Fishing has been an important part of Orange Beach’s identity for as long as its shores have been inhabited. Native Americans as well as early Spanish, French and English settlements took advantage of the Gulf of Mexico’s spoils.
As the population of early settlements grew, commercial fishing began to develop to provide a necessary food source for locals, especially farmers who worked on the mainland.
In the early days, fish were taken to market in live wells and sold "live" as ice on the fishing ships was not common.
Redfish, red snapper, cobia, marlin and many other types of fish have been caught off the coast of Orange Beach for decades.
In the early 1900s the concept of "fishing for hire" quickly became popular in Orange Beach. In the early days fisherman would wire requests for charter trips to their favorite captains by way of the Western Union in Foley. From there, messages were hand delivered to the appropriate captains.
In the 1930s The Perdido Pass Fishing Association was formed to develop standards for the many charter fishing boats that had begun to operate in the Orange Beach area. By 1939 members of the organization were advertising their fishing services in local papers, and from there the industry continued to grow.
Today over 125 charter boats operate out of Orange Beach and most are members of the Orange Beach Fishing Association, a descendent of the PPFA.
Historical photos like these and many artifacts are on display at the Orange Beach Indian and Sea Museum, open Tuesday-Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The museum at 25850 John M Snook Drive, next to City Hall. Find more information on the city website at www.orangebeachal.gov/facilities/indian-sea-museum/about.
The book “The Best Place to Be - The Story of Orange Beach,” by Margaret Childress Long and Michael D. Shipler, which is available for sale at the Orange Beach Indian and Sea Museum, details the origins of Orange Beach’s thriving beach economy.