TAMPA BAY, FL — Better hurry up and grab your fishing rods. Recreational red snapper season only lasts 40 days.
The snapper season starts June 11 and will remain open through July 20.
This year and next year are unique compared to previous years in that Florida’s Gulf recreational red snapper season applies to fishing for snapper from both state and federal waters.
Anglers fishing from private recreational boats will need to have their recreational saltwater fishing license (unless exempt) and will need to have a Gulf Reef Fish Angler on their license (includes those that are exempt) to target red snapper or other certain reef fish in Gulf state and federal waters. You can get this printed on a license at no cost at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com or by visiting any location licenses are sold.
For-hire operations that do not have a federal reef fish permit may also participate in this 40-day season but are limited to fishing for red snapper in state waters only. These operations must have State Gulf Reef Fish Charter on their license to target red snapper and other reef fish in Gulf state waters. This can be done at no cost at the Tax Collector’s Office.
Originally, a 24-day snapper season was proposed but Florida Gov. Rick Scott argued in favor of extending the season to 40 days.
“Florida is a premier fishing destination and saltwater fishing in the Gulf of Mexico has a $7.6 billion economic impact in our state every year,” said Scott. “Adding additional opportunities for anglers to enjoy Florida’s world-class fishing not only benefits our visitors but also our Gulf Coast communities. I am pleased to announce this extension and encourage visitors and residents to start planning their summer fishing trips.”
“Florida is an important access point throughout the nation and world for recreational red snapper fishing,” said FWC Chairman Bo Rivard. “With other Gulf states setting longer seasons than what Florida had initially proposed, it was important for us to find a fair resolution that would provide equal access to red snapper in Florida. FWC worked collaboratively with NOAA Fisheries to come up with a season that would provide access to all of those that choose Florida as their fishing destination. We appreciate the leadership from Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Congressman Neal Dunn and we are excited to announce that extension today.”
Red snapper, which gets their name from their overall rosy red coloring, is popular for sport fishing and equally popular eating. They commonly weigh from a pound to 6 or 8 pounds. The usual maximum size is 20 pounds although 30- to 40-pound snapper has been caught in the Gulf.
Anglers like fishing for snapper because they’re a hard-fishing fish that uses strong, head-shaking tactics rather than long runs.
They can be found in shallow mangroves as well as deep drops in strong currents, requiring heavy rods and 50- to 80-pound test lines. As for bait, opinions vary. Dead cigar minnows, pilchards or cut fish and squid do well at times but live small bait fish are preferred.
To learn more about the 40-day recreational red snapper season in Gulf state and federal waters, including season size and bag limits, visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website.
Image via FWC