Yes, Capt. Justin Witten is glad to see a season for red snapper in the South Atlantic Region in 2018, but he simply would like to see it open for more days to account for inevitable rough seas.
On Monday NOAA Fisheries announced the red snapper season for recreational anglers will open for six days on back-to-back August weekends, Aug. 10-12 and 17-19.
“I wish they’d have it open more days than six,” Witten, owner/operator of Ambush Sport Fishing out of Murrells Inlet, said. “If the weather’s nice, that’s great but they opened it for nine days last year and there was one questionable weather day and all the others were not fishable.”
In 2017, the red snapper season was held in November, and Witten is hopeful more tranquil seas will be in the offing this year during the Dog Days of August.
For recreational anglers, red snapper can be harvested on the six days in federal waters (beyond three miles offshore) with a daily bag limit of one fish per person per day and no minimum size limit.
For the commercial fishing sector, the season opened on Thursday and will close on Dec. 31, unless the commercial annual catch limit (ACL) is met or projected to be met sooner. The commercial limit per trip is 75 pounds (gutted weight).
Red snapper have been caught and released commonly on offshore bottom spots off the South Carolina coast this year, an ongoing trend in recent years.
“You can find them pretty much anywhere out there on ledges or live bottom in 80-120 feet (of water),” said Witten. “It doesn’t really matter. I usually use a Carolina rig with live bait to target bigger fish, but I’ve caught them on everything including cut bait on a two-hook rig.”
During the red snapper season, marine resource agency personnel from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida will be conducting surveys at various locations and collecting samples from fishermen. Anglers are encouraged to provide carcasses for data collection.
Fishermen are also urged to help minimize the number of released red snapper and help improve the likelihood that released fish will survive.
If a boat’s limit of red snapper is caught, anglers are urged to move to a different area to avoid unnecessary catch and release of more red snapper.
Anglers are also advised to use single hook rigs - since the bag limit is 1 per person, as this potentially reduces the number of red snapper caught on one drop.
The use of descending devices is encouraged when releasing red snapper suffering from barotrauma.
Recreational anglers are encouraged to report the details of their red snapper fishing trips via www.MyFishCount.com, which allows anglers to report their catches using photos to document lengths, as well as depths from which fish are caught.
The MyFishCount app is available via smart phones.