Fish must be at least 16 inches in total length to be kept, and there’s a bag limit of 2 fish per person per day.
While federal for-hire vessels have been out catching red snapper since June 1, starting this week, recreational anglers can finally get in on the fun.
States along the Gulf of Mexico have been testing a pilot program allowing them to each set their own recreational red snapper seasons for both state and federal waters. But before you get ready to launch, there’s a few things you should know about the recreational red snapper season in Florida.
1. How long the season lasts
The recreational red snapper season for Florida opens on June 11 and runs until July 12 for a month’s worth of fishing. The opening covers both state waters, which are between shore and 9 nautical miles out, and federal waters, which are beyond 9 nautical miles out.
There’s also the possibility of a fall opening if there if there is still room in the state’s quota left from the summer season.
2. What you need to fish
While for-hire vessels need special permits and licenses, recreational anglers need far less paperwork to get started. However, to participate in the red snapper season, recreational anglers do need sign up as a Gulf Reef Fish Angler before they can start targeting snapper and a few other species. The sign-up is free of charge and can be done online at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com or wherever you purchase your fishing license.
3. What you can keep
As with just about any other fish, there are certain size and bag restrictions on red snapper, particularly as the species recovers from overfishing. Fish must be at least 16 inches in total length to be kept, and there’s a bag limit of 2 fish per person per day.
4. Who else can fish
While it’s called the recreational season, the season is also open to for-hire charter boats who don’t have federal permits. To target red snapper and other reef fish, these boats must stay in state waters and they must have State Gulf Reef Fish Charter on their license, which can be added at no cost at the local tax collector’s office.
5. How you can help
As the state moves forward with managing recreational fisheries, local anglers can help in conversation efforts by voluntarily providing information about their catches. Recreational anglers signed up as part of the Gulf Reef Fish Angler program may receive a survey about their trip, and the data collected from that survey will help FWC manage the fishery in the future.
Anglers can also share their catch information with FWC through their smartphones with the iAngler Gulf Red Snapper app for private anglers. Charter boat have their own version of the app, called iAngler Gulf Red Snapper Charter.
This story originally published to theledger.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the GateHouse Media network.