Ole’ Kenneth Klamshell might not know a lot about highfalutin topics but as my name clearly insinuates, fishin’ is right up my alley! I grew up a fishin’ where my daddy learned how, and where his daddy learned how, which was a trout fishin’ in a natural cold spring fed stream. But when the Lil’ Mrs. and I started parking our Class A RV on our lot at Buena Vista Motor Coach Resort, we saw all the great big charter boats covered with fishin’ rods and I new I had to give it a try. I found these four fantastic tips from some of the experts at Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism.
1. Orange Beach boasts one of the largest charter fishing fleets in the Southeast: more than 100 charter fishing captains. In addition, Alabama has one of the largest artificial reef programs in the world! The artificial reef building program started in 1953 with 250 car bodies sunk off the shoreline. Reef systems include car bodies, culverts, bridge rubble, barges, boats and even planes.
2. There are at least four types of charter fishing trips on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Your schedule, the size of your group, what you hope to catch and, of course, your budget, will help determine which type of trip you take.
- Inshore and nearshore fishing allows you to fish in the bay, bayou delta or Gulf, but near the shore. These trips, typically four hours, are ideal for first-timers and children.
- Six-pack deep sea charters are great for those who want to fish in small groups of up to six people. These boats have a restroom on board and many have a shaded area or cabin with air conditioning. Many are heated as well, making winter fishing even better. With a six-pack charter, fees are generally paid for the entire group for a designated time period.
- Multi-passenger deep sea fishing charters accommodate groups of seven or more. Some boats do offer walk-ons, allowing last-minute guests to join a scheduled charter. This keeps the per-person cost down. Just like six-pack charters, these boats will also have restroom facilities and air conditioning.
- Headboats, also known as party boats, can accommodate up to 100 people. Headboats generally provide four-hour trips and are great for families. These are also some of the most economical charter fishing trips available.
3. Deckhands are typically paid via tips. A deckhand’s day begins long before you board the boat, usually several hours before you depart. Once the boat returns, they help clean your fish and then clean the boat. It’s a long day of work. The customary gratuity for a deckhand is 15 to 20 percent of the trip price. This does not include your fish cleaning fee, which is generally 30 cents per pound.
4. A number of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach restaurants will cook your catch! You just spent all day reeling in the mother of all red snapper, and those arms of yours may now be too tired to prepare it yourself. That’s no problem during a vacation to Alabama’s beaches. Check out the Cook Your Catch restaurant directory for chefs who will blacken or fry and make a masterpiece out of your fresh catch.
Well, there you have it. My favorite tip is tip #3. I remember one trip the weather had run afoul, and let’s just say it wasn’t a great day on the water for some of the landlubbers. Ole’ Kenneth himself hugged a rail and fed a few fish from topside, if you know what I mean. And the poor deckhands were the saddest guys on the boat, because they knew it was a day of no income for them. So, take care of your deckhands, they do a great job keeping everyone safe and happy. And if you’re coming for a stay at Buena Vista Motor Coach Resort, look into a local charter, and spend a few hours in the beautiful Gulf waters.