Red Snapper Fishing
If you want to have some fun and have a chance to catch some hard fighting fish, then a red snapper fishing trip may just be what you need. These hard fighting fish are iconic for Alabama. That is because our artificial reef system that we have built and contributed to is vast and can be very productive. You can catch these fish on 6 hour trips or longer. If you want a chance to catch a limit then a full day trip may be best for you. These popular fish offer anglers some great light tackle action that rivals any other fishery. Beginning June 1, these fish offer Orange Beach fishermen the opportunity to have some fun and experience a fight of a lifetime. It is not uncommon to catch 5 to 10 fish per person on a charter trip, but if they are out of season, you must release them. These Red Snapper have to be 16 inches total length to keep them in season, but the average fish we are catching on charters today is about 16-18″ inches and weigh about to 5 pounds. If you would like to experience some fun fishing, this fish will almost certainly please your group.
About the Red Snapper
The northern Gulf of Mexico just south of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Alabama has one particular species of reef fish (finfish) that for over 40 years, has been the staple of many a charter boats and recreational fishermen. Yes, the Red Snapper (Lutjanus campechanus)is one amazing fish. These fish inhabit waters from 30 to 250 feet deep, but we have caught a few fish at depths of 300 feet. They have large body with big scales with an armored gill plate that will cut you like a razor if an angler tries to place his hand or fingers underneath them in order to get a better grip. Their dorsal fins are long, sharp, pointed and will stick the fire out of you if your not careful. These fish can weigh up to 45 pounds and live as long as 57 years. They are called Red Snapper because they are red in color. Some of the Red Snapper caught in shallow water have dark backs due to exposure to sunlight while those caught in deep water are almost pale looking. These fish reach sexual maturity at about 5 years of age, but the older the brood fish, the more eggs she produces.
Red Snapper Popularity in the Orange Beach and The Gulf of Mexico
In the mid 1980’s, fishermen began building more artificial reefs that would hold reef fish populations on them. A few old WWII Liberty Ships were cut up and sunk in the waters south of Orange Beach. These spots in the early 1980’s had a lot of fish on them, but there were not that many fishing spots that were man made. Technology was improving to a point where a charter boat or a recreational owned boat could go out and find artificial reefs with ease. With the improvement of technology came the increase number of reefs that were being built in the waters south of Alabama. He who builds artificial reefs, also was able to produce prolific fish like the Red Snapper. Over the past 30 years, there were an estimated 20,000 reefs made. Some believe there were more than that. One thing for sure, if it was not for artificial reefs in the waters off of Orange Beach, many charter boats would still be fishing for King Mackerel and Spanish Mackerel like they used too.
With the popularity of the Red Snapper growing among anglers and consumers so did over fishing of the species. With the Magnuson Stevens Act in place, fish like the Red Snapper could no longer be harvested to a point to where over fishing occurred. In 2008, the limits were cut from 4 Snapper per person plus captain and crew, down to 2 fish per person without the captain and crew. As you can see, if you had 6 people on board and a captain and a deckhand, you could harvest 32 Red Snappers. Before 2008, the Red Snapper season opened on April 21 and stayed open until October 31 each year. With a season that long, it was no wonder why many reefs off of Alabama did not have fish over the legal size of 16″ total length.
The charter boat season for 2021 begins June 1 and runs daily through August 2, 2021. You may keep two per person. If keeping a limit is important to you, you need to plan on taking a trip 8 hour or longer after the first two weeks of the season. This is because fishing pressure is high on reefs closer to land. We are now having to go 30 miles or beyond to catch larger red snapper. So, if keeping a limit of red snapper fish is a priority, you need to budget for a longer fishing trip.
One thing you need to know about red snapper fishing is: A lot of them will die if you release them improperly. That is why it is important to either vent the red snapper or use a fish descending tool. Either of these devices or tools will help the fish survive from barotrauma.