A special, three-day mini season for red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) opens Aug. 23, at 12:01 a.m., and remains open through midnight on Sunday. Anglers may keep one fish per day and there is no minimum size limit.
Red snapper in the South Atlantic were deemed severely overfished and the fishery was closed in 2010. The population is showing signs of recovery. So for conservation purposes, anglers are encouraged to keep the first fish they catch. Red snapper live at great depths—typically 100 feet and deeper—and fish reeled up from such depths can die even if released with great care due to the rapid changes in pressure that they pass through. Gases expand rapidly in their bodies, causing damage to their eyes and internal organs.
You can increase your chance of catching a big snapper first by increasing the sizes of the baits and hooks. I will be dropping down live menhaden and large strips of bonito on 10/0 circle hooks. I’ll bridle the menhaden so that the large hook doesn’t impale the baitfish at all, and to increase hookup rates.
Red snapper are most abundant from Stuart northward. The best fishing for the species takes place between roughly Port Canaveral and Amelia Island Anglers fishing out of Fort Pierce, Sebastian, Port Canaveral, Flagler Beach, New Smyrna, St. Augustine, Jacksonville and Fernandina Beach are likely to limit out.
You must carry a de-hooking device while bottom fishing in the South Atlantic. Anglers are also encouraged to use venting tools and/or recompression devices such as the SeaQualizer. Scientists and managers are asking angler to donate the carcasses so that they can figure out the fish’s age, among other important information for management.
You don’t have to quit once you’ve caught your red snappers. Fishing for gag grouper and black seabass has been good. There’s been a good wahoo bite offshore, and easterly seabreezes should make mahi fishing productive. We’re fishing out of Port Canaveral and making a day of it tomorrow. Good luck and be safe!