The season for federally permitted offshore (9-30 miles from shore) for-hire charter vessels is 49 days long from Thursday June 1st through July 19. You can confirm all the rules and explanation details here: https://gulfcouncil.org/press/2017/2017-recreational-red-snapper-season/
To sum it up, there are two different demographic fishing areas where the ever so succulent highly desired Red Snapper tasty morsel can be legally caught and landed…
1) The Federal Gulf Council manages and determines how many days, size and creel limits from 9 miles up to 30 miles from shore.
2) While the state of Alabama and Florida manage their own waters up to 9 miles from shore. Alabama state waters Red Snapper rules mirror the Federal regulations for open season dates, size and creel limits for 49 days. Florida on the other hand, has extended there Red Snapper open season dates. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved a 78 days recreational season in Gulf state waters. The approved season will be:
Open Saturdays and Sundays in May starting the first Saturday in May.
Every day starting the Saturday before Memorial Day through Sunday following Independence Day.
Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in September and October, plus Labor Day.
All of the agencies have agreed the minimum Red Snapper size is 16″ (inches) total length can be kept (landed).
Each angler may keep no more than two (2) Red Snappers per day.
Each boat may not land no more than 10 Red Snappers for the whole boat (creel aka bag limit).
Charter captain, first mate, deckhand and/or crew cannot be counted as a angler of the creel/bag limits allowed.
Why such a short season with small limits?
Red Snapper has reportedly diminished in numbers over the years. While the actual numbers are very controversial between the management councils, Commercial and the Recreational captains who fish these waters daily, argue the factual stock numbers are much more abundant than publicly proclaimed in reports.
There are many conspiracy theories depending on who you speak with that proclaim the numbers are skewed to protect certain industries who participate in the count with inconsistent numbers. While unarguably, there was a noticeable diminished stock since the 1970’s, currently Red Snapper is not in danger of extinction by no stretch of the imagination. It sounds great on paper to protect the stock from being over fished is a very noble gesture and needed to be “monitored”, however, most in the working industry feel Big Brother’s regulations has created too much hysteria creating a unrealistic fear through their overreach. The good news is Red Snapper Season is OPEN for business and the stock is growing exponentially every year!
What is the difference in areas?
Red snapper can grow to about 40 inches, weigh up to 50 pounds and live more than 50 years. Red snapper begin to reproduce when they are about two years old, spawning from May to October along rocky ledges or coral reefs. Fertilized eggs float on the surface and hatch within a day. Only a month later, the young fish settle out of the water column in shallow waters, and as they get older, they move to structured habitat where they will mature and eventually move to the deeper waters of the Gulf.
Bigger, older red snappers produce many more eggs than young ones. One 24-inch female red snapper (about 8 years old) produces as many fish as 212 17-inch females (about 5 years old) Most red snapper caught in the Gulf today are only between four and six years old. With all of that being said, We have the largest artificial reef system in the Western Hemisphere providing a abundant leagues of spawning grounds. Nearshore state managed waters will have more juvenile fish, while Offshore federally managed areas will have more mature Red Snappers. Now don’t confuse that previous statement meaning there are not adult Red Snapper in the Nearshore state waters, after all, there is no Trump wall built in the gulf. What we are saying your odds are increased more in a offshore trip.
Who should you fish with?
We have 4 boats that are Federally permitted to fish Offshore, 4 boats Alabama permitted for nearshore and 2 boats Florida permitted for nearshore fishing. We highly recommend getting aboard a 6 passenger private charter vessel to ensure you get the most Red Snapper for your dollar. Party boats are great economical choice to get on the water fishing, however, that ole saying, “you get what you pay for” rings true. We highly recommend getting on board our 45′ Hatteras named “The Salty Dog” or our new 42″ PowerCat for Offshore fishing. Each boat has a 6 person capacity. Give us a call 251-265-1122 and we will put you on the right boat to fit your needs.