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Red snapper season opens to a fishing frenzy

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Alabama anglers get the chance to reel in one of the Gulf’s signature coastal fish species, as the season for red snapper opens again this month. Anglers fishing for red snapper on their own can begin May 24, and the season for charter boat fishing begins on July 1.

In the state’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, director of the Marine Resources Division Scott Bannon says the best fishing normally happens within twenty-five miles of the shore, and a for-hire charter boat can take you out up to nine miles.

“Alabama has invested very heavily in the artificial reefs off the coast of Alabama, which is about just shy of 1,300 square miles of artificial reef zone, which we consider to be the world's premier artificial reef zone and has about 13,000 different reefs that are located in that area,” Bannon said. “And so, also the coastline of either Mobile or Baldwin County, Alabama, you can catch red snapper. And we have some reefs that are relatively close to shore, in the Orange Beach area, where people can kayak out, and we do get people that do that.”

The National Marine Fishery Service allots a quota to each Gulf state for the season, allowing citizens to catch a certain number of fish in total. This year, Alabama’s quota is about 636,000 red snapper fish. Bannon says adult anglers will also need some registration to cast their lines.

“If they're between the ages of 16 and 65, they have to have a saltwater fishing license, as well as the Gulf Reef Fish endorsement. So, if you're 65 and older, or hold a lifetime license, you have to have the angler registry, which is free. It's just a way for us to account for the anglers,” Bannon explained. “But those folks would also still have to have the Gulf Reef Fish endorsement which is $10, or you can buy a lifetime Gulf Reef Fish endorsement, which is $220. And you would need that to fish for any of the Gulf Reef fish species such as amberjack, triggerfish, vermillion, snapper, grouper, as well as red snapper.”

Set by the National Marine Fishery Service, the fishing season will run on Fridays through Mondays through the summer and into the fall, or until the quota is met. The limit for each person will be two red snapper fish per day, and each fish must have a minimum length of 16 inches.

For more details on the red snapper season, limits or a saltwater fishing registration, visit the website for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources here.

Caleb Aguayo is a master’s student intern at Alabama Public Radio. He is studying Community Journalism, a news communications degree with a focus on real people in local areas. In his free time, Caleb enjoys spending time with family, gardening, and hobby carpentry.
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