John's Journal...

Three Generations of Charter-Boat Fishing with Orange Beach, Alabama’s Walker Family

How to Get the Most Offshore Fishing for Your Dollar

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Captain Bobby Walker of Elberta, Alabama, is a third-generation charter-boat captain out of Orange Beach, at Zeke’s Marina. His personal history and his family’s history run deep in the history of bottom fishing off Alabama’s Gulf Coast. Because of Walker’s family and other charter-boat families in Orange Beach, today Alabama’s Gulf Coast boasts some of the finest snapper, grouper, king mackerel and amberjack fishing anywhere. This week, we’ll find out how the Walker family has helped to build the largest artificial-reef program in the world.Click to enlarge

Question: Bobby, how do you decide where you’re going to fish each day you go out? I know you have a book with more than 5,000 artificial-reef locations, and using GPS, you can go to any one of those reefs. So how do you pick where you’re going to fish each day you go out?
Walker: The type of charter (customers) we have pretty much tells us what kind of fishing they want to do. Our options are also limited by the number of hours that they want to stay out fishing. The least number of hours that we spend with any charter is 12 hours, so once the party gets on-board, I usually like to run 20 or 30 miles from port before we start fishing for snapper, grouper, king mackerel and amberjack. We’ll start out at about 20-miles offshore catching snapper, and then we’ll move further and further out until we get to the deeper water, where we fish for amberjacks. After that, we find natural bottom, which will have rocks on it, and hope to catch some grouper and/or scamp. There’re a few big rocks out in that deep water where the king mackerel will often school-up, and on those spots we like to catch several nice kings before we come back to port. That’s usually the way our fishing day will run. We try to fish for snapper first, then amberjacks, then grouper and scamp, and then top-off the trip with Click to enlargesome nice king mackerel.

Question: What other trips do you run?
Walker: We do a 15-hour trip where we leave at 3:00 am. We go further offshore, get down to some of the oil rigs where we fish for bigger amberjacks and bigger snapper. We also go to some natural bottom where we can catch bigger grouper and scamp. If we haven’t got our limit of snapper, we’ll stop on some of the wrecks and reefs on the way in and fill our snapper limit. Click to enlarge

Another trip we do is either 18 or 20 hours. On those trips, we try to leave the dock at 9:00 pm one evening, which puts us at the offshore oil rigs at about 4 am, giving us an hour or two before daylight and an hour or two after daylight to fish for tuna. Next, we move to other oil rigs to catch amberjacks, and then we’ll stop off on some natural bottom and catch grouper. We’ll work our way back to port, catching snapper all the way back to Orange Beach. This 18- to 20-hour trip is one of our most-popular trips, because our fishermen can sleep while the boat’s going to the place where we’ll start tuna fishing. Then the fishermen have all day to fish for a wide variety of large species of fish.

Question: Don’t you also fish a 2-day trip?
Walker: Yes, we do. We head out at about 9:00 pm for the first day, ready to tuna fish 2 hours before daylight and the first 2 hours of daylight. Then we’ll troll for tuna, marlin, dolphin and wahoo. After that, we’ll fish for amberjacks and grouper. In the late afternoon, we’ll return to the rigs and fish for tuna the last 2 hours of daylight and at night. Then we’re there to fish for them the first thing in the morning. As we work our way back to Orange Beach, we’re catching grouper, vermilion snapper, scamp, king mackerel and hopefully a wahoo or two.

To learn more about fishing with Captain Bobby Walker, call 251-981-6159 or
251-747-3575, visit, or email For more information on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, visit, or call 1-800-745-SAND (7263). For one of the best places to stay on the beach with numerous amenities, check out Perdido Beach Resort. Go to, or call 800-634-8001.

Tomorrow: The Future of Charter-Boat Fishing

Check back each day this week for more about "Three Generations of Charter-Boat Fishing with Orange Beach, Alabama’s Walker Family"

Day 1: Red Snapper, the Walker Family and the Largest Artificial-Reef Program in the World
Day 2: Charter Boat Fishing Has to Be in your Blood
Day 3: A Day in the Life of a Charter-Boat Captain
Day 4: How to Get the Most Offshore Fishing for Your Dollar
Day 5: The Future of Charter-Boat Fishing


Entry 514, Day 4