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John's Journal... Entry 217, Day 1


Charter-Boat Fishing At Orange Beach

Editor's Note: Anglers, don't forget that you can't catch and keep red snapper from the Gulf of Mexico after October. But you can participate in the Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo at Orange Beach/Gulf Shores and win prizes and money this month. I always enjoy going out of Orange Beach during October because the captains there always help their clients catch plenty of big red snapper, triggerfish, grouper and amberjack. Recently, while in Orange Beach, I talked with Stacey Tatum, the booking agent for several charter boats in Orange Beach. I asked Tatum to name the most-common questions asked by people who wanted to book charters and go snapper fishing and then asked her to answer the questions.

Question: What will the weather be like?
Answer: Even the weatherman doesn't know the answer, because the weather at the beach changes from day to day and often from hour to hour.

Question: What will you catch bottom fishing on a charter boat?
Answer: Usually you'll catch snapper, grouper, triggerfish, amberjack and often king mackerel.

Question: What's a charter-boat trip like?
Answer: You need to arrive 30 minutes before the boat's scheduled to leave shore. On a 6-hour trip, a charter boat will go 5- to 7-miles out from shore. You'll go out 20 miles on a 10-hour trip and 40- to 50-miles out on a 12-hour trip. You'll spend about 45 minutes to 1-1/2 hours onboard the boat before you get to start fishing.

Question: Can I bring my baby with me?
Answer: Yes, but if the baby gets sick, and your family has to return to shore, you'll have to pay for the trip.

Question: Should I take medicine for seasickness?
Answer: If you think you'll get seasick, take the medicine. Question: Do I have to tip the mates? Answer: No, but tipping the mates 15 percent is customary because like waiters in restaurants, mates receive no salary.

Question: Do I have to pay for fish cleaning?
Answer: No, you can clean your own fish. Deckhands generally charge 30 cents a pound to clean fish.

Question: Can I take my hand-held GPS (Global Positioning System) with me?
Answer: No. If the captain or the deckhand sees a client using a GPS to mark the spots the boat's fishing, the trip will be immediately cancelled.

Question: Why can't we cancel a trip the day before, if the weather looks bad?
Answer: Remember that weather here on the Gulf changes rapidly. Too, the captain has already made a commitment to fish, made all the plans and bought the bait.

Question: How much deposit will book and hold a trip?
Answer: Most charter-boat captains require a payment of 50 percent.

Question: What time will the boat return?
Answer: If you've booked a 6-hour trip, you'll be back 6 hours after you leave the dock and 8 hours after you leave the dock on an 8-hour trip.

Question: Why can't we keep the sharks we catch?
Answer: Sharks are dangerous, and if they are brought on board, someone can get hurt.

Question: If we decide to cut the trip short, can we get a refund?
Answer: If the captain decides that the weather is too bad and cancels the trip, you do get a refund. If the captain decides that the weather is fishable, but you want to come in, you don't get a refund.

Question: Does the boat have a bathroom?
Answer: Yes.

Question: Is the boat air-conditioned?
Answer: Some of the boats are, and some are not.

Question: If I charter a six-passenger boat, why can't I bring seven people?
Answer: The Coast Guard rates the number of passengers a boat can carry, and the boat is not permitted to carry more than its prescribed number of passengers.

Question: Are food and beverages included in the price of the trip?
Answer: No, you bring your own food and beverages. However, for an additional fee, the booking agent can make these arrangements for you.

Question: Can I bring my own tackle and equipment?
Answer: Yes.

Question: Does the captain use live bait?
Answer: Sometimes the captains do, and sometimes they don't, depending on how hard live bait is to catch.

Question: Do I need a fishing license?
Answer: No.

Question: Why can't boats take walk-on reservations sooner than the day before the trip?
Answer: If the boat has an opportunity to charter for the day, then it will charter. Walk-up reservations are usually for the boats that don't have charters that day.

Question: Why do some boats charge more than other boats?
Answer: Some captains fish only public reefs, while other captains build their own private reefs, which costs a captain much more than fishing public reefs. Fishing private reefs means you'll often have better fishing than you will on public reefs.

Question: What happens if the captain calls the trip off or ends the trip early?
Answer: You'll get a refund on your money, if the weather's unfishable, or the boat breaks down.

Question: Why does the mate throw some fish back and not others?
Answer: Almost every species has length and/or bag limits. If a fish is too short or too long, or if the party has already caught its limits, the mate will throw the fish back.

Question: Why haven't we caught as many fish as the boat we saw come in yesterday?
Answer: Salt-water fishing is like any other type of fishing. The more experience an angler has at catching fish, the more fish he or she will catch.

To learn more about fishing at the Gulf, call Stacey Tatum at (877) 783-3474, e-mail jmurphy@gulftel.com. or go to www.alabamadeepseafishing.com. Also, contact the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitor's Bureau at (800) 745-7263 or go to www.alabamatravel.org or www.orangebeach.com.




Check back each day this week for more about FISHING AT ORANGE BEACH - THE SALT-WATER FISHING CAPITAL ...

Day 1 - Charter-Boat Fishing At Orange Beach
Day 2 - October Salt-Water Fishing
Day 3 - Fishing On Orange Beach
Day 4 - Catch The Kings
Day 5 - Bet On The Jacks And Other Salt-Water Fish

John's Journal