Snapper season halfway done, just started
By Chester Moore, Jr.
Texas anglers are in the middle of the now annual red snapper season.
The only problem is the season began Monday (June 1) and runs through the 10.
That’s right. Anglers are allowed to fish a whopping 10 days in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, unless they hire a charter vessel under new framework announced by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
According to Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) officials, the recreational season in federal waters is set for June 1-10, while a new for-hire charter recreational season will run June 1-July 14.
The daily bag limit for red snapper caught in federal waters is two with a minimum length limit of 16 inches. In Texas state waters out to nine nautical miles, there is no closed season on red snapper and the daily bag limit is four with a 15-inch minimum.
While there are a few red snapper within the state waters range out of Sabine Pass, the year-round season in Texas waters benefits anglers mainly from Port Aransas south to Port Isabel where the water gets deeper much more quickly.
There are only handful who get the benefit here.
According to TPWD, the new recreational red snapper sector division framework is the result of recent passage of Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Amendment 40 by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Amendment 40 divides the recreational fishery quota between private recreational anglers fishing off of federally-permitted vessels and those who fish off of their own boat. The commercial red snapper fishing segment is not affected by the amendment.
To say the snapper fishery has been mismanaged would be a vast understatement. It has been managed to the point that snapper are pretty much irrelevant among Texas fishermen, particularly those on the Upper Coast with little year-round state water access.
The recreational fishery gets continually railroaded and along with high fuel prices over the last decade is the reason there are so many ‘for sale’ signs on local offshore boats.
Snapper were the meat and potatoes of the Gulf fishery. They were the species you went after and if you caught a ling, a few kingfish or a grouper that was a bonus.
They were the reason anglers fished offshore. And now the regulation of the fishery is the reason few anglers venture past the jetties anymore.
TPWD wants anglers to help assist in the effort to track Texas landings of red snapper this season by reporting their catches.
This year, TPWD is partnering with the Harte Research Institute in a voluntary electronic reporting system that will enable anglers to report landings online and through a new mobile app. The new mobile app is available for download now and anglers can begin reporting their red snapper catch. More information is available at www.iSnapper.org.
Texas does a good job of managing its fishery and hopefully this new project will shine some light on information that will eventually allow Texas anglers to harvest more red snapper.
Many Southeast Texas anglers would love to have a viable year-round fishery in federal waters again.
We can hope.
(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can hear him on Moore Outdoors Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online atwww.klvi.com.)