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Alabama charter fleet gears up for start of for-hire red snapper season

Published: May. 31, 2022 at 8:49 PM CDT
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FORT MORGAN, Ala. (WALA) - Wednesday, June 1, 2022 is the day the Alabama charter fishing fleet has been waiting on. Red snapper season gets underway for them. This year, for-hire boats will enjoy 17 additional days. The newly rebuilt Fort Morgan Marina is looking for a big season with nearly 30 charter boats now calling it home.

“I mean, we’ve been waiting for this for you know, ten months. This is what we wait for,” said Captain Scott Luster of Stressed Out Charters who is nearly booked full already for the 2022 red snapper season.

Fort Morgan Marina was damaged significantly by Hurricane Sally in 2020. Materials shortages and costs along with permitting delays have made it a long road back. With the new drydock facility it will be able to hold 75more boats than before and there are now more than double the charter boats.

For-hire boats allocated 17 additional days to fish in 2022
For-hire boats allocated 17 additional days to fish in 2022(Hal Scheurich)

“Two years ago, we had like twelve and we’ve got twenty-eight now. They’re all excited, said marina manager and co-owner Tom Steber. “We’ve got fuel, bait, ice and whatever they need and all of them are here permanent so, it’s not like they’re here just for the summer.”

Fort Morgan Marina now boasts a huge new dry storage yard and building. The wet slips are filling up with charter boats and expectations are high for the 2022 red snapper season. This year’s season begins at 12:01 Wednesday morning, June 1 and runs through August 19. Of the 28 charter boats, 17 run offshore snapper trips and those captains are ready.

“I mean, the offshore guys get two and a half months of you know, go out there and catch your snapper, so this year the federal is allocating us, I think seventeen extra days and I think that’s going to help us,” Luster said.

Most of the boats will be running two six-hour trips daily. The boats there can take up to six anglers with varying levels of comfort. The Whittakers have their sights set on a red snapper trip but were at the marina a day early to check out the boat options first.

“Looking around at the different boats and looking for comfort as well you know, being a lady and all…feel safe on the boat and just want to get my line in the water,” said Flo Whittaker.

This year, charter boat anglers will have 79 days to wet that line. In case you’re wondering, Captain Luster said the average cost for a six-hour trip on one of the six-pack boats is around $1.500.

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