Coastal Florida offers some of the world's best saltwater fishing. Anglers with both novice and advanced skill levels travel to the Emerald Coast hoping to snag a prized catch in the Gulf of Mexico. From sharks to Sea Bass, no fish is out of range while casting a rod and reel in the sunshine state. That's why we created the Florida Red Snapper Season Guidelines for fisherman like you!
With any sport, there is always the "game-ender." For baseball it's a grand slam, hockey it's a hat-trick, and for Destin saltwater fishing it's catching the coveted Red Snapper. The Red Snapper is so fun to catch, and the meat is so delicious, it has become the focus of many Destin fishing charter trips.
While a large Red Snapper could give a young angler (like the one in this fishing traveler story) a run for his or her money, they don't grow quite as large as other game fish or popular table fare, making Snapper hunting the basis of many Florida Deep Sea Fishing Charters. The typical Red Snapper grows to a maximum of around 25 pounds, with the largest Red Snapper caught in Florida weighing 46 pounds (caught off the Destin, FL, coast).
Red Snapper are typically found in deep waters, and like to hangout in schools near reefs, shipwrecks, and oil rigs. Your best chance at catching some tasty Snapper is to head out to deep waters, either in your own boat, or by booking one of the many fishing charters that Florida has to offer! Towns like Destin, Florida are especially popular for commercial charter fishing for species like Snapper, Grouper, and Mahi Mahi.
Because of the value of Red Snapper, there have been State and Federal law restrictions placed on the species. In recent years, new laws were put into effect that will offer a much longer and more fruitful Snapper season to for-hire vessels, while tightening up on private vessels. Here is what you need to know about the 2019 Florida Red Snapper Season.
Gulf Red Snapper, Photo by Geeklikepi via Wikimedia Commons
Over the years, Red Snapper have been over-fished due to its inherent value. Florida lawmakers have since instituted certain rules to help in growing the population back to normal numbers. There are different laws for the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, the following are strictly based on laws created for fishing for Red Snapper in the Gulf of Mexico.
There are also different guidelines for Florida Federal and State waters, which will also be covered below. The guidelines are broken up into Red Snapper, size limit, gear rules, season length for private vessels and for-hire charters, and bag limit.
Minimum size limits are put into effect to assure that juvenile Snapper are able to grow and reproduce in the off-season. The minimum size limit on Red Snapper is 16 inches.
State and Federal regulations require all fishermen to adhere to certain gear rules when hunting for snapper and other popular fish species. These species include:
Circle hooks (non-stainless and not offset) must be used when using natural baits.
For a full list of rules, visit Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Recreational Regulations
Florida State waters are from shore to 9 nautical miles into the Gulf of Mexico, and 3 nautical miles into the Atlantic. Anywhere past that is considered Federal waters. Florida Red Snapper Season lengths vary depending on where the fish is caught with a 2 per person daily bag limit (included in the 10 per harvester per day State Snapper aggregate bag limit).
State Season (Gulf of Mexico) - The 2019 State Season is open June 11th through July 12th, October 12th through October 13th, October 19th through October 20th, and October 26th through October 27th.
Federal Season (Gulf of Mexico, Private) - The 2019 Federal Season is open June 11th through July 12th, October 12th through October 13th, October 19th through October 20th, and October 26th through October 27th.
Federal Season (Gulf of Mexico, For-Hire Vessels) - The 2019 Federal Season is open June 1st through August 1st, October 12th through October 13th, October 19th through October 20th, and October 26th through October 27th.
Federal Season (Atlantic Private & For-Hire Vessels) - The 2019 Atlantic Federal Season opens July 12th-14th, and July 19th-20th.
If you haven't experienced Destin fishing before, don't wait! Spring and summer are peak seasons for many of the Gulf's most cherished fish species, and charter boats book up fast. There are fishing charters for all ages available in the Harbor, along with many other family activities in Destin, Florida.