Categories: Saltwater

Summer is Red Snapper Time Along the Texas Coast

A few years back, Joey Beaver, of Victoria, bagged a 40-inch, 38.75 lb. red snapper about five miles off the coast of Port O’Connor in the Gulf of Mexico.

Texas recreational anglers who fish from private vessels may target red snapper 365 days a year in state waters which extend nine nautical miles offshore. The daily snapper limit for Texas is four fish that measure at least 15 inches long.

Beaver’s catch beat two state records for red snapper, including the State Rod and Reel Record and the Water Body Record, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The previous record was held by Jack Brumby, who in 1998 caught a 38.13 pound red snapper.

Beaver’s record red snapper was caught on squid fished on the bottom.

Anglers who fish in federal waters (10 plus miles) for snapper have until to July 16 to catch red snapper, but only if you’re fishing from a charter or party boat. Reports coming from Port Aransas say the snapper fishing has been good.

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) is the primary law governing marine fisheries management in U.S. federal waters, including red snapper. The Act strives to maintain sustainable fish levels by balancing harvest versus productivity.

Many folks believe an overfished red snapper population has reached or exceeded rebuilt status, while NOAA scientists disagree, saying the stock is nowhere near, but closing in on its historic abundance.

An overfished fish species is considered rebuilt when the population reaches a level that allows fish to be harvested continuously in federal waters while the numbers maintain a sustainable level. Optimum sustainability is reached when we remove about as many fish as the population can replace.

Federal fishery managers say the red snapper population has rebounded to about 63 percent of its ideal spawning population. According to these figures and calculations the spawning population should reach its optimum level by or before 2032.

The management of red snapper continues to be challenging and controversial. Texas and the other four Gulf states, cooperating with National Marine Fisheries Service NMFS, report red snapper catches to NMFS, as well to their own state fishery management. Reporting red snapper catches from both State and Federal waters helps NMFS and TPWD monitor health and population of the snapper fishery.

To make it easy to report catches, TPWD has an app: (http://sportfishcenter.org/participate/citizen-science/iSnapper). At the end of each day, or soon afterwards, use the app to report the catch. If it’s several anglers fishing, only one angler needs to report the collective catch. Anglers fishing from Party Boats are exempt from reporting their catch; the captain will report the catch.

Tom Behrens:
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