Red snapper anglers will soon be putting some snapper on the dinner table. The much debated abundance will be tested when the recreational harvest of red snapper opens on Oct. 1 in state and federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Anglers need to know that in state waters, which are from shore to 9 nautical miles in the Gulf, the season will remain open through Oct. 21, closing on Oct. 22. In federal waters, which are from 9 nautical miles out to 200 nautical miles, the season will remain open through Oct. 14, closing on Oct. 15.
Regulators note that these are supplemental red snapper seasons and apply for 2013 only. The size and bag limit is the same in both state and federal waters. The minimum size limit is 16 inches, and the daily bag limit is two per harvester, per day. The practice of keeping a limit for the captain and crew on chartered vessels has been eliminated. Only licensed recreational anglers can harvest fish.
Regulations on equipment require the use of circle hooks and dehooking devices when fishing for any reef species, including red snapper. These rules apply in both state and federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. All anglers should be concerned with fish releases. Circle hooks and dehookers increase the likelihood that a release fish will survive.
The requirement to use venting tools in federal waters is no longer a part of the law. It was removed on Sept. 3. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will consider adopting similar changes at a future meeting.
Many anglers use heavy bottom tackle to harvest red snapper, but if you want a challenge try what some experienced anglers do. Lighten up on the tackle and use the chumming method to bring the snapper closer to the boat. Once the fish appear toss out a line baited with cut or live bait and hold on. If you don’t turn the fish on the first run the fight may be over.
Anglers interested in learning more about red snapper can go to MyFWC.com/Fishing and clicking on “Saltwater” and “Recreational Regulations.”
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Angler Alert: Don’t forget to log you catch online at the Angler Action Program.