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Red Snapper Fishing

Updated on June 19, 2012

Learn more about and enjoy some awesome fishing for red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Gulf red snapper population is currently at a very low level (overfished). Managers do not currently have enough data to determine the population size of South Atlantic red snapper. Both red snapper populations are being harvested at too high a rate (overfishing).

NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service has implemented long-term regulations to address overfishing and bycatch in the Gulf of Mexico red snapper and shrimp fisheries. These measures include revising the rebuilding plan, reducing the total allowable catch (TAC) of red snapper to 5 million pounds, limiting recreational harvest with a 2 fish daily bag limit and shorter fishing season, prohibiting for-hire (charter) captain and crew from having a bag limit, modifying commercial minimum size limits and establishing gear requirements to reduce bycatch, and implementing measures to constrain shrimp harvest should red snapper bycatch reduction targets not be met.

Find a seasoned charter captain or saltwater fishing guide and go catch a few of these amazing fish. If you are going out on your personal fishing boat, make sure to check out the current fishing regulations that are in effect in the State from which you will depart. Since the Gulf reef fishes are heavily managed, regulations can change frequently. So, make sure that you only keep the appropriate size and number of fish that are allowed during the brief open seasons. At other times of the year, make sure to practice catch-and-release, and send them back to the Gulf water vented and unharmed.

A cooler full of snapper after a successful fishing trip.
A cooler full of snapper after a successful fishing trip. | Source
A red snapper caught during a tagging trip off of Panama City Beach, FL by the FWC.
A red snapper caught during a tagging trip off of Panama City Beach, FL by the FWC. | Source

This popular fish is generally found across the Gulf of Mexico and the Southern areas of the Atlantic Coast. The red snapper is highly sought after, since it is great table fare. They are hard hitting and hard fighting fish that will challenge your tackle. They are best enjoyed on medium to medium-heavy spinning gear or baitcaster setups. The species was heavily over-fished, but is now making a strong come back, and depending upon who you talk to, some say they are finally making a strong come back.

The red snapper can be found in shallow water and deep water, around all types of artificial structures and natural bottom. The best approach is to get a few GPS numbers for some spots that you would like to fish and plan your day. If you have no GPS numbers for wrecks or reefs known to have snapper, check with some of the local fishing and diving shops in your area. You can usually find locations for some public reefs that will hold several fish species.

Red Snapper - Pensacola Florida

The FWC venting a red snapper after tagging.
The FWC venting a red snapper after tagging. | Source

The above photo shows the proper technique to use when venting a fish. State and Federal regulations in the Gulf of Mexico, require gulf fishermen to carry a venting tool on their boat while reef fishing. The tool is used to release air from the fish's swimbladder, allowing it to safely return to the bottom while decreasing the mortality rate of the fish that are released. It is important to do your part to help protect the reef fishing stocks, so that future generations will be able to enjoy the resource too.

Red Snapper - Pensacola FL #2

Red Snapper Fishing in the Gulf off of Texas

Red Snapper Fishing - NE Florida

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    • workingmomwm profile image

      Mishael Austin Witty 6 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      My husband has fished for red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico quite a bit and even got the largest snapper of opening day for the state of Texas several years ago with a 19lb fish. He says there are a couple of secrets he has learned to consistently bringing in the larger snapper. Maybe I can persuade him to share them in a hub. It's good to see that the limits are changing for the better.