2017 Gulf Red Snapper Season FAQs

When can private recreational anglers and for-hire captains that have a charter license ONLY harvest red snapper in state waters? 

  • Sats & Suns May 6-21
  • Daily May 27 through June 18
  • Fris, Sats & Suns June 23 through Sept. 4  
  • July 3, 4 and Sept. 4
  • State waters will be closed during this season Mondays through Thursdays starting Monday, June 19 (summer weekdays and fall weekends were traded in order to obtain additional federal days)
  • State waters will not reopen for recreational red snapper harvest this fall as previously scheduled.

When can private recreational anglers harvest red snapper in federal waters?

  • 39-day season opening Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Friday, June 16 through Monday, Sept. 4 including Monday and Tuesday, July 3-4 and Monday, Sept. 4
  • This equates to a 42-day federal private angler season when you include the 3 days that have already occurred June 1-3.

Can for-hire vessels participate in the state season?

  • For-hire vessels with state charter licenses may only fish for red snapper in state waters during the state waters season described above.
  • Federally-permitted for-hire vessels can only fish for red snapper in Gulf state waters when both the state waters season and the federal for-hire season overlaps.  The federal for-hire season opened June 1 and runs continuously through July 19.

Why is FWC changing the state season?

  • Discussions between the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Gulf states led to a consensus to add a substantial number of additional red snapper fishing days in federal waters this summer 2017 by trading some state recreational red snapper fishing days.
  • The FWC held a special public meeting June 9 to gain feedback from the public on the potential season change. The majority of input was in favor of trading state days for a longer federal season.

How was this season selected?

  • This season was proposed by the U.S. Department of Commerce based on discussions with the Gulf states. Each state had to trade state red snapper fishing days in order to gain days in federal waters.

Do I need to sign up for the Gulf Reef Fish Survey? 

  • Yes, if you plan on targeting reef fish such as red snapper from a private recreational vessel, you need to sign up for the Gulf Reef Fish Survey –please go to MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Reef Fish Survey.”

Will this season apply in 2018?

  • This new adjusted season is for 2017 only.

Were there any other changes to red snapper regulations?

  • No. All other state and federal regulations including the 16 inch total length size limit and the 2-fish per person daily bag limit remain the same.

Why doesn’t this season apply to the east coast of Florida?

  • Atlantic red snapper are overfished and overfishing is occurring according to the 2016 stock assessment.
  • Recreational harvest of red snapper is open in Florida state waters year around (shore to 3 miles), but recreational harvest of snapper is closed in federal waters (3- 200 miles).
  • The South Atlantic Council manages red snapper in federal waters and NOAA Fisheries implements federal fishing regulations. 
  • The South Atlantic Council established a process for setting a season based on allowable harvest levels (includes landings and dead discards).  This process does not allow a season in a given year if the harvest and dead discards in the previous year exceeded that year’s allowable harvest level.
    • Because of high levels of recreational discards and high discard mortality rates, no seasons were allowed in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
    • The South Atlantic Council is working to develop a new system for establishing a quota and other red snapper regulations, which may provide future harvest opportunities in Atlantic federal waters.



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