Help! Florida’s Red Snapper Weekend Causes Some Problems

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The two-day “season” of South Atlantic red snapper has come and gone, and in its wake there are the usual nods and general consensus.

“There must be a better way.”

Good news: Florida Fish and Wildlife Office employees are trying to help in this effort.

Bad news: Eventually, they have to convince the feds.

More fishing news: Admit it, you’re going to catch catfish. What do you do after?

Growth: New Smyrna Outfitters expands its fishing footprint

Summer on the water: When they bring the heat, get the big stuff out

If you’re interested, there was a lot to learn last weekend at the New Smyrna Beach public boat launch on the North Causeway, where a crew of FWC fieldworkers chronicled catches. of snappers.

They also put on their DNA caps, chiseling ear bones, cutting off pieces of fins and chatting with anglers to get a roundabout idea of ​​where they were catching their individual limits of one red snapper a day.

To research!

The hope seems to be, let’s gather enough evidence to show NOAA’s Fisheries Division that it’s okay to loosen the grip on red snapper harvesting. The ear bone (the otolithtechnically) can be examined, and its rings, like a tree, indicate the age of a fish.

DNA from fin clippings helps determine how many different family trees are found in the sea – the more the better, of course.

Interestingly or infuriatingly, it’s different on the Gulf Coast of Florida, where the state of Florida is responsible for determining red snapper season. Yes, there is a difference there. They get a total of 57 days from mid-June through Thanksgiving weekend — 45 days upfront, then five more weekends (including two three-day weekends).

Depressed enough already? We haven’t even talked about the danger of it all, as impatient “sailors”, many of whom are aging SS Minnowsjust “go out” and get that annual red snapper.

The word on the street suggests that the words in the ocean were sometimes “Mayday, mayday!” It was a busy few days for the Coast Guard, but past experience told them it was coming, especially given the harsh conditions last weekend.

“The seas were choppy and there was a big wind shift throughout the day,” says Charlie Beardsley, a local staff officer with the Coast Guard Auxiliary for Ship Examinations and Navigation Systems. “It ended with a lot of inexperienced boaters going out without enough knowledge with them beyond the piers. And some got in trouble.

“You get all types of boats, different shapes and sizes, and all levels of experience.”

At least extending the season would reduce those anxieties and stresses, Beardsley believes.

“I think the ‘weekend warrior’ yachtsman wouldn’t say, ‘hey, we haven’t been offshore in a long time,’ and don’t look at sea heights or the weather in general, and just go because there is such a limited time for red snapper. If it lasted for a month, for example, it would probably reduce all aspects of danger and so on.

He just has to convince the Feds. Come back to us on that.

Halifax/Indian River

Starting at the south end, around Oak Hill and Edgewater, Art Mowery says the heat makes it harder, but he still finds scattered trout and reds.

“Just chase them away,” he says.

As we roam north, it looks like this week’s full moon has ignited the mangrove snapper.

“I catch them in the deeper oyster bars – 5ft and up – around Ponce Inlet using anything from shrimp to little jigs,” says Billy Pettigrew (

Further inside the lagoon, he says, the docks and bridges are also home to mangroves, while the sharks are still showing no courtesy – “looking for an easy meal”, Billy says before heading off. Add that you can also find Spanish mackerel, ladybug and blues if you slow down – drag small silver spoons or swim bait along the edge of the canals.

Captain Jeff Patterson (Charter Pole Dancer) presses the move on the mangrove snapper, some of them weighing up to 2 pounds, which is big enough for inshore fishing.

“We limited quite quickly several days,” he says.

By the way, this limit is five per day per angler.

Patterson also reports large reds in and around the entrance, as well as tarpon.

Gene Lytwyn (The Fishin’ Hole) also heard of tarpon near Ponce Inlet, while echoing the chatter of mangrove snapper and including a sheep’s head. Trout and snub around bridges and docks, he adds, if you arrive early.


Good luck finding sand fleas, which are still rare this year. If you’re unlucky, fresh shrimp are an obvious alternative, says BJ Taylor (Southern Bred Fishing), as are popular artificial ones such as FishBites and Fish Gum with shrimp.

“The main bite was some decent whiting and croaker, plus the catfish,” says BJ. “The deeper holes and cuts between sandbars hold better fish.”

Gene Lytwyn also talks about whiting and small sharks in the waves, while passing along the dockside fishing talking about mutton and plaice. Not many, but some.


Billy Pettigrew returns to report a “big plaice bite” just off the beach near shore.

“Fish for lows right next to the hard bottom or top of a hump in the 30 to 50 foot range,” he says. “Use shrimp, red mullet, and even mud minnows there.”

Further offshore, Sea Spirit customers were still returning to the docks with big deals, after a successful two-day red snapper season last weekend.

St. John’s

Summer’s Dog Days can be tough, but with the annual bake, news is finally seeing shrimp heading south into the St. Johns.

“I heard there were shrimp coming in at the north end of Lake George,” says Kerry McPherson (South Moon Fish Camp in Astor). “If that’s true, they’re probably small, which is normal for this time of year. If they stay until the end of August or September, they will grow in size.

South of DeLand in Highland Park, Captain Bryn Adams says the best bet is to get out on the main river before and around dawn (bring the bug spray!), when you can find bass that prefer wild minnows but aren’t always ready to ignore an artificial (“like the Whopper Plopper,” says Bryn).

Or you can cross the banks and under the treetops to launch minnows or crickets to find yet another mouth of war.

Also . . .

You know it’s time for the annual membership drive when the Halifax Sport Fishing Club brings out the hot dogs and beans.

Next Thursday’s Monthly Gathering (July 21, 6:30 p.m.) features free food and a membership pitch, plus shark fishing talks from Dustin Smith and his team with New Smyrna Shark Hunters — it’s interesting.

More information:

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