Red Snapper Fishing Overview

You'll never hear of a more hyped up season than red snapper fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. As summer approaches, anglers get more and more pent up to catch one of the most delicious fish in the sea. Red snapper can be caught all across the Gulf, from Texas to Florida, and are a hugely important gamefish. But it is also an important commercial fish, and with all this attention comes a price - both federal and state governments set incredibly strict guidelines for how many fish can be pulled and when. Since the season is so limited, charters are hard to find and every boat that heads out is filled to the brim with anglers looking to catch their limit. Don't miss the opportunity to get out there and book your red snapper charter as soon as possible.

Recent Reviews

★★★★★
We had great trip! Matt and Taylor worked really hard to make sure we had a wonderful experience. Highly recommend!

Kimberly T. with Matthew Champion of Destin, Florida

★★★★★
It was great even though we had a little bad weather. The Captain was awesome and put use on fish right when we left. The deck hand was great and helped everyone out and kept us going. I would so use them again and again.

JAMES C. with Harold Staples of Destin, Florida

★★★★★
Our trip with Gulf Bay charters with Captain Rick and his first rate deckhand Logan was fantastic. They put us on multiple fish of different types and we tried different methods, some trolling, a lot of bottom fishing and some deep water with electric reels. We caught a lot of large triggerfish, three King mackerels and enough Mingo (vermillion) snapper that we had far too much fish to eat over the next two days. The boat was fantastic, offering the six of us more than enough space to spread out and all fish at once, and Logan was knowledgeable and efficient at everything. I really enjoyed catching a small shark and we had a larger one steal some of our fish to add a little excitement. Near the end of the day we had a large amberjack up to the boat but unfortunately he got off. We played with a few barracuda as well, caught a few snapper and small groupers that we couldn't keep and in between spots, we could chat and I enjoyed learning about the local waters and the trade. I personally caught 22 fish and my son got 21 so we were busy. The weather was near perfect and Rick adeptly steered us around a small storm, where we got to see a waterspout. I would highly recommend Gulf Bay - we had a blast and really enjoyed getting to learn from a couple of true professionals. Thank you Captain Rick, thank you Logan!

mike c. with Rick Durant of Pensacola, Florida

★★★★★
AMAZING! Captain Aaron was great. It was a day to remember and we will absolutely be back.

Jennifer M. with Rodney Harper of Freeport, Texas

★★★★★
Great trip. Captain Bryan was awesome.

Brady S. with Bryars Bishop of Orange Beach, Alabama

★★★★★
Captain Marshall was great! He will work his butt off. The Owners were real nice and knowledgeable of their business. Our next fishing trip we will use Outkast again!

THOMAS D. with Rodney Harper of Freeport, Texas

★★★★★
We had a great time with Nick. I love when a guide is so determined to get you on the fish that they’re almost stressed when they’re not biting. Nick refused to allow the fish to hide. He busted his butt to get everyone to their red snapper limit and we even ended up fishing a bit over the time we had allotted to make sure we had our best shot. We had a blast, and I would definitely recommend Nick. We’re going home with a cooler full of snapper, so that’s a win!

Brad L. with Nick Tate of Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

★★★★★
Absolutely, hands down the BEST experience!! Captain Lee and crew were awesome, fun, and great with the boys!! If you don’t go with this crew, you are missing out.

Jodye S. with Lee Crisler of Galveston, Texas

★★★★★
Excellent trip with Captain Donnie! An experience every sportsman needs. Tails Up/Sea Cruiser will be my only go to when fishing out of Venice. Donnie is a true professional and will make sure you get on the fish no matter what it takes. His new Contender is a battle wagon and he and his crew are second to none.

Brad H. with Donnie Jackson of Venice, Louisiana

★★★★★
We had a great time on our trip, to do it again

Richard S. with Rodney Harper of Freeport, Texas

Everything You Need to Know About Red Snapper Fishing

What is a red snapper?

The northern red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) is a type of snapper most commonly found around the Gulf of Mexico, and is both the most populous and most sought after snapper in the area. It is both an important commercial and recreational fish, and red snapper season is one of the most recognizable times on the gamefish calendar for the area - many anglers have it circled on their calendar half a year ahead of time.

Red snapper are a medium-sized fish and (obviously) very red in color, and red snapper in deeper waters tend to be more red than those that live shallower. While most snapper get their name from their enlarged canine teeth (known as snappers), red snapper actually do not, but still have fairly sharp teeth so be careful handling their mouths.

How big do red snapper get?

Red snapper generally reaches maturity when they reach 15 inches at 2-5 years old, and an average adult might be 20 to 35 inches or more. They can live for up to 50 years, and interestingly will reach maturity faster and at a smaller size in Texas versus other parts of the Gulf. Adults will range from 10 to 20 pounds, and generally deeper water will mean larger fish.

Whats the biggest red snapper ever caught?

The world record red snapper weighed a crazy 50 pounds 4 ounces and was caught off the Louisiana coast by Doc Kennedy in 1996.

Where is the best place to catch red snapper?

While they range all over the Carribbean and up the Atlantic Coast, red snapper are most common and most abundant in the Gulf of Mexico. The most popular places to catch red snapper are in the panhandle of Florida or off the coast of central Texas.

Red snapper live on the bottom, and will inhabit rocky bottoms or other structure and reefs (or artificial reefs like offshore oil rigs). They are social fish and will form large schools where they find good structure, which is why every guide has a series of honey holes of their own where they know schools of snapper are sure to be. Schools also tend to be made up of fish of similar sizes.

Red snapper will generally live between 30-300 feet deep, with bigger fish inhabiting deeper waters further from shore. Their preferred habitat changes as they mature, and while younger fish will inhabit more open areas, older and bigger fish will seek more and more cover.

When should I catch red snapper?

The season for red snapper is interesting because it does not depend on fish behavior, but rather regulations set by the NOAA to set catch limits. The NOAA has set rebuilding plans for red snapper fisheries both in the Gulf of Mexico and on the lower Atlantic Coast, and both of these plans look to rebuild populations into the future. As such, there are annual catch limits, size limits, and season limits for both commercial and recreational anglers. Seasons and limits are set each year, and the federal limit can also differ from state water limits. The total catch limit is generally divided as 49% recreational and 51% commercial.

How do you catch red snapper?

Red snapper will eat almost anything, but live or frozen bait is generally easier than lures, although jigs are definitely still successful. The tricky thing about red snapper is that they tend to nibble rather than swallow, so you need to have a light touch and know when to hook them. The common frustration of many an angler is putting bait after bait down and jigging it only to reel up empty hook after empty hook.

Bigger snapper like structure, so to target them you'll hit reefs, wrecks, and offshore rigs. Sometimes the snapper can be caught by freelining, but generally they will be on the bottom. It goes without saying that if you want to catch a big red snapper, you need to use a big bait, generally a whole squid.

If you are releasing fish, you are required by law to use circle hooks and dehooking devices.

Are red snapper good to eat? What are the best red snapper recipes?

Red snapper might be king of the white fish. It is a prized fish for anglers to catch and eat as well as a prized fish commercially. The texture is firm and slightly sweet and nutty that goes well a number of different ways with a number of different ingredients. Many people will cook it whole or grill it skin-on, which will protect the fish from the flames and help it retain some of its flavor.