Experience the deep sea fishing Gulf Shores has at its fingertips, and you won’t look back. This town is all about the water. From its white sandy beaches to the seafood in the restaurants, the ocean shapes the way life is lived in these parts. Charter a boat, and you will be able to live this life yourself.
Alabama may not have a whole lot of coastline for a state of its size. But if there ever was a case study of ‘making every little count,’ this is it. Look out to sea from Gulf Shores, and you won’t only be facing towards waves. The gradually sloping seafloor stretching out before you actually holds thousands of artificial reefs hidden beneath the surface. And if there’s one thing that fish really can’t resist, it’s a reef.
Thanks to the work of the state and local fishermen, the seafloor near Gulf Shores and Orange Beach has changed dramatically over the last 40 years. Now, there are thousands of public and private reefs here to attract tasty fish. And that’s just where the deep sea fishing story begins.
Where To Fish
If you’re looking for a fun offshore fishing experience, you don’t need to travel far to get to the action out of Gulf Shores. King and Spanish Mackerel, Red Snapper, Mangrove Snapper, Gag Grouper, Red Grouper, Triggerfish, and Sharks can be found anywhere from a few miles from the coast. While this doesn’t count as ‘deep sea fishing’ in the true sense of the word (the seas here are only about 70 ft deep), bottom fishing for Snappers and Groupers is commonly advertised as such.
Longer trips will allow you to travel further out and explore waters with less fishing pressure, but it’s only once you take a trip lasting 10 or more hours that you will notice much of a change in the seafloor. Waters over 100 ft deep are a good 20 miles away and the continental shelf only drops for real around 35-50 miles from the coast. This is when you start to see an increased bite from pelagics such as Blackfin Tuna, Wahoo, and Mahi Mahi (Dolphin).
It may take some time for the seafloor to drop, but once it does, it takes its job seriously. Go due south from Gulf Shores for 50 miles, and most of that time your depth sounder will be reading well under 200 ft. Then, suddenly, you’re over 600 ft of water, and the bottom is dropping fast. Just 30 miles from the drop off, the seafloor is 3000 ft beneath the surface. Not only is this deep enough to attract some seriously interesting fish, these waters are also home to a string of offshore oil rigs, which serve up some of the best big game fishing in the whole of the Gulf of Mexico.
If there’s one thing fishing in Gulf Shores is famous for, it’s bottom fish. Anything from a five hour trip up can get you bottom fishing with live or frozen bait for a host of Snappers, Groupers, and Triggerfish. Popular choices include Cigar Minnows, Menhaden, Pinfish, and cut Squid.
Try deep sea fishing in the true sense of the term, and you’ll be fishing 60 plus miles offshore. Here, you can deep drop for Snowy Grouper, Yellowedge Grouper, Golden and Blueline Tilefish, Longtail Seabass, and many more eye-catching and mouthwatering species. Electric reels are generally supplied for deep dropping charters.
But it’s not just about the deep dropping, as much as that can result in some of the best table fare you’ve ever tasted. The deep waters around the oil rigs attract some of the world’s most prestigious sportfish, including, but not limited to, Blue and White Marlin, Sailfish, Yellowfin Tuna, Blackfin Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and Wahoo. Kite fishing and trolling are the most popular methods for targeting these fish, while deep sea jigging for Blackfin Tuna and chunking and chumming for Yellowfin can keep you busy for hours.
Oh, and did we mention that there’s a fourth Billfish to be found round here? Bring plenty of squid and some LEDs, because Swordfish can be enticed to your boat if you have the gear and the patience.
Gulf Shores Deep Sea Fishing Prices
Most charters fishing out of Gulf Shores will start with a four hour nearshore trolling trip. This is a great introductory option for beginners, but unlikely to result in anything more than Kingfish, Spanish Mackerel, and Cobia. These can cost anything from $500 – $800 depending on the size of the boat.
If you want to bottom fish, you should choose anything from a five to an eight hour trip. These will take you fishing the reefs for Snappers, Groupers, and Triggerfish and will cost between $650 and $1000.
Serious deep sea fishing trips are best for experienced anglers. These trips can last anything from 10 hours to several days. 12 hour trips are generally recommended for people who want a good chance at catching Tuna, Wahoo, and other pelagics 50+ miles offshore. Trips lasting 24 hours or more will allow you to get out to the oil rigs offshore, where you can fish for Tuna, Marlin, Swordfish, and Tilefish. 12 hour trips cost between $1800-$2500, while 24 hour trips will be closer to $3000. Some charter operators charge extra for fuel on these trips, so make sure to check this with your captain before heading out.
When To Go
The main deep sea fishing season in Gulf Shores runs between late spring and early autumn. Sailfish, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, Swordfish, and some Marlin can be caught during this period, with Marlin peaking in August and September.
Most Gulf Shores charter boats focus on Red Snapper fishing during this popular fish’s open season, which runs from June to mid July in Federal waters.
Most Gulf Shores deep sea fishing charters leave from Orange Beach, which is 7 miles east along the coastline.