The Gulf Coast Red Snapper season is officially in full swing. According to reports from local anglers, you’d be hard pressed to find a location where there are fish without wrestling with multiple other boats. As inconveniencing as that may sound, it’s a good thing. Given the fallout of the BP oil spill in 2010, I’m just happy we can still have a snapper season. And from what I’m hearing, there’s absolutely no shortage of fish.
There are some things you’ll need to keep in mind if you decide to try your hand at snapper fishing. One, there is a 2 fish limit for each person. The fish must be 16 total inches in length and you must report your catch online. Once again, seems like a major inconvenience, but reporting your catch allows the powers that be to determine the overall length of the season. This is part of the conservation effort to ensure that we are catching Red Snapper for years to come. Another thing to keep in mind is that the season can be closed at any time, so you’ll want to check before you go out. As of now, the season is open until July 4th, unless the quota is met before then.
The Red Snapper has become one of the most sought after fish over the years, and for good reason. They are pretty easy to catch when you find them, and they are absolutely delicious. When my wife and I went on our honeymoon to Jamaica years ago, I was overjoyed to find that snapper was available for pretty much every meal, aside from breakfast. While on the trip, I ate snapper that was cooked just about any way you can imagine. After trying everything the island had to offer, I came home feeling the same way as when I went down there. Blackened snapper is hard to beat.
If you’ve never been on a snapper fishing trip, I encourage you to go before the season closes. Make a day trip with the entire family. The fish are super fun to catch and kids have a blast. I still remember the first snapper trip that I ever went on. Not because we caught a bunch of fish, but for the other events that transpired. I’ll never forget my grandfather’s hat blowing off while we were heading out to fish. The captain of the boat swung us around, and we were trying to retrieve it. It took a little longer than planned, and he had to circle the hat a few times. I know I’ve mentioned my dad’s issues with motion sickness once before in my column. Going around in circles trying to get that hat, all the while breathing in exhaust fumes from the engine didn’t mix well for Dad. He spent the remainder of the trip hanging over the edge of the boat giving up everything he’d eaten for the last few days.
I didn’t take another snapper trip for years after that one. And the next snapper trip I took wasn’t even really a snapper trip. We went tuna fishing out of Venice, Louisiana and ended up stopping at the rigs on the way back in. We headed out early that morning, caught bait, and began trying to hook up to a big yellowfin. After getting skunked for most of the day, we were fortunate enough to stumble onto a nice grass line that produced a few Mahi Mahi for us. After the Mahi bite cooled off, we decided to try our luck with deep dropping for snapper. I think that there were six of us in the boat, and we had our limit of Red Snapper in less than 30 minutes. They were big snapper, too. We were fishing in a couple hundred feet of water and reeling in those big snapper was taxing. We’d drop our bait and before it could ever hit the bottom we were fighting a fish. Every now and then we’d lose one to a shark, or barracuda, but for the most part it was constant action. We returned to Venice with a nice mixed bag of fish to bring home. It was, without a doubt, the most fun I’ve ever had salt-water fishing.
Since we are talking snapper and salt-water fishing, I feel it necessary to remind you to take extra precautions while out on the water. Take your time and make careful decisions. It’s really easy to get caught up in the excitement and hook your buddy, or turn your boat into a sunken treasure for divers. There aren’t any hospitals out there, and the ride back to shore is a lot longer when you’re bleeding. That being said, get out on the water and enjoy what the gulf has to offer while you can! Who knows, with the way things are going they’ll want to ban assault hooks before long.