What to Know Before Booking a Charter Fishing Trip
One of the most alluring aspects of visiting the beautiful Alabama Gulf Coast is the abundant opportunities to book a charter boat for a fishing trip of a lifetime.
Alabama boasts more than 100 charter boats available to book a trip for a variety of species, including red snapper, triggerfish, amberjack and the mackerel species as well as offshore species like yellowfin tuna and wahoo.
With few exceptions, most of the popular species are managed by specific seasons, bag limits and size limits.
When you get ready for your Alabama Gulf Coast visit, make a list of questions to ask the charter boat you choose.
Of course, the first order of business is to determine how many people are in your fishing party. The charter fleet has boats of different sizes to accommodate different size parties. For trips of groups with six anglers or less, the “six-pack” boats will be your best choice. For larger parties, Alabama’s charter fleet can accommodate large groups of 25 or more anglers. Each large boat has a specific number of passengers allowed as determined by the U.S. Coast Guard. By the way, make sure you are booking a Coast Guard-approved boat. For those who want to stay within sight of the beach, consider booking an inshore fishing trip to catch species like speckled trout and redfish.
Alabama also has several party boats available for solo anglers, while other charter boats will put together single anglers to fill out the group.
After the number of anglers is set, the charter boats will be able to provide the specific fishing opportunities available on the dates of your visit.
For instance, Alabama’s premier species, red snapper, usually starts on June 1 and runs for about two months. The 2019 season was 62 days long for the charter fleet. The bag limit is two fish with a 16-inch size minimum. To ensure that anglers have a premier species to catch during times other than red snapper season, the amberjack season opens at the end of red snapper season.
Charter boats provide rods and reels for the species targeted as well as the appropriate bait. If you have a favorite rod and reel you want to bring along, make sure the boat captain gives his or her approval.
On most charter trips, the passengers will need to bring their own drinks and food unless you have made other arrangements with the captain. Most of the larger charter boats have a Big Green Egg grill on the back deck for cooking. Ask the captain or booking agent about the use of the grill during the trip. And don’t forget the sunscreen, hats and sunglasses.
Of course, the cost of the fishing trip is another question that should be discussed. A wide variety of options are available, depending on the length of the trip and the species that are targeted. Trips can be as short as four hours to as long as a two-day trip for those who want to catch the offshore species. The most common trip during red snapper season is eight to 10 hours but the option is available for up to 12 hours if you want the captain to head out a little farther into Alabama’s unparalleled artificial reef zone.
After you arrive back at the dock after a wonderful day on the water, you will likely have a box full of fish that need cleaning. The deckhands will clean and bag your fish for a per-pound fee.
Alabama’s charter captains are known for hiring deckhands who will make sure you have the best fishing trip possible. When the trip is finished, tipping the deckhands is encouraged. A tip of 20 percent of the cost of the trip is the preferred gratuity.
With Alabama’s productive fishing waters and professional charter fleet, visitors who visit the Gulf Coast have a chance to experience some of the best fishing in the world.
Open dates for charter trips fill up quickly, especially during red snapper season, so don’t hesitate to book your fishing trip as soon as possible.