Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Below is a list of the most frequently asked questions we receive from our guests. We hope they explain how fishing in Orange Beach works with Distraction Charters. We would love to serve you and your family and encourage you.
What Is A Fuel Surcharge?
A fuel surcharge is a cash price that is designed to offset sudden and unforeseen rises in fuel prices. We add the extra cost on to our customers base price. We set our base rates each year in January. They are based on the fuel costs for the previous year. Since fuel went from $2.42 a gallon when we set our yearly price, fuel has risen to $6.10 a gallon. Instead of raising the base price of the trip, we just add a fuel surcharge to to make up for the extra cost of fuel that we will use on your trip. If we don’t pass along the fuel prices, we can’t offer you the best fishing trips around, maintain our boat and equipment. You do want a well maintained and safe boat, right?
Why Families Choose the Distraction and Captain Troy?
It’s because of the great customer service that families receive and the extra effort that Captain Troy and his mate gives you on every trip. We ensure you are treated like celebrities, while on board our vessel. Captain Troy’s wife Melissa, a retired kindergarten and special education teacher, helped guide the Distraction back in 2002, toward education and conservation. Her insights and influence are the backbone of what family fishing is today.
The name Distraction and Captain Troy are synonymous with family fishing, because we are the ones who set the standard and keep raising the bar.
What Kind of Environment Will You Be Around?
Being the first in family fishing, we understand how you want the best experience for your family and we work hard to ensure you get exactly what you expect from a professionally run operation. Your captain is a former bank executive, commercial pilot and transportation manager who is used to being around very professional people.
Troy has a lot of fun and cuts up a good bit, but that is designed to calm people down and entertain you. You don’t have to worry about any bad language, inappropriate behavior or bad habits coming out during your trip. I promise.
What Factors Affect The Success Of Your Trip?
Your success depends on things like your participation, your ability to learn how to catch fish, the bite, fishing pressure, the moon phase, the tide, the current, water clarity, weather, sea conditions, water salinity and most importantly, the length of trip you choose. Longer trips give you an opportunity to catch more fish and possibly larger fish. A half day trip is the best trip we offer for the investment. However, we do offer longer trips for those who want to spend an entire day on the water. Remember, longer trips does not mean the cooler will be full. That is determined by seasons, your participation and how the fish bite.
We provide the best tools and take you to the best fishing spots and give you a greater than average chance to catch some nice fish. Our boat is well maintained and our fishing tackle is either new or well taken care of. We don’t have old worn out equipment on our boat. This is important, because we want you to have a chance to get one of those big ones to the boat without having a malfunction or something happen that we could have prevented.
Will We Catch Fish?
This is a hard question to answer because those of you who have ever been fishing before understand that fish don’t always bite. Sometimes we have to hunt around a bit and try to find some that are biting better than others. If you go bottom fishing and learn how to use the tackle and then participate, you should catch a fish.
Let me expand a little. We take families fishing. This means there is usually a few family members who are learning how to fish or not even participating. Your success and your ability to catch species of fish that you can keep will largely depend on everyone participating, the fish biting and a little bit of luck.
What Fish Will We Catch When Red Snapper, Triggerfish, Amberjack and Grouper Seasons are Closed?
When red snapper, triggerfish and grouper season closes, and you have a fishing trip planned, we are still going to catch them, photograph them and release them. Gag grouper are very hard to target and catch with any reliability off the Alabama coast, but they can be caught on full day trips or beyond 40 miles.
If you are wanting to keep some fish after the season closes, there is a chance you can keep some mackerel, little tunny or even get lucky enough to catch a pelagic fish like a mahi – (if we run across some weed lines or floating debris). We may even catch a vermilion snapper or a red porgy to keep if you like. However, if keeping smaller fish like vermilion and red porgy is a must, please let us know in advance. These fish are not near as much fun to catch as red snapper and triggerfish. Besides, catching vermilion requires an extra 5 to 10 mile run offshore to natural bottom, which means you get less fishing time.
What Fish Can We Keep? Will We Catch A Limit?
Well, that all depends on the fish you catching being in season and the people in your group being able to learn how to catch them. Most of the fish we catch off Alabama (like red snapper, triggerfish, amberjack) are highly regulated by federal and state fisheries laws. This means they have strict quotas, small bag limits and often short seasons. Since we don’t focus on meat hunting or filling the cooler/freezer, it’s hard to say what or how many you can keep. That is why we go fishing, we catch whatever is biting. If it is of legal size and in season, you many keep them. We are not hard core anglers who focus on only catching a limit or trying to fill the cooler. If you want to catch a lot of fish to take home, you need to book your trip when those species are in season.
Why Does Your Fishing Trips Cost What It Does?
Charter fishing is a service industry and we know what kind of service we provide for our customers. Everyone knows good service costs money and poor service costs reputations. We tend to prefer to offer good service. The people who choose Distraction fishing charters are choosing to receive the highest level of customer service in the industry. We operate differently than our competitors and the level of service we provide is unsurpassed. We also know what we do for you and your family is worth.
We are a seasonal business. Orange Beach doesn’t have a year round people wanting to go fishing. Our tourist season begins in March with Spring Break. Our summer season being May 25 (Memorial Day) and continues through the third week of August, or when the kids go back to school.
With such a short window to work, we have to charge enough money to make a living and then pay bills for the 7 months that we are not running a lot. I assure you that this industry is tough and competition for your business is fierce. One thing for sure, we are competitive on our pricing and want to keep your cost as low as we can. But, we also have to make a living.
We charge what we do for our trips because we know what gross revenue it takes to stay in business. Fuel is the single largest expense for our company. We burn up to 20 gallons per hour, depending on the distance offshore and speed we have to run. Our prices reflect 12 months of slip rent at $1,500 a month, plus insurance $8,000 annually, long term maintenance $10 per hour, short term maintenance $6 per hour, keeping well maintained fishing tackle, and the list continues. In 2017, we spent $91,000 on a complete renovation, two new diesel engines and a generator. Then on top of that, we have short term maintenance scheduled every couple of weeks. Every two weeks during the summer, an oil change costs about $400. We don’t mess around when it comes to taking care of our boat.
We maintain our boat and fishing gear at the highest of standards and we still have a few mechanical failures from time to time. But one thing for sure, a well maintained charter boat doesn’t break down near as much as one who doesn’t know what their service is worth.
Why Does Your Deckhand Charge A Minimum Fee for his services?
As mentioned in the above paragraph, a deckhand only has about 5 months to make their living for the entire year. It seems like he makes a lot of money, but that money he makes in five months has to be rationed out and last him 12 months. He offers a premium service and is not like other deckhands who work on other boats. Those winters are long and dark when you have no income coming in until the second week of March each year. Since your deckhand works 5 months a year serving customers, it is hard for them to get a job the other months because most people want employees to work year round. We are unique in what we do for people.
Remember – Your deckhand can’t control how the fish bite or if there is a mechanical issue that is out of his scope. He is like a waiter who serves large groups of people. When it comes to deep sea fishing, imagine having a waiter caters to you for half a day, making sure you have everything you need, keeping the place clean (but you must do your part and pick up after yourself if you make a mess inside the cabin) and also teaches you and your family how to use the tackle and learn how to catch a fish. Your deckhand is more than a waiter, he is a guide who cares if you have an excellent fishing experience. This is why on our boat, he charges for example, a minimum fee of $275 to $300 for half day trips plus tip. This amount is to be paid in cash only. He also offers free or complimentary fish cleaning for any fish you harvest. If his service was good, you are welcome to tip him on top of his minimum fee. That would be appreciated.
Questions and Answers About Fishing Reservations and Payments
Do you charge up to a 50% up front non- refundable deposit like other charters, brokers and marinas do? No. We handle reservations like a hotel does. All we need is a current credit card number on file to hold your trip. We don’t run your card or put a hold on any amount.
We were the first charter in the nation to not require a deposit. This is because we give you our best on every trip. If you are not fully satisfied with us, we will make it right.
How many people can we bring on our private charter?
You may have a maximum of 6 people, regardless of their age or participation. If you have 7 or more people, contact us and tell us, so we can refer you to a friend of ours before the 14 day cancellation deadline.
What forms of payments do you accept?
We accept cash and all major credit cards. (SORRY, NO CHECKS OR FOREIGN CURRENCY ACCEPTED) We do charge $25, $50 and $100 for any credit card transaction fee (depending on the cost of the trip).
When do we pay for our charter?
Bring your form of payment with you to the boat on the day of your trip. Please do not leave your credit card or cash in the car or at the condo. Payment is due at the boat.
Do we need to tip the captain? Tipping the captain is your prerogative. If he does a good job, it is always appreciated. While checking out and paying with a credit card, we do have a screen that gives you the option to add a tip in the form of a percentage on the same page where your signature goes.
Why We Keep Our Reservation Calendar Private?
There are too many hackers out there and nosy competitors who watch every move we make. We don’t want anyone looking at our calendar, especially our competitors. A calendar that is published is like you opening up your check book for anyone to see.
When you trust us with your personal information, including your credit card number to hold your trip, we will ferociously protect you.
Why Do We Require Online Booking and Reservation Requests?
We are a professionally run charter fishing operation. We ask that you fill out a SECURE request online, so you and we will have a record of all communication between us during the fishing trip process. Since most people have smart phones and or email, we find it easier and more effective to communicate electronically.
(Old School Ways) Before technology developed, we used to keep a hand written calendar in our possession at all times. We used to write down your name, phone number and credit card information. There were some captains that lost their calendar with everyone’s personal information. Because we want you to trust us, we built our website and it is 100% secure (The best we can) and we protect your identity and credit card information ferociously.
Communication – Why We Send Confirmation Emails for Reservations?
We don’t want to miss anything or mess your reservation up by forgetting to write something down. Email tends to be the easiest way for us to manage our reservations and communication. During our busy season, we are working 15 hours a day and there is the potential for us or you to forget something.
A confirmation email is like your receipt or voucher, saying the date and time you chose is yours.
Cancellation and Weather Policies
What is our cancellation policy?
If you cancel a trip within 7 days of your trip, we will charge you the full price of the trip. (This rarely happens)
We are not jerks and we hate to charge any cancellation fee. However, If you fail to show, you will be charged the full amount plus tip, even if you test positive for covid 19. You must call me or email me with a cancellation request. If you email me and do not get a confirmation or a response, you need to check your spam box, because I do respond to every cancellation.
What is your bad weather policy?
We usually know if there is going to be bad weather or high winds a day in advance but sometimes the weather man misses the forecast. If the weather is questionable, we will be talking to you beforehand.
We don’t fish in unsafe conditions but we do fish when it is raining and while thunderstorms are around us. We watch the radar on our boat and look at the direction they are moving and most of the time, navigate around them. We do fish in choppy seas, but remember that we want you to have a good time and don’t want you to have a negative experience. There are times when we depart in seas that are choppy (but safe) and after a few hours, they grow into larger seas. That is something that is unforeseen. If that happens, we will ask you if you want to continue or head home? If you say yes, we will head back and we will make the price of the trip fair.
If it is raining the day of our trip, do we still have to show up? YES. If it is raining or thunderstorms the day of your trip and you have not heard from us in advance, you are expected to show up and be ready to go. You need to have appropriate clothing and rain gear protection because we do fish in light rain. Most of the time during the summer, storms pass quickly and we will still be able to make our trip.
What happens if weather gets bad after departure? If we get underway and after a while, the sea conditions get worse and the captain says we are headed back in, you will only be charged for the hours you are on the boat based on $250 per hour plus tip.
What is your policy on trip cancellation due to seasickness? If we are out fishing and someone in your crew gets seasick or wants to go back in or cut the trip short, you are still obligated to pay the agreed amount.
Why is it important to book your trip directly with the captain who is taking you fishing?
We own and run our own boat. We don’t have For-Hire Captains running our boat for a reason.
Booking with the captain directly saves you time, money and allows you to get to speak to him directly to see if you can relate to him and see if he is a good fit for your family. If you book through a marina charter office, you are most likely going to be shuffled to the next boat up on rotation or to the party boat, instead of the right boat for you.
If we book with you, will you be the captain who is taking us fishing?
Yes, I own and operate my own boat. When you book with me, I will personally be the one taking you fishing. When you get the owner of the business actually on your trip, you are ensured that you will get the best experience.
Do you fish in rough or unsafe seas?
No. If the waves are 4 feet or taller and 3 or 4 seconds apart, we normally do not go unless they are just a big swell and spread far apart. A 6 ft swell that is 7 seconds apart is fine, as long as there is not much wind. If we weather conditions look like they will improve later and I have availability, I will ask you if you can re-schedule. That is why I ask you for an alternate date on our reservations form.
What is the youngest a child can be to go fishing?
This all depends on your child. If your kids are outdoorsy type kids, I would say 4 years of age is the youngest, but you know your child. Remember, any child 7 years old or younger must wear a life jacket while on board in state waters. We do have them and they are pretty comfortable to wear. You are always welcome to bring your own as long as they are US Coast Guard Approved.
Questions and Answers About Our Boat
Does your charter boat have an air conditioned indoor sitting area?
Yes, our boat has a large indoor sitting area with cold air conditioning.
Does the boat have a restroom? Yes, the boat has a private, odor free restroom. The toilet is much like a camper. If you have not eaten it or drank it, please don’t try to flush it. We can flush limited amounts of toilet paper at a time. Please place baby wipes, feminine products, plastics, etc. in trash can to avoid any stopped up lines. You will have to listen to our “how to use our toilet speech” to ensure you understand how it operates. Don’t worry, it’s funny.
Can we sit on the back deck while we are trolling fishing or riding to and from the fishing grounds? Yes. We have a large back deck with plenty of seating so you won’t miss a thing. You always have the option to sit up under the overhang, out of the sunlight or out on the coolers where all the action is taking place. There will be a short period of time when the mate will ask you to raise your feet or go inside so he can get the fishing area washed down so you won’t be tracking unwanted fish scales and parts inside on the carpet.
Can we come upstairs and drive the boat? Sure you can, as long as sea conditions are favorable. I love it when kids come up to drive and parents bring their camera to get a few pics. If seas are not exactly calm, they might need to stay down for safety’s sake. I will let you know if it is safe. The ladder upstairs can be slippery and dangerous. We ask you help the little ones come up and down and depending on age, might have to limit the number of times they come upstairs. We don’t want them or anyone else to get hurt.
Can we smoke or drink Beer? Sure you can. Please smoke outside and place your butts in a bottle with a lid on them. We don’t throw them overboard. If you want to bring alcoholic beverages, please make sure they are not in glass bottles. They might break and cut someone. Please leave hard liquor at home. Drinking too much is a liability and we have cancelled trips due to people getting intoxicated. Just beer and wine coolers please.
Does your boat have enough fuel on board to make the entire trip? Yes, do not ever let our boat get below a half a tank before we fill her back up. This way, we never run out while at sea. Our policy is to have our boat fueled and ready to go prior to your arrival.
Additional Information About Fishing Trips
When is the best time to go deep sea fishing in Orange Beach?
The best time to go fishing is during our busy season but that is only because of the warm weather. Our season kicks off during the first week in March each year with the Orange Beach and Gulf Shores spring break. We run hard until the middle of April and then business slacks off until about May 15. At that time, we will run almost every day until the end of August or until kids go back to school. We are open year round except Sunday’s and fish throughout the winter months.
What fishing trip offers the best opportunity to catch fish?
As with any fishing trip, the farther away from shore you go, the better the fishing. The half day trip offers the best value and offers a better return for your investment because it includes enough revenue to cover the cost of the fuel to get you far enough offshore to where the fish live. No matter what is in season, this trip allows you to go bottom fishing and at least catch some fish like Red Snapper. If they are not in season, You can still catch and release them. Because of short federal seasons, you may or may not bring fish home to eat unless you get lucky and catch a fish that is in season.
How far do we go out and how deep is the water?
On our most popular trolling/bottom fishing charters that are half day trips, we go anywhere from 7 to 20 miles offshore and the water is anywhere from 70 to 120 feet deep. Our full day trips are from 20 to 35 miles offshore, depending on the weather and fish bite.
How much fishing time and riding time is there on a typical trip?
We are about 20 – 25 minutes ride from the Orange Beach Marina to the gulf, depending on the water current and other boat traffic. If the trolling fish are biting good, we begin fishing either in the pass or just after we get past the jetties and clear of other boat traffic. We pull these baits all the way offshore to where we are going to bottom or reef fish. That ride is usually 1.5 hours on regular 6 hour trips or its about 2 hours from the time we leave the dock until we stop the boat and begin fishing. After we are in the area we are going to fish, there is usually about 1.5 to 2 hours of actual fishing time. Where we take you there are plenty of fish and a lot of action. When we head in, it is usually about 2 hours back to the dock and we are pulling lines and catching fish all the way back home.
What if I break or lose a fishing rod. Our Lost or Broken Tackle Policy
If you are fishing with us and a reel malfunctions or for some reason it stops working, we will offer you another one to use.
We use light tackle rods and reels – They are pretty tough. However, if you drop one overboard and it is lost, you are expected to pay to replace it. We have only lost two rods in 19 years. The light tackle rods cost $450 each, or big rods are $1200 each.
If you “high stick” (placing a light tackle rod below your gut and keep your rod tip high when fighting a fish) and fail to “follow the fish” with your pole and the tip of our rod breaks, you will be expected to replace the rod. The pole alone cost $250. This is a rare event for sure.
If you leave a pole in the rod holder unattended and a fish strikes and breaks a pole, you will be expected to pay for it. (When you are not fishing, your line must be reeled up and bait out of the water, stowed in a way where it is not swinging in the air, unless otherwise instructed.