2023 Red Snapper Season: 3 Things You Need to Know

On behalf of Eisenmenger, Robinson & Peters, P.A. posted in Criminal Law on Friday, July 14, 2023.

Each year, sport fishing enthusiasts and commercial fishermen eagerly await the announcement of the red snapper season opening dates for the South Atlantic federal waters. This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries has just released the much-anticipated details for the 2023 red snapper season, including the recreational season length, harvest days, bag limit, and updated gear rules. Here’s everything you need to know.

Key Dates for 2023

NOAA Fisheries has confirmed that the recreational sector will open for harvest on two specific days:

  • July 14 and 15, 2023, which fall on a Friday and Saturday. The season will commence at 12:01 a.m., local time, on July 14, 2023, and will close at 12:01 a.m., local time, on July 16, 2023.

That gives recreational fishermen two full days to head out into the South Atlantic’s federal waters and get their hands on the prized red snapper. NOAA’s official announcement.

Bag Limit

For the 2023 season, the recreational bag limit has been set at one red snapper per person per day. This limit applies to both private and charterboat/headboat vessels. Notably, the captain and crew on for-hire vessels can also retain the recreational bag limit.

One exciting change this year is that there are no minimum or maximum size limits for the recreational or commercial sectors. Fishermen are free to keep any red snapper they catch during the designated season, irrespective of its size.

Reef Fish Gear Rules

There are specified gear rules for reef fishing, differentiating between state and federal waters.

When fishing in state waters:

  • If fishing with natural baits, non-stainless steel, non-offset circle hooks must be used north of 28° N. latitude, while non-stainless steel hooks should be used south of 28° N. latitude.
  • A dehooking device must be present on the vessel.
  • Starting from April 1, 2023, a new rule mandates the possession and readiness of a descending device or venting tool.

Meanwhile, for those fishing in federal waters:

  • Similar to state waters, when fishing with natural baits, non-stainless steel, non-offset circle hooks are required north of 28° N. latitude, and non-stainless steel hooks are required south of 28° N. latitude.
  • A dehooking device should also be on board.
  • A descending device should be present on the vessel and readily available.

This map, should help give you an idea:

These gear rules are in place to help ensure that released fish survive, contributing to the overall health of the red snapper population. For more information on Reef Fish Gear Rules go to: https://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/gear-rules/

Get Ready for the Season

With these dates, limits, and gear rules in mind, anglers can start planning for a successful red snapper season in 2023. So, prepare your fishing gear, mark your calendar, and get ready for some exciting and responsible fishing action. We wish all fishermen a bountiful and safe red snapper season in 2023!

For more information, you can also go to FWC’s website, which has further information about both the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Regulations.