October 15, 2023

Red Snapper Season Florida: Essential Guide for Anglers

Red snapper season in Florida attracts anglers from far and wide every year, offering an exciting opportunity to harvest this popular and delicious fish. In 2023, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) announced a record-breaking Gulf red snapper season, aiming to provide an extended opportunity for recreational fishers to enjoy their time out on the water and contribute to the statewide economy.

Federal and state waters in Florida offer prime conditions for red snapper populations to thrive, with various regulations in place to ensure the sustainability of these fisheries. It's essential to understand the seasonal timelines for red snapper in Florida and follow the appropriate guidelines when fishing for this sought-after species. Knowledge of the best fishing locations and state management of red snapper will help lead to a successful and enjoyable experience for anglers during the 2023 red snapper season.

Key Takeaways

  • Florida's 2023 Gulf red snapper season offers extended opportunities for recreational anglers.
  • Adhering to regulations and understanding the seasonal timelines is essential for sustainable red snapper fishing.
  • Knowledge of prime fishing locations and state management practices enhances the overall experience for anglers.

Red Snapper Season Florida 2023

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has made significant updates to the red snapper season in Florida for 2023. The Gulf Red Snapper Recreational Fall Season has been extended by 17 days, making it the longest combined season since the state began managing red snapper.

The 2023 red snapper season consists of a summer season and a fall season. The summer season runs from June 16th through July 31st, while the fall season is open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday throughout the months of September, October, and November. The fall season also includes additional fishing days on Labor Day and Thanksgiving day.

Governor Ron DeSantis announced the extension of the already record 2023 recreational Gulf red snapper season, which now totals 70 days, highlighting his commitment to providing Floridians and visitors with ample opportunity to participate in recreational fishing.

The 2023 red snapper quota in Florida has been set at 2,191,315 lbs, with specific allocations for the summer and fall seasons. The FWC closely monitors the quotas and adjusts them as needed to ensure the sustainable management of red snapper populations.

Florida's red snapper season attracts anglers from all over the country, with many popular locations for catching this sought-after fish along the state's Gulf Coast. It is essential for anglers to familiarize themselves with the rules and regulations, including size and bag limits, in order to ensure a successful and responsible fishing experience.

By offering an extended red snapper season in 2023, Florida continues to demonstrate its commitment to supporting recreational fishing, while simultaneously ensuring the sustainable management and conservation of the state's valuable marine resources.

Federal and State Waters in Florida

Federal Waters

Federal waters in Florida are an important location for recreational fishing, particularly during the red snapper season. In the Gulf of Mexico, the federal Red Snapper season for 2023 will start on June 1 and end on August 25. Additionally, the NOAA Fisheries announced the 2023 Atlantic federal recreational red snapper season dates: July 14th and 15th. Federal waters are areas beyond the 9 nautical mile limit from the shore, where the federal government has jurisdiction over resources.

During the red snapper season, vessels with a federal for-hire reef fish permit are allowed to fish in federal waters. The 2023 red snapper fishing season for such vessels is set for 85 days, opening at 12:01 a.m., local time, on June 1, 2023, and closing at 12:01 a.m., local time, on August 25, 2023.

State Waters

State waters in Florida extend to 9 nautical miles from the shoreline and are under the jurisdiction of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. For the 2023 season, the Florida Red Snapper Season will run from June 16 until July 31.

It is important to note that for-hire operations without a federal reef fish permit are limited to fishing for red snapper in Florida Gulf state waters only. In 2023, a record 70-day Gulf Red Snapper season has been announced, which includes both a 46-day summer season and a 24-day fall season. This applies to private recreational vessels as well as charter vessels without a federal reef fish permit that are limited to fishing in state waters.

Red Snapper Harvest and Regulations

Recreational Regulations

The red snapper season in Florida for 2023 is set to open on June 16 and run consecutively through July 31. Following this period, the season will reopen on September 1 for 3-day weekends in September, October, and November (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), as well as Labor Day and Thanksgiving Day source. Recreational anglers should be aware of the regulations and follow them diligently to ensure a sustainable harvest of this popular saltwater fish species.

Bag Limit and Size Requirement

For red snapper in Florida, there is a daily recreational bag limit of 10 red snapper per harvester when measuring under 30 inches. This limit is included within the snapper aggregate bag limit source. Additionally, harvesters can take up to 2 snappers measuring over 30 inches per person or vessel, whichever is less. These two larger fish are not included within the aggregate bag limit.

In terms of size requirements, both Atlantic and Gulf red snapper have a minimum size limit of 12 inches source. Adherence to these size requirements is crucial for maintaining a sustainable population and allowing young snappers a chance to grow and reproduce.

Anglers participating in the red snapper season should familiarize themselves with the recreational regulations, bag limits, and size requirements to ensure a sustainable harvest and continued availability of this highly sought-after fish species.

Seasonal Timeline for Red Snapper in Florida

Summer Season

The summer season for red snapper in Florida typically starts in June and can last until the end of July. For 2023, the summer season will commence on June 16th and run continuously through July 31st. This 46-day summer season provides ample opportunities for anglers to catch the prized red snapper during popular occasions such as Father's Day and the Fourth of July.

Florida's summer red snapper season aims to accommodate both novice and experienced anglers, with the Gulf of Mexico presenting a diverse range of fish species to target. With the state's warm climate and abundance of coastline, fishing during the summer season is a popular activity among tourists and locals alike.

Fall Season

In addition to the summer season, Florida also offers a fall snapper season. The fall season for red snapper in 2023 will reopen on September 1st, and it will include 3-day weekends throughout September, October, and November. This means that every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during these months, angling enthusiasts can once again target red snapper.

The specific fall season weekend dates to keep in mind are:

  • September: Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
  • October 8-9, 15-16, and 22-23
  • November 11-13 and 25-27

Furthermore, Labor Day and Thanksgiving Day are also included in the fall snapper season, adding even more opportunities for anglers to try their luck in catching these sought-after fish.

By offering both summer and fall seasons for red snapper, Florida aims to provide an unparalleled experience for those interested in saltwater fishing. The combination of these two seasons results in a record 70 days of snapper fishing opportunities throughout the year, making Florida a top destination for avid fishermen and families alike.

Fishing Locations in Florida

Destin, The Fishing Capital

Destin, often referred to as the "Fishing Capital of the World," is an ideal location for anglers to experience Florida's red snapper season. With clear waters and a diverse underwater habitat, Destin provides the perfect environment for red snapper populations to thrive. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has set the dates for the 2023 Gulf red snapper season, which will run from June 16 to July 31, and then reopen on weekends in September, October, and November, as well as Labor Day and Thanksgiving Day.

Anglers visiting Destin can choose from a variety of fishing spots, both inshore and offshore. Inshore waters are home to an array of artificial reefs that attract red snapper, while deeper offshore waters offer natural ledges and structures where these fish congregate. Fishing techniques that are effective in these areas include bottom fishing and vertical jigging.

Florida Panhandle

The Florida Panhandle, stretching along the state's northern Gulf Coast, offers numerous opportunities for red snapper fishing. The area's favorable conditions, such as warm waters and abundant food supply, make it a popular location for both recreational and professional fishermen. The coastal regions of the Panhandle, extending from Pensacola to Apalachicola, boast a high concentration of red snapper habitats, including natural and artificial reefs.

Fishing in the Florida Panhandle can be a rewarding experience for anglers of all skill levels. Local fishing charters provide guided trips catering to both novice and experienced fishermen, ensuring a successful outing. Popular angling hotspots in the Panhandle include the Pensacola Bay Bridge, Apalachicola Bay, and numerous offshore reefs, all teeming with red snapper during the fishing season.

In conclusion, both Destin and the Florida Panhandle offer exceptional fishing opportunities for red snapper enthusiasts. With rich underwater habitats and a vast expanse of coastline, Florida's northern Gulf Coast is a prime location for anglers looking to make a memorable catch during the red snapper season.

Understanding Red Snapper

Habitat of Red Snapper

Red snappers are a popular fish species found primarily in the Gulf of Mexico. These fish thrive in warm, subtropical waters and are often found near coral reefs, rocky structures, and artificial reefs such as shipwrecks. Juvenile red snappers tend to inhabit shallower waters, staying near the coast in depths of 30 to 150 feet. As they grow older and larger, red snappers migrate to deeper waters, which can range from 150 to 300 feet, where they find suitable structures to call home.

Feeding Habits of Red Snapper

The feeding habits of red snappers can vary depending on their size, age, and environment. These fish are predators and feed on various creatures within their ecosystem, with a diet that primarily consists of smaller fish and crustaceans. Juvenile red snappers often feast on smaller fish, plankton, and shrimp, while adult red snappers consume larger prey items, such as squid, crustaceans, and other fish species.

Red snappers are opportunistic feeders, meaning that their diet can vary based on the availability of food in their habitat. They use their strong body and sharp teeth to ambush and catch their prey, demonstrating a well-adapted hunting strategy for living in their natural environment.

Fishing for Red Snapper in Florida

License Requirements

When fishing for red snapper in Florida, it is important to ensure that you have the proper license requirements in place. A recreational saltwater fishing license is necessary for both residents and non-residents to participate in red snapper fishing. Additionally, anglers targeting reef fish like red snapper must sign up for the State Reef Fish Survey. Don't forget to check FWC's website for up-to-date information on licenses and regulations.

Fishing Methods and Tools

Circle Hooks: Circle hooks are required when using natural bait for red snapper fishing. These hooks are designed to catch the fish in the corner of the mouth, reducing the chances of gut-hooking and increasing the survival rate of released fish.

Natural Bait: Red snapper are commonly attracted to natural bait such as squid, sardines, and pinfish. Using fresh bait can significantly increase your chances of catching red snapper.

Spoons: When targeting red snapper, using fishing spoons is another effective method. These shiny, spoon-shaped lures imitate the movement of small baitfish, attracting the attention of hungry red snapper.

To make the most of your red snapper fishing experience in Florida, be sure to follow local fishing regulations and use the appropriate methods and tools for a successful and enjoyable outing.

State Management of Red Snapper Fisheries

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is responsible for managing the state's red snapper fisheries. They ensure sustainable fishing practices and healthy fish populations by implementing regulations and managing fishing seasons. In 2023, FWC announced the Gulf red snapper season to open on June 16 and run consecutively through July 31. The season will then reopen on September 1 for 3-day weekends in September, October, and November (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), as well as on Labor Day and Thanksgiving Day.

Governor Ron DeSantis has supported the efforts of the FWC by announcing a record 70-day 2023 Gulf red snapper recreational season, including both a 46-day summer season and a 24-day fall season. The governor also announced a 17-day extension of the already record season, adding every Friday through Sunday in September, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving Day to the previously announced season.

State Reef Fish Survey

To effectively manage red snapper fisheries, the FWC has introduced the State Reef Fish Survey (SRFS). This survey collects information on catch, effort, and release mortality from state reef fish anglers. The data gathered by the SRFS is vital for informing management decisions and ensuring the long-term sustainability of Florida's reef fish populations.

State reef fish anglers are required to participate in the SRFS and must sign up annually as a State Reef Fish Angler. By signing up, they help FWC gather essential data on recreational fishing activities and contribute to the proper management of Florida's reef fish resources.

Charter Fishing for Red Snapper

Charter Vessels

Charter vessels provide an excellent opportunity for anglers to target red snapper while experiencing all that Florida's coastal waters have to offer. These vessels are typically fully equipped with fishing gear, bait, and experienced captains who know the best locations for catching red snapper. A day on a charter vessel usually consists of several hours of fishing, with opportunities for both beginners and advanced anglers to hone their skills and potentially reel in a trophy catch.

Charter vessels come in various sizes and capacities, and prices may vary depending on the length of the trip and the amenities offered onboard. When looking for a suitable charter, it's important to consider factors such as the trip duration, the number of passengers, and any specific fishing goals or techniques you may want to explore.

For-Hire Operations

For-hire operations offer an alternative to traditional charter fishing by providing services specifically tailored to individual anglers or smaller groups. These operations usually have access to a range of vessels and can customize the fishing experience to suit their clients' needs. The 2023 Florida red snapper season will run from June 16 until July 31, making it the ideal time to book a for-hire operation to target this popular species.

Licensed for-hire charters are subject to the same regulations as private anglers, with a daily bag limit of two red snapper per person and a 16-inch minimum length requirement. Booking a trip with a for-hire operation ensures expert guidance and the advantage of local knowledge when it comes to finding the best fishing spots and utilizing the most effective techniques for catching red snapper.

Whether opting for a full-service charter vessel or a customized for-hire operation, anglers looking to target red snapper in Florida have numerous opportunities to enjoy a memorable fishing experience. By taking advantage of the expertise and resources offered by these services, fishermen can increase their chances of a successful catch and make the most of their time on the water during the prime red snapper season.

Current Updates on Red Snapper Season

The 2023 Florida Gulf red snapper season has seen significant improvements and additions to its schedule, making it a record-long season. Governed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, this year's season opened on June 16 and ran consecutively through July 31. The season reopened on September 1, offering 3-day weekends for fishing enthusiasts in September, October, and November, along with Labor Day and Thanksgiving Day.

A recent initiative known as the Great Red Snapper Count has helped assess the red snapper population in the Gulf of Mexico. The study's findings have contributed to better management of the fishery, leading to an extended season with increased recreational opportunities for anglers.

Some noteworthy locations for red snapper fishing in Florida include the Atlantic coast and Okaloosa County. The latter, known as the luckiest fishing village, offers a wide variety of fishing options, from on-shore fishing spots to charter boats taking you out into the deeper Gulf waters.

Florida's management strategies for the red snapper season also extend to the Atlantic regulations. Here, the state works together with other governing bodies to protect the red snapper population while balancing the needs of recreational and commercial fishing industries.

In conclusion, the 2023 Florida red snapper season has benefited from updated management strategies, the Great Red Snapper Count and the collaboration with Atlantic regulations. The extended season provides new and exciting recreational opportunities for anglers exploring the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, particularly in popular fishing areas such as the luckiest fishing village in Okaloosa County.

Species Related to Red Snapper

Vermilion and Silk Snapper

Vermilion Snapper, also known as mingo snapper, is a species closely related to the red snapper. They are found in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, including Florida waters. Vermilion snappers can be distinguished by their color, which ranges from red to silver with yellow and blue lines running along their bodies. They are generally smaller than red snapper, with a maximum length of around 24 inches and a weight of up to 7 pounds. Vermilion snappers are known for their schooling behavior and are commonly found near reefs and structures at depths of 80 to 350 feet.

Silk Snapper, another relative of the red snapper, can be found in the western Atlantic Ocean, including the southeast coast of Florida. They inhabit depths of 180 to 700 feet, primarily around rocky reefs or ledges. Silk snappers are easily recognized by their pink to red color along with a distinctive yellow eye. Their maximum size can reach up to 30 inches in length and 12 pounds in weight. Similar to other snappers, they are a popular target for recreational anglers due to their fighting ability and tasty flesh.

Both vermilion and silk snapper are managed with size and bag limits to ensure their sustainability. It is essential for anglers targeting these species to be knowledgeable about the current regulations to contribute to their conservation.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does red snapper season begin in Florida?

The 2023 Gulf red snapper season in Florida will open on June 16 and run consecutively through July 31, 2023 1. Additionally, the season will reopen on September 1 for 3-day weekends in September, October, and November (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), as well as Labor Day and Thanksgiving Day1.

What is the size limit for red snapper in Florida?

In Florida, the minimum size limit for red snapper is 16 inches 2.

How long is the red snapper season in Florida?

The initial 2023 red snapper season in Florida runs from June 16 to July 31, 2023 1. However, the season reopens on September 1 for 3-day weekends during September, October, and November, as well as Labor Day and Thanksgiving Day1.

What is the daily bag limit for red snapper in Florida?

The daily bag limit for red snapper in Florida is two fish per person2.

Are there different red snapper regulations for state and federal waters?

Yes, there are different regulations for red snapper in state and federal waters. The provided information above refers to the state waters regulations. For more information and regulations in federal waters, consult the NOAA Fisheries website.

How does Florida's red snapper season compare to nearby states?

Each state has different dates for red snapper season in the Gulf of Mexico. To compare Florida's red snapper season with those of nearby states, visit the FishingBooker website, which provides detailed information on red snapper season dates and regulations for all states in the Gulf region.


  1. FWC - Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 2 3 4
  2. FishingBooker 2
Charlie Hardcastle
Charlie is Editor-in-Chief of Sea Magazine
© 2024 SeaMag. All rights reserved.