By Captain Troy Frady
One of the most affordable ways to go deep sea fishing in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Alabama is to go on a party boat or a head boat. Contrary to what you may be thinking, party boat has nothing to do with partying or having a party. Party boat and head boat trips is where multiple parties, individuals or small groups pay a fee and get on a large boat and go off shore fishing. Most boats carry up to 50 passengers or more at a time. The average party boat trip has 20 to 30 people on board. Currently, there are six boats in Orange Beach and one in Fort Morgan available to serve you.
Party boats or head boats are ideal for moms, dads and kids who want to go fishing while on vacation in Gulf Shores. This type of trip is excellent for first timers and those who are on a real tight budget. They are a chance to take an introductory trip at a cheap price.
Most of them offer 4 and 6 hour trips. Their trips are mostly made up of small groups that join other small groups and go together. This is called walk on or shared expense trips. This is their primary business. They also allow riders to pay and go and see what it is like.
The price varies from boat to boat. The most affordable priced 4 hour trip is at the Hudson Marina on board the America II. They offer party boat trips that cost each person $54.00 total. Other marina’s prices for 4 hours are about $65.00 per person. The 6 hour trips range from $65.00 to $85 per person, depending on the boat and which marina they operate out of.
Some boats charge $95 per person during the Red Snapper season of June and July, which includes the price of a tournament ticket for the Red Snapper World Championship Tournament. If you do not want to participate in the tournament or pay an extra $10, you need to ask the charter office before you book your trip. Remember, the deckhands make their money from tips. Tips are usually 10 to 15% of the price of the charter per person and they will clean your fish for .30 cents per whole pound of your fish.
Party Boats are docked and sail from Orange Beach’s large charter marinas such as Hudson Marina, Zeke’s Marina, Sanroc Cay, Outcast Marina and at the Flora Bama. The one in Fort Morgan is located at the Gulf Shores Marina. These marinas have a lot of customer traffic and visitors that are eating at their restaurants and looking at the fish coming off the private charter boats.
The advantage of going deep sea fishing on a party boat is the price. The low prices allow people on the tightest budgets to go and enjoy a boat ride and a fishing trip. The second advantage is that most of their trips are 4 or 6 hours in length. They all catch good fish and offer a chance to be on the water.
The disadvantage of going on a party boat is being on crowded boat and fishing beside anglers that you may not know. Another disadvantage is that you may spend a lot of time tangled up, waiting on a deckhand to come and untangle you. The final disadvantage is if you get sick, you can’t ask the boat to take you in. There are other people on the boat that may not get sick and it would be rude to ask them to take you in and cut everyone else’s trips short just because you feel bad.
Remember, if your group is from 1 to 6 passengers, and you do not want to be on a crowded boat, the best alternative in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores is a private charter.
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