Red snapper is the most popular fish for recreational anglers swimming within the Gulf of Mexico. Its sweet meat is prized in restaurants and seafood markets and it is one of the top predators of the food chain. So popular in fact that in 2011 nearly 3 million anglers took 22 million fishing trips in the hunt for red snapper which is a boom for the local economy. Commercial fisherman get in on the action as well with 3.2 million pounds of red snapper harvested that sold for 11.5 million dollars in 2011! This makes red snapper one of the most valuable fish in the Gulf. That’s a lot of fish! But it wasn’t always like this. Back in the late 1980s, red snapper population reached an all time low. It was then when management stepped up in order to provide efforts for the recovery of this highly sought after fish. And good news! Since 2009, catch limits of red snapper have steadily increased.
Snapper season is a beautiful thing. We all patiently await the announcement when we can go harvest the sweet meat of red snapper. The dates change from year to year and are different in state waters than they are in federal waters and are also different between recreational anglers and for-hire charter boats. But one thing remains the same—it never seems to be long enough. And this year, in 2017, it is now the shortest season in history. From June 1st through the 3rd, private boat recreational anglers can harvest red snapper from federal waters (9 miles from shore). This is a drastic drop from the 9 days we had in 2016. This has some anglers outraged. However, for federally permitted for-hire vessels, such as Naples Fishing Boat, the season runs from June 1st to July 19th—a 49 day federal water red snapper season.
State water red snapper regulations extend a bit longer (78 days), but may be confusing if you’re not paying attention. State regulations go like this:
- Open Saturdays and Sundays in May beginning the first Saturday in May
- Open daily beginning the Saturday before Memorial Day through Sunday following Independence Day
- Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in September and October, including Labor Day
For both state and federal waters, the minimum length is 16” total length (mouth closed with tail pinched) and a bag limit of 2/person. Also be sure to always use circle hooks when fishing reef fish fisheries and have a dehooking tool handy.
Let Naples Fishing Boat take the guess work out of regulations. All you have to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the ride—and get ready to catch some fish!