Everything You Need to Know About Red Snapper Season 2021

Updated on May 9, 2022

FINAL UPDATE: SEASON CLOSED!

The 2021 season has officially wrapped! Thanks to everyone who made it spectacular. To see more information on the 2022 season click here. To make sure you reserve a spot for 2022 click here.

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OCTOBER 1, 2021 UPDATE: RED SNAPPER SEASON REOPENING IN THE GULF

The NOAA has scheduled the reopened season for Friday, October 15 through Saturday, November 6. The season is reopening after the recreational Red Snapper quota was not met.

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SEPTEMBER 22, 2021 UPDATE: LOUISIANA RED SNAPPER SEASON REOPENING SEVEN DAYS A WEEK AND DOUBLE THE BAG LIMIT

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is reopening the recreational red snapper season Friday, September 24th due to harvest numbers not meeting the yearly quota. The season is to remain open until the quota is met. Additionally, the daily bag limit has been increased to 4 fish per person per day, and fishing is now open 7 days a week.

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APRIL 30, 2021 UPDATE: EVERY GULF OF MEXICO STATE ANNOUNCES 2021 RED SNAPPER RECREATIONAL SEASON DATES

Texas Red Snapper Season 2021:

Red Snapper fishing is open at the beginning of each year in Texas state waters out to 9 nautical miles of shore and runs until the annual quota is met.

Louisiana Red Snapper Season 2021:

"The 2021 recreational red snapper opens the Friday before Memorial Day on weekends only (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), including the Mondays of Memorial Day and Labor Day and the 4th of July regardless of the day of the week it falls upon. Please note, the season is subject to change by Commission action. There is a a daily bag limit of two fish per person and a 16-inch total length minimum size limit."

Red Snapper Season for Louisiana State For-Hire Charter Vessels:

"Those who do not have a Federal Gulf of Mexico Charter Vessel/Headboat Reef Fish Permit:

Are not allowed to fish in federal waters and may only fish for red snapper in state waters (within the 9 nautical mile state water boundary), when the Louisiana recreational red snapper season is open. They must also possess a valid Louisiana Charter Boat Fishing Guide License as well as a Charter Recreational Offshore Landing Permit (ROLP) for their clients to fish for or possess red snapper in Louisiana waters.

Red Snapper Season for Federal For-Hire Charter Vessels:

"Vessels with Federal Gulf of Mexico Charter Vessel/Headboat Reef Fish Permits will remain under federal regulations and may only fish during the 63-day federal for-hire season from June 1 through August 3, 2021.

If a federally permitted for-hire captain also holds a Louisiana Charter Boat Fishing Guide License, he/she may also fish state waters only when the federal for-hire season overlaps with the Louisiana recreational red snapper season. Must possess a Charter Recreational Offshore Landing Permit (ROLP) for their clients to possess red snapper in Louisiana waters."

Mississippi Red Snapper Season 2021:

Mississippi’s Red Snapper season will open for private recreational anglers and state for-hire vessels at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, May 28, 2021, with an anticipated mid-season closure date of July 5, 2021, at 11:59 p.m.

As with previous years, a mid-season closure will allow for Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) staff to compile landings information and examine the potential for a season extension.

The season will be open seven days a week in both state and federal waters. The season will close if the annual catch target (ACT) for recreational fishermen is projected to be reached at any point after the season opens. It will also close if the Gulf-wide quota is reached.

Private recreational anglers can fish out to 200 nautical miles. Vessels with state for-hire permits can fish in state territorial waters, which is nine nautical miles south of the barrier islands.

One angler per vessel, per trip is required to report through the MDMR Tails n’ Scales system. As a reminder, Marine Patrol officers encountering anglers fishing for or possessing Red Snapper without a trip authorization number will result in fish confiscation and fines.

Alabama Red Snapper Season 2021:

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Marine Resources Division has announced state and federal waters will open to private vessel anglers for red snapper fishing on Friday, May 28, 2021. The season will consist of four-day weekends, Friday through Monday, and continue until the private angler quota is projected to be met.

The season dates apply to anglers fishing from recreational vessels and state-licensed Alabama commercial party boats that do not hold federal for-hire fishing permits. Anglers fishing from federally permitted for-hire vessels have their own 63-day season beginning June 1, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. local time through August 3, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. local time.

As in recent years, Alabama will use Snapper Check to monitor landings during the season and will provide semi-weekly updates at www.outdooralabama.com. The exact Alabama private angler quota has not yet been provided by the National Marine Fisheries service but is anticipated to be similar to the 2020 quota which was 1,122,662 pounds. When the quota is anticipated to be met, MRD will announce a closure date.

Florida Red Snapper Season 2021:

On Friday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced the popular 2021 Gulf red snapper recreational season is set to open June 4 and run through July 28, with a possible fall reopening if quota is available.

According to the Governor, this will be the longest summer season anglers will have since the FWC started setting seasons for fishing in the Gulf state and federal waters off Florida. The State continues to provide access and opportunities for Florida families to enjoy the Fishing Capital of the World.

This season will apply to those fishing from private recreational vessels in Gulf state and federal waters, as well as charter vessels that do not have a federal reef fish permit and are limited to fishing in state waters only.

If you plan to fish for red snapper in state or federal waters from a private recreational vessel, even if you are exempt from fishing license requirements, you must sign up as a State Reef Fish Angler at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.

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MARCH 23, 2021 UPDATE: NOAA ANNOUNCES 2021 GULF OF MEXICO RED SNAPPER RECREATIONAL FOR-HIRE SEASON

After much publicity and countless rumors, the 2021 Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper season dates are out! The 2021 red snapper season will run for 63 days from 12:01am local time on Tuesday, June 1st until Tuesday, August 3rd at 12:01am local time.

Dates are still undisclosed for recreational private anglers and will be announced on a state by state basis for federal and state waters.

The red snapper total recreational quota is 7,399,000 pounds whole weight. 7% is allocated to private anglers while 42% is allocated to for-hire red snapper trips.

For context, the 2021 season will be 1 day longer than the 2020 and 2019 seasons and 12 days longer than the 2018 season. The recreational quota of 7,399,000 pounds of whole fish is equal to the 2020 and 2019 quotas and is 669,000 pounds more than 2018's quota. All in all, we're in for a long and healthy Red Snapper here in the gulf!

Book your 2021 Red Snapper trip with our licensed and insured Damn Good Guides Today! Check out our trips here!

red snapper season 2021

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MARCH 8, 2021 UPDATE: NOAA DEBATING LOWER QUOTAS FOR ALABAMA AND MISSISSIPPI

The Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council (part of the NOAA) is debating roughly 50% cuts to quotas in Alabama and Mississippi, and will decide further action on April 12-15.

CCA is pushing back on these numbers citing the Great Red Snapper Count, an independent 2 year analysis of snapper populations funded by Congress to get a true estimate of populations.

The data was released in November, and shows that populations are about 3 times as high as NOAA numbers and CCA, citing bad numbers and mismanagement by the NOAA, is pushing back on proposed harvest limits and urging anglers to do the same.*

The NOAA has historically been extremely clear about stating that snapper fisheries around the gulf are diminishing and that strict limits need to be set, and according to the new data it appears that is not at all the case. Many guides and anglers have been suspecting this to be the case for a while given the size and numbers of their catch.

Here's to hoping this new study leads to some change, and more anglers can get out on more days in the near future.

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What Is a Red Snapper?

man holding giant red snapper

Red snapper is one of the most highly sought after game fish in the Gulf of Mexico, and for good reason - they’re a blast to catch and delicious to eat (and they look awesome in pictures). Red snapper can be found greater than 50 feet deep and you’ll find them in reefs and by offshore rigs in the Gulf - every guide has their own little honey holes that they mark as having countless snapper. Red Snapper can also reach pretty substantial sizes; they can be 40 inches long and up to 50 pounds - no joke to bring up from the depths!!

Red snapper are a pleasure to catch, but this lead to overfishing from the end of World War II to the mid 1990’s due to a combination of increased commercial action and better access to boats for recreational anglers. A fishery rebuilding plan was implemented in 2005 with the goal of building the red snapper population back up by 2032 (the plan is working, by the way). This includes catch limits and specific fishing seasons, and means the red snapper season is the most limited (and sought after) of the species in the gulf.

Read on below for more info on the upcoming season.

What Is the 2021 Red Snapper Season?

two old men holding up big red snapper

What Is the Difference Between State and Federal Waters?

State waters and federal waters differ in terms of regulations (which can mean different seasons, different bag limits, and different size limits), so it can be crucial to know where you stand. Across most of the U.S., state waters extend to 3 nautical miles (1 nautical mile is just slightly over a normal mile), but in the Gulf of Mexico state waters are extended a little further, to 9 nautical miles. This means that for Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Gulf Coast of Florida, a recreational angler can head out 9 nautical miles and still fall under state regulations.

As mentioned above these boundaries will impact what an angler can catch and when, but this difference also has a big impact on guides - federal guiding permits in the Gulf of Mexico can be particularly hard to obtain (and more expensive). New permits haven’t been issues since 2003, which means the total number of guides is capped and guides need to purchase these permits from other captains. Federal waters are better for fishing, but finding a guide who is able to take you out to federal waters can be tricky with the limits on permits.

For example, Texas Parks & Wildlife has clarified state and federal Red Snapper limits here:

"Federal bag limit is two fish with a 16-inch minimum. State bag limit is four fish with a 15-inch minimum. The federal bag limit counts as part of the state bag limit for red snapper. Anglers may never have more than 4 red snapper in their possession while fishing."

group standing with tons of red snapper on the dock

Gulf of Mexico 2021 Federal Red Snapper Season

The 2021 red snapper season ran for 63 days from 12:01am local time on Tuesday, June 1st until Tuesday, August 3rd at 12:01am local time originally for for-hire vessels. The red snapper total recreational quota was 7,399,000 pounds whole weight. 7% was allocated to private anglers while 42% is allocated to for-hire red snapper trips. The NOAA also scheduled the reopening of the season for Friday, October 15 through Saturday, November 6. The season reopened after the recreational Red Snapper quota was not met.

Alabama State 2021 Red Snapper Season

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Marine Resources Division announced state and federal waters will open to private vessel anglers for red snapper fishing on Friday, May 28, 2021. The season consisted of four-day weekends, Friday through Monday, and continue until the private angler quota was met and closed on 11/29/2021.

Louisiana State 2021 Red Snapper Season

The 2021 recreational red snapper opened the Friday before Memorial Day on weekends only (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), including the Mondays of Memorial Day and Labor Day and the 4th of July regardless of the day of the week it fell upon. There is a a daily bag limit of two fish per person and a 16-inch total length minimum size limit. It then closed on September 7th, 2021.

Mississippi State 2021 Red Snapper Season

Mississippi’s red snapper season opened for private recreational anglers and state for-hire vessels at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, May 28, 2021, and closed on date of July 5, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. It then reopened on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, at 12:01 a.m and closed again on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, at 11:59 p.m.

Florida State 2021 Red Snapper Season

Florida's red snapper season opened on June 4th, 2021 and was closed on July 28th, 2021 after the quota had been met.

Texas State 2021 Red Snapper Season

The 2021 Texas Red Snapper season usually runs year round, however it closed on November 15th, 2021. Though, it plans to reopen on January 1, 2022.

What Is the 2021 Red Snapper Limit?

Men holding up a big red snapper

Gulf of Mexico 2021 Federal Red Snapper Limit

The 2021 red snapper limit in federal waters for recreational anglers was 2 per person per day over 16 inches, for a total of 7,399,000 pounds of recreational fish over the season, split between for-hire and private trips.

Alabama State 2021 Red Snapper Limit

The 2021 Alabama daily red snapper bag limit was 2 fish per angler (not including the guide or crew) at 16 inches minimum.

Louisiana State 2021 Red Snapper Limit

The 2021 Louisiana daily red snapper bag limit was 2 fish per angler (not including the guide or crew) at 16 inches minimum.

Mississippi State 2021 Red Snapper Limit

The 2021 Mississippi daily red snapper bag limit was 2 fish per angler (not including the guide or crew) at 16 inches minimum.

Florida State 2021 Red Snapper Limit

The 2021 Florida daily red snapper bag limit was 2 fish per angler (not including the guide or crew) at 16 inches minimum.

Texas State 2021 Red Snapper Limit

The 2020 Texas daily red snapper bag limit was 4 fish per angler (not including the guide or crew) at 15 inches minimum. We can expect the 2021 red snapper limit to be similar.

man holding large red snapper

Where Can I Catch Red Snapper Near Me And What Red Snapper Guide Should I Use?

Because of catch limits and the shortened season, red snapper fishing is hard to come by - there are only a few guides licensed to head out to federal waters, there are only a few days a year to head out, and the season can be further shortened if catch limits are reached early. This means if you want to go fishing for red snapper you need to book a guide further in advance than you normally might for another fishing trip.

Group of people fishing holding up red snappers

The Best Alabama 2021 Red Snapper Charters and Guides

Check out some of the top Captain Experiences red snapper charters in Alabama below, or search all red snapper trips in Alabama here.

The Best Louisiana 2021 Red Snapper Charters and Guides

Check out some of the top Captain Experiences red snapper charters in Louisiana below, or search all red snapper trips in Louisiana here.

The Best Mississippi 2021 Red Snapper Charters and Guides

Check out some of the top Captain Experiences red snapper charters in Mississippi below, or search all red snapper trips in Mississippi here.

The Best Florida 2021 Red Snapper Charters and Guides

Check out some of the top Captain Experiences red snapper charters in Florida below, or search all red snapper trips in Florida here.

The Best Texas 2021 Red Snapper Charters and Guides

Check out some of the top Captain Experiences red snapper charters in Texas below, or search all red snapper trips in Texas here.

man holding up red snapper on back of boat in gulf

Sources:

NOAA

Louisiana

Mississippi

Alabama

Florida

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