Fill the Freezer
A Part of the What's Biting Series
Don't put away those egg weights and bottom rods. Alabama anglers can still catch red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico. You just have to go into Florida state waters to do so and follow a few rules so you can bring your catch back home to Alabama. Like Alabama state waters, Florida state waters extend nine nautical miles offshore and those waters are just a short boat ride to the east from Perdido Pass.
Florida has a fall state red snapper season which is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in September and October. After Hurricane Hermine took out much of the opening weekend of the fall season, Florida also added seven days in November. The expanded open season dates will be November 5 and 6; November 11 and 12, which is Veteran's Day weekend; and November 25, 26 and 27, which is the Thanksgiving holiday.
So how can Alabama anglers take advantage of the adjacent Florida state waters, and put some red snapper in their freezers for the winter? Chris Blankenship, Director of Alabama Marine Resources says the rules are pretty simple. "Alabama residents can go into Florida waters, catch red snapper and bring them back to Alabama if they possess both an Alabama saltwater resident fishing license and a Florida non-resident saltwater fishing license."
The needing of both licenses is pretty straight forward, but there are also a few other regulations that Alabama anglers need to be aware of in order to remain compliant with the law says, Blankenship. "If you have red snapper in your boat once you come back into Alabama waters you can only be in transit with the fish."
'In transit' means that once you have caught your red snapper in Florida waters, you can not be in possession of those fish and be trying to catch other fish in Alabama waters. "Once you catch your fish in Florida, you need to head straight back to either the boat launch, condo, house or private dock," said Blankenship.
Under no circumstances are you allowed to be possession of red snapper in federal waters, which is anything beyond nine nautical miles from either the Alabama or the Florida shoreline. Even if you are not fishing, just having Red Snapper in your boat while in federal waters is against the law.
Florida had lots of public reef locations that are published by the state as a resource for those looking for places to go bottom fishing in state waters. Buying a Florida fishing license is an easy process online and compared to other states the cost is very reasonable.
Florida's fall red snapper season is a win-win for all of us anglers here on the Alabama Gulf Coast. It gives fishermen some extra days on the water and we all will need to buy bait, tackle, fuel and ice which also helps our local fishing based businesses and marinas. Just make sure you know and are following the rules as you head offshore and return.