Your Alabama beach trip is booked, and you’re ready to reel in a monster so you can snap the perfect photo for Instagram, then grill it up for dinner. If your fishing trip is a flop, you’ll disappoint your followers and your hungry family.
Alabama deep sea fishing is some of the best in the world, but it’s not a sport for beginners. If you don’t know the local waters like the back of your hand, attempting an offshore trip without some serious planning isn’t just a waste of time and money, it can be downright dangerous.
But not to worry – there are a few easy ways to make sure you enjoy your day on the water, land loads of fish, and return safely to shore with a whole album full of trophy photos.
Here are our top 5 Alabama fishing tips to know before you go.
1. Hire a Deep Sea Fishing Guide
Booking a fishing charter is the best decision you can possibly make, if you actually want to catch fish. A local deep sea fishing guide will take the guesswork out of getting bites, so you can sit back, relax, and wait for that rod to bend.
On your own, it would be nearly impossible to locate the best fishing spots, but your guide will know exactly where to find the wrecks, rocks, and man-made structures target species love to hang out around.
A good guide will also know what kind of bait and gear to use, and everything you need will be handed to you when you board the charter vessel. No need to haul your own equipment from home, although you can if you really want to.
Most Alabama charter guides fish year-round, so they know how seasonal changes in factors like water temperature and quality affect fishing, and they’ll adjust accordingly. They also tend to exchange endless text messages with their guide friends, so they’ll know more than you ever could about what fish are biting where, in real time.
Last but not least, a guide will keep you safe. Navigating unfamiliar waters, especially deep waters, can be treacherous. Landmarks are often confusing to novice boaters, and unexpected storms can blow you off course. Leaving these worries to the professionals is a no-brainer.
2. Choose Your Charter Wisely
Alabama fishing charters are not one size fits all. Take advantage of the many options available to find a guide that shares your priorities and can accommodate your group.
Most guides have websites, and you can usually get a feel for the type of client they serve by clicking around for a few minutes.
Families or groups of friends with less than six people often prefer to hire a private charter. Larger groups might choose to board a party boat that can accommodate 25 or more anglers.
Some guides will encourage catch and release fishing, while others will enjoy filling up the cooler and filleting your fresh catch for you at the dock. Charters can be educational, or they can be all about going after the big ones.
If you have kids, look for a family-friendly guide. Shorter trips can be nice for kids who are just learning to fish. You’ll also want to take your budget into consideration, although the cheapest option probably isn’t the best. Nobody wants to ride 20 or more miles offshore in a discount boat.
3. Practice Your Fish Identification
You’ll have more fun and avoid looking like a total newbie if you have some basic knowledge of the local fish species you might catch.
On shorter charters, you’ll stay closer to shore and you might catch triggerfish, red snapper, vermilion snapper, king mackerel, and bonita. During the fall months, it’s possible to get lucky and reel in an amberjack.
If you book a guide to take you out for 8 hours or more, you’ll venture farther from the coast. Gag, red, and scamp grouper inhabit Alabama’s deeper waters, and the snappers tend to be bigger and better for eating the farther offshore you go.
Avid anglers who book overnight fishing trips can look forward to going after yellowfin tuna, blackfin tuna, swordfish and pelagic shark species.
4. Pack a Bag
Don’t show up empty handed on the day of your charter. Every good angler comes prepared with a few basic items.
The Alabama sun can be relentless, so it’s important to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat. A painful sunburn can ruin your vacation, so wear a shirt with a UPF sun protection factor of 50 or higher.
Check with your guide to see if water will be provided. If not, bring your own – and lots of it. Staying hydrated will help give you strength to fight the fish. Speaking of strength, snacks are also essential for keeping your energy up. Chips and granola bars hold up well in the heat. Just never bring a banana on the boat!
If you suffer from seasickness, consider taking some motion sickness medication a few hours before you board your charter. There are also a variety of wristbands and patches on the market that can help you avoid feeling nauseous on the water.
Last but not least, bring your camera, or at least a smartphone with a camera. You’ll definitely want to document your catch (or catches!) of the day.
5. Manage Your Expectations
Deep sea fishing is most enjoyable when you keep an open mind. Being surprised by what you reel in is all part of the fun, and having a specific fish in mind can mean setting yourself up for disappointment. Let the ocean surprise you!
Alabama fishing regulations exist to keep fish populations strong, and there will be times when your catch doesn’t meet the slot size limits. As delicious as that little red snapper looks, you’ll have to release it. The good news is there will always be dozens of world-class seafood restaurants to choose from at the end of the day.
Get Ready for the Fishing Trip of a Lifetime
After your deep sea fishing charter is booked, the only thing left to do is get ready to have the time of your life. The fish are always biting in Alabama, and they will be waiting for you! Contact us to learn more and reserve your day on the water.