Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions or Insights About Deep Sea Fishing In Orange Beach

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.

Communication – Why We Send Confirmation Emails for Reservations?

When you make a reservation request, It appears as an email to our company, from you.  We respond to all reservations requests and tell you that we either do or do not have the date or time you want available.   We have had some problems in the past with YOUR email provider, blocking your response to our email and from people who use smart phones with poor internet connections or are not on wifi – who end up not getting through to us.   This delays us from getting your trip booked.  Before any trip is confirmed, You will get an email from us saying ” I have you confirmed.”  If you do not get an immediate response from us, please call or text me saying you want to confirm this date/time.

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 to ensure you are treated like celebrities, while on board their vessel.  It’s no accident that the Distraction does what they do.  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.

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.  Also, we don’t require or take up front deposits like most everyone else does.  We also do not like to write down your credit card number in a calendar book that we could lose or have stolen with your number in it.  We built our website and it is 100% secure (The best we can) and we protect your identity and credit card information ferociously.

What Kind of Environment Will My Family Be Around?

Time and time again, our customers tell us after their trip that when they were searching for a fishing charter to take their family on, they were very concerned about the environment their family would be around while on the boat.  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.

After fishing with us, our guests tell us that they were breathing a sigh of relief almost immediately after meeting us and spending a day on the water together.   Sure, we love to laugh, joke around and have fun with you,  but when you are with us, you will not hear any cussing or swearing, see anyone hung over or high on anything, we won’t be drinking alcohol,  smoking anything around you or doing anything that you would not want your family and kids around or witness.  It’s OK if you smoke (you will be asked to smoke outside), drink adult beverages (in moderation), let your hair down (but don’t get it caught in a reel – that would hurt), relax (but don’t fall asleep – cause Troy might draw a mustache or a uni-brow on you) and have fun (no explanation needed).  This is our job, and while we are working for you, we promise not to do anything that may be offensive to you.

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.  The more bait in the water, the more fish.  Some species only begin feeding when there is enough bait put in the water.   If you have 6 people in your group and let’s say only two people are fishing and a couple more are learning, there is a good chance your success could be limited.   Now, catching red snapper, triggerfish and other reef fish are reasonably easy to the novice angler.  However, because of their popularity, they are strictly managed and have short seasons and reduced bag limits.  Therefore, depending on when you are in town, they might have to be released.

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.

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 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 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 They Do?

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 good service ourselves.  The people who choose Distraction fishing charters are choosing to receive the highest level of customer service in the industry.  We are different and the level of service we provide is unsurpassed.   We also know what we do for you and your family is worth.

We live in an area where our customers are mostly tourists.  We don’t have a year round business or people wanting to go fishing all the time.  Our tourist season begins about March with Spring Break for a couple of weeks and then our summer season being May 25 (Memorial Day) and continues through the third week of August (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.

We charge what we do for our trips because we know what gross revenue it takes to stay in business.  Our prices reflect 12 months of slip rent at $1,000 a month, plus insurance $5,000 annually, long term maintenance $10 per hour, short term maintenance $30 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 month, year round.  Every two weeks, an oil change costs about $340.  We could have taken a chance and not spent the money on new engines and run a few more years, but what you think of us if we broke down or lost an engine on the day your trip was scheduled?  You would have felt pretty bad.   Coming from the transportation and aviation industry, we knew it was time to replace our older equipment and reinvest in our business.

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 whole 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.  Those winters are long and dark when you have no income coming in until the second week of March each year.

Because your mate offers such a high level of customer service, he should be paid accordingly.  He 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 6 straight hours, making sure you have everything you need, keeping the place clean 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 a minimum fee of $250 for 4 people for 6 hours.  There is a little extra charge for the 5th and 6th person based on 20% of their individual cost.   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.

What is our Location and Walking Directions to the boat?

We are located at 27075 Marina Road at the Orange Beach Marina 36561.  Turn left into parking lot of marina.  Park in the first parking lot on right – toward the middle of the lot where you can see the tiki hut and Fisher’s Restaurant sign.  Walk west past the tiki hut and down the pathway.  Keep the restaurant on your right.  You will come to the dock store.  Stay left of the store and walk out on the only pier located on the left side of the store.  We are in the 3rd slip on the right.  If we are not in from our trip yet, you are encouraged to sit underneath the rear of the store’s shaded area, out of the heat or sunlight.

Questions and Answers About Fishing Reservations and Payments

Do you charge a 50% up front deposit like other charters and marinas do?  No.  We handle reservations like a hotel does.  All we need is a credit card number on file to hold your trip.  We don’t run your card or put a hold on any amount.

What happens if I enter my reservation request along with credit card info and you have the date available?  We will answer you back quickly and ask you if you want to confirm this date.   If you say yes, we will send you a confirmation email telling you the date, time of departure, time to show up and the length of the trip you have chosen.  If you do not hear from us, you are not confirmed.   So, please check your email after we tell you that your date is available and look for a confirmation email.

What happens if I enter my reservation request along with credit card info and you do not have the date available?  If we can’t accommodate your request, your information along with credit card information will be purged from our system.

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 credit cards.   (SORRY, NO CHECKS ACCEPTED)

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.

How much do we need to pay the deckhand and when do we pay him?  You will need to have at least a $250 in cash for the deckhand for 6 hour trips (20% min) for 4 people or $275 cash for 6 people.   You pay him after the trip and after he has cleaned and bagged your fish.  If you have someone else covering the fee for the deckhand, make sure they do not short him.  They are often unaware of the cost of the deckhands services and are sometimes not prepared.

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.

Cancellation and Weather Policies

What is your cancellation policy?
You must notify us within 14 days before the day of your charter in order to cancel this trip without a penalty. If you fail to show, you will be charged the full amount plus tip. 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.  If you book a trip within the 14 day period and then want to cancel, you are responsible for the entire trip.

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 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 $220 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.


Tips On Chartering The Right Boat In Orange Beach

How to cut through the internet clutter:  There are a lot of charter fishing websites out there where companies claim that they “catch fish”, “we are family friendly,” “have been fishing for a hundred years” and that “I am a good fisherman.”  Well, that is all fine and dandy, but is that really important to you as a parent?  On the surface, those claims answer a lot of questions, because everyone wants to catch fish and be with someone who knows how to fish.  To us, those claims are distractions, because all charter boats know how to catch fish.  What they are all struggling with, is how to catch customers when they know that they can’t give their customers a cooler full of fish like they used too.  All of a sudden, many charter companies are uncomfortable with or don’t know how to sell good service.  To some fishing guides, change has been hard.  That is because change is uncomfortable.  Having been a corporate manager for many years, change was almost every day.  That is why when the ability to harvest a lot of fish changed to where all of a sudden, nobody could harvest a lot of fish, we easily adjusted and added a level of service that so far has been unsurpassed in the charter fishing industry.

One of the things that has changed in charter fishing is, there are a lot of boats all of a sudden claiming to be family friendly.  From a consumers stand point, this is great.  We hope everyone gets a family friendly fishing trip.  The words family friendly have been added to competitors websites in order to try and capture some market share that they lost when the Magnuson Stevens Act (MSA) was reauthorized by Bush 43 in 2007, which took away everyone’s ability to fill the cooler.  Renewing the MSA, was a good thing, because it has been hugely successful in helping rebuild our nations fisheries so your grand kids will all have fish to catch in the future.

As a parent you should know, since nobody can go take you to fill the cooler anymore with quality reef fish like red snapper, triggerfish, grouper or amberjack, you need to get the best service in the industry and that is what we do for our guests.  Since we were the ones who became highly specialized and started family friendly fishing in Orange Beach and focused on teaching novice anglers and children how to catch fish, we have provided a level of service that was once unheard of in the charter fishing industry.  We just hope you give us a chance to serve you soon.

Does it matter if your captain is a good fisherman? To us, a good captain is one who has spots to fish and has the ability to demonstrate, educate and allow the novice or family angler a chance to be able to learn how to catch fish all by themselves.  When someone learns something new, that is when we know we have done our job as a guide.  Remember, just because your captain is a good fisherman, doesn’t necessarily mean he is a good captain or guide.  You need to look for the captain who puts your needs before his personal gain.

Why is it important to book your trip directly with the captain who is taking you fishing?
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 we normally do not go unless they are just a big swell and spread far apart. 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.  Remember, if you clog it, we will blog it! LOL

Does the boat have video games to television so my kids can play or watch them?  No.  We believe kids are only out here for a little while and there are enough sights to see and things to do that they can’t do at home.  Instead, we have books about knot tying and some rope to practice with.  They will also be busy doing things with us on the boat.

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. 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 adult beverages?  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.

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.


Questions and Answers About Fishing Trips

When does your trip time begin and end?  All fishing trips begin when you get on the boat and at the beginning of the safety speech.  The trip is considered over when we back into the dock.  A half day trip shows up at 6:10 am and return to the dock at 12:10 pm.  If you show up late, we will still have you back to the dock at the same time.  We run a tight schedule and its not fair to make other people wait to go because of your failure to arrive on time.  Our full day trips begin at either 6 or 630 am, depending on the time of year and we return to the dock by 2:30 to 4 pm, depending on the bite, sea conditions, etc.

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 are our choices when choosing a fishing trip?   We combine trolling and bottom fishing on the half day trip at the captains discretion.  Sometimes trolling fish are not around, so we will not be trolling.  When trolling fish are present, we will offer you a combination of trolling, in addition to bottom fishing.  This half day trip is our most popular one we offer. This trip is also called deep sea fishing. It is where everyone on the boat fishes at the same time by dropping bait beneath the charter boat to catch fish.  There is anywhere from 1 1/2 hours to a 2 hour ride to and from the reefs offshore, but we will be pulling lures the whole time we are traveling (in summer months or when migratory fish are present), trying to catch you fish.  Our full day trips are ideal for those who want more fishing time and a chance to get farther offshore where fishing pressure is less, the water is deeper and some of the fish are larger.   Full day trips are not meat hunting or cooler filling trips.  They are an educational experience where you can expect fish for some fish like grouper, amberjack or troll for wahoo or mahi mahi.  You may also keep a few for dinner.

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 1.75 hours 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 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.  Important – Because of too many people fishing close to shore, we are finding ourselves having to venture out further from land in order to put you on bigger fish.  This is a reality and we are adjusting to having to go further each trip.  In order to run further and still give you the fishing time you want, we are investing $100,000 at the end of 2015 to put new caterpillar engines in our boat so you get the trip you expect next year.    Being a former corporate guy, I understand the importance of investing back in ones business in order to be able to continue to provide excellent customer service and reliable transportation to and from the fishing grounds.

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 13 years.  The light tackle rods cost $450 each, or big rods are $1200 each, so please bring a towel to wipe your hands so you wont lose your grip.

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.