2017 Gulf Red Snapper Season Announced for Florida

The 78-day season runs May 6 through July 9 and reopens three days per week in September and October

red snapper in Gulf of Mexico
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced a 78-day season for Gulf of Mexico red snapper in state waters.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

The Gulf of Mexico red snapper season in Florida state waters opens May 6 on Saturdays and Sundays and will be open continuously starting May 27 and last through July 9.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced the 78-day season at its meeting in Havana. The season will reopen in September and October for just Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays — plus Labor Day, which is Monday, Sept. 4. Gulf state waters are from shore to 9 nautical miles.

Many recreational fishing-advocacy groups praised the announcement. Gary Jennings, director of Keep Florida Fishing, commended the "contrast" to the federal management's policies and "limited-to-zero" red snapper fishing days in Florida's federal waters.

“The FWC has done outstanding work balancing fishing access with sustainability," Jennings added. "We are thankful for the commission’s dedication to maintaining recreational fishing opportunities for red snapper in state waters.

Kellie Ralston, the Florida fishery policy director for American Sportfishing Association (ASA), said the season was made "through sound, science-based fisheries management" and added, "We are proud to have a state agency that considers all stakeholders, including Florida’s 3 million recreational anglers who contribute $53.3 million to conservation efforts through fishing licenses and excise taxes."

The topic of red snapper access has been widely debated, and not just in Florida. In March, a new federal grant was introduced to improve estimates of Gulf of Mexico red snapper population counts and provide recreational anglers more opportunities to fish for the species.

Ken Haddad, ASA's marine fisheries advisor and former FWC executive director, spoke at the meeting about a new report providing alternative management options for Gulf red snapper that may improve recreational fishing access.