Consider it an early gift from NOAA Fisheries to recreational anglers in the South Atlantic region.
After rough seas wiped out most of the six-day red snapper mini-season held the first two weekends in November, recreational fishermen are getting one more shot at the species in 2017.
The species will be open for harvest once again for another three-day weekend, Dec. 8-10, in South Atlantic waters with the bag limit of one fish per person per day with no minimum size limit remaining the same.
When the original red snapper mini-season was scheduled, a catch limit of 29,656 fish was set. As of mid-November, preliminary estimates showed the limit was not met, thanks in large part to rough seas.
Harvest projections indicated the additional three-day opening would not result in the total harvest exceeding the catch limit.
Information and data provided by recreational fishermen through the new pilot electronic reporting project MyFishCount.com were considered by NOAA Fisheries in extending the mini-season for another three days.
For Capt. Shane Bashor of Sidekick Charters in Murrells Inlet, the first two weekends of red snapper fishing were typical of so many charter, party and private boats along the Southeast coast - one good day of fishing was followed by five days of rough seas which canceled trips offshore to bottom spots where red snapper can be found.
On Nov. 3, opening day of the mini-season, Bashor and crew caught and released three small red snapper, but moved to another spot and landed a pair in the 15-pound range. Bashor was fishing in depths of 110 to 130 feet.
“I’m glad (the season’s being re-opened) because there weren’t many good weather days,” said Bashor. “I suspect it was bad weather in North Carolina, Georgia and Florida, too.”
Bashor had two scheduled trips blown out during the second weekend of the mini-season, revenue-making trips he hopes to make up next weekend during a time of year when they are few and far between.
“I’m trying to get some trips together,” said Bashor. “I’m just hoping the weather holds. That’s always the catch this time of year – weather problems.”