna, White Marlin, Blue Marlin and and Bonita.

Near Shore Fishing Charter -

Near Shore fishing is a fishing charter that keeps you near land or near the shore but out in the Gulf of Mexico. Most of these fishing trips are done by larger charter boats because of comfort and restrooms on board. Near Shore fishing charters mostly do trolling fishing trips because there are no reefs near the shore. Near Shore fishing charters fish for Spanish Mackerel, King Mackerel, Bluefish, Bonita, Bull Redfish and Jack Crevalle. Sometimes during the Winter you can sight fish for Bull Redfish. In the Spring, we sight fish for Cobia. Cobia fishing is like a guided Turkey hunt. It is trophy fishing and is not for everyone. It is a lot of riding and when you see one swimming, you can cast on him. Cobia weigh from 15 to 100 lbs each and are always swimming to the west, right off the beach. It is best during late March to late April each year.

Sight Fishing Charter -

Sight Fishing in Alabama is where you use your sight to spot the fish. We do have some inshore fishing areas and flats where an angler can see fish swimming on the surface and cast a lure or bait to them in hopes of them biting it. Sight fishing is also good during the Spring Cobia fish run where we ride east and west along the beaches of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach and look for these fish swimming just underneath the surface.  When you see one, you can cast your lure or bait to them in hopes of getting a bite.

Garbone or Gar (funny) -

A Gar or Garbone is referred to by captains and deckhand as the "mentality of a person who has really high expectations of killing fish for a cheap price." Historically, a Garbone was a person who showed up for a walk-on fishing charter with a plastic garbage can filled with fishing gear and would expect to leave the boat with the garbage can full of fish. The word gar originated from all of the people bringing GARbage cans on the boat with them. If you want to see an older more competitve captain or deckhand squirm, just tell him that you want to kill a lot of fish and big ones on a short trip. Tell him you used to catch big ones on the last trip. He will think you are a GAR. It is comical and you can have some fun if you are with the right captain. If you get the wrong captain or deckhand, you can ruin their day if you tell them you want Grouper or Amberjack on a 8 hour or shorter fishing trip. As silly as it is, it really gets to some people.

Our captains are professionals and will laugh with you if you "place your order." We give you honest expectations of the day ahead. We don't promise you something that we can't deliver. If you want big fish, you need to plan on a longer fishing trip and specifically fish for a species in order to have a chance to catch them. If you want Grouper or Amberjack, you need to plan on a 10 or 12 hour trip to reasonably have a chance to catch them. Remember fishing pressure close to shore for Grouper or Amberjack is intense. You have to go to reefs further offshore to have a chance to catch legal sized fish like these. In Orange Beach, the most abundant fish is the Red Snapper. They can be caught on 6 hour trips easily.


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Orange Beach Marina

27075 Marina Road
Orange Beach, Alabama 36561