Alabama offers some of the best deep sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. There are many types and styles of fishing charter boats serving the Alabama gulf coast. Charters are located in and depart from Orange Beach, Fort Morgan and Dauphin Island. Gulf Shores is a popular destination, but there is no actual port to depart from. Fishermen staying in Gulf Shores normally search for charters in nearby Orange Beach which is only 8 miles east. The most abundant choices of charter boats are located in Orange Beach. Orange Beach is the most logical place to start searching because most people come to the area on vacation and fishing is one of the most popular activities. Fort Morgan also gets some traffic and is growing every year. Dauphin Island has long been a place where locals go but is not convenient for those staying in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach.
Let's first start by explaining the difference between saltwater fishing charters in Alabama. Depending on the size of your group and what species you want to fish for, there are boats available to serve your needs.
Charter boats in Alabama usually offer private or walk-on deep sea fishing trips. Private charters are where only you and your group will be on the boat during the charter. Depending on the size of your group, you may have enough people to go on a private charter. Private charters are taken almost everyday and are for people who do not want to fish around someone they do not know. The advantage of a private charter is you know everyone on the boat. Private charters are usually more expensive per person, because you are paying to charter the whole boat for yourself and your group.
Walk-on fishing charters are where small groups get together with other small groups and share the cost of the charter. The advantage to a walk-on, shared expense fishing charter is cost. Not everyone has the funds to pay for a private charter. Walk-on fishing allows you to go for the charter price at a per person rate.
There are two types of charter boats. They are six passenger and multi-passenger boats. Six pack boats, also called uninforced boats, carry a maximum of six passengers for hire. That does not mean they are small or unsafe. It means that they are simply not inspected by the Coast Guard. These boats can be as small as a single gas engine outboard all the way up to a 50 foot or larger, twin diesel boat.
Six passenger boats usually give one more on one service because of the small number of passengers on board. Six passenger fishing boats usually catch as good a fish as their inspected counterparts on similar length trips.
Six passenger boats include most of the inshore fishing boats and a lot of the offshore fishing boats. Most of the inshore boats carry four passengers comfortably. Most of the offshore boats comfortably carry six passengers.
The trips offered by offshore six passenger boats are 4, 5, 6, 8, 10 and 12 hours in length. Although not required, six passenger offshore boats typically provide a deckhand to serve the customers. Inshore boats usually offer 4 and 6 hour trips and have no deckhand or mate.
The cost or price of a charter on an offshore six passenger fishing trip varies from boat to boat and usually increases a little every year. Alabama Offshore boats are priced from $ 500 to $ 700 for a 4 hour trip. Half day, 6 hour trips run from $ 900 to $ 1100. Full day trips range from $ 1600 to $ 2400. The deckhands are paid a percentage of the total cost of the charter in the form of a tip or gratuity. Tips range from 15% to 20% of the price of the charter depending on the quality of service the mate gives you. Most deckhands and mates charge .30 cents per whole pound to clean your fish. There are some charters that include fish cleaning and tip in the charter price.
The second type of charter boat in Alabama is one that is called an inspected vessel or a multi-passenger. An inspected charter boat means that the US Coast Guard performs annual safety inspections and these boats may carry more than six passengers for hire. The number of passengers allowed on board is determined by the Certificate of Inspection issued by the USCG. These boats are about the same size as some of the six passenger boats and larger.
Inspected fishing boats are broken down into two categories. The first category is what we call a multi-passenger. A multi-passenger boat is ideal for groups of more than six passengers. They fish the same way six passenger boats do and catch mostly the same fish species. Most multi-passenger boats offer day trips such as the 4, 5, 6, 8, 10 or 12 hour trips. The minimal crew on the boat on a day trip is one captain and one deckhand. The size of the group determines if additional deckhands are required. Some multi-passenger charter boats offer overnight trips of 18, 24 and 36 hours. Any trip over 12 hours in length requires two captains and additional deckhands on board to adhere to strict watch keeping rules established by the USCG.
The price of a multi-passenger trip varies from boat to boat. Multi-passenger boats typically have a flat rate for private charters up to 10 passengers on each charter and then charge 10% of that price for every person over the flat rate minimum. Some charter boats charger twice to three times the price of a six passenger boat on similar trips. Depending on the size of the boat, whole day trips and overnight trips cost $ 5,000 to $ 6,000 plus tip and fish cleaning.