Guys red snapper fishing trip Orange Beach, AL

Red Snapper Opens for Recreational Anglers on May 22

Red snapper season in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

A great deal of pent-up demand will be likely witnessed when the 2020 red snapper season opens on May 22 for private recreational anglers. For the first time in years, the charter boat industry will have a different starting date. The charter boat snapper season opens June 1.

Red snapper fishing in Gulf Shores, AL

It’s time to batten down the hatches and make sure boats are seaworthy for the trip into the Gulf of Mexico. Red snapper are so abundant along the Alabama coast, that some anglers have success within 10 miles of the shore. However, the most productive areas for snapper anglers is in the artificial reef zones about 20 miles from the beach and beyond.

Don’t forget to stock your snapper tackle box with circle hooks that are not stainless steel or offset when using natural baits, which is used by the vast majority of anglers. For those who may not be that familiar with circle hooks, don’t try to set the hook. When you feel a good bite, just start reeling and the circle hook will slide down the fish’s throat and hook the fish in the corner of the mouth. The hook has little chance to damage the fish and makes catch and release much easier

If you’re booking one of Alabama excellent charter boats for a snapper trip this year, you won’t have to worry about fishing equipment. That is all furnished on a charter trip.

For private recreational anglers, it depends on what kind of fight you want. You can go with lighter tackle if have the experience, but the longer the fight, the better the chance of losing a big fish. However, sometimes those big fish are wary and won’t hit anything but lighter rigs. The typical snapper set-up involves heavy rods with reels capable of holding 50- to 80-pound test line. The current will determine how much lead weight you’ll need to keep your bait in the strike zone, so take a variety of weights. If you’re not sure about what to use, head to one of our bait shops on the Alabama coast, and they’ll fix you up.

Young boy with his red snapper in Orange Beach, AL

After operating under an exempted fishing permit (EFP) for the past two seasons, the Gulf Coast states have been granted regional management of the red snapper fishery. Each state gets a quota and the individual states set their own season dates, bag and size limits. Alabama’s 2020 private angler red snapper season opens the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend and is scheduled to end on Friday, July 3, 2020. For the 2020 season, the Alabama Marine Resources Division decided to allow snapper fishing on Monday to ease the overcrowding on the weekends, which means the private recreation anglers can fish Friday through Monday until the season closes.

Alabama’s charter boat industry will remain under federal regulations in 2020. The charter boat season also opens on June 1, but it is open daily through August 1.

Remember that all red snapper must be reported through the mandatory Snapper Check program. The easiest way to submit the report is with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Outdoor Alabama app, available for both iOS and Android users. The fish must be reported prior to the fish being taken off the boat or the boat hauled out of the water. Only one report is required for each vessel landing red snapper in Alabama.

Also, if you’re a private recreational angler, you’ll need the new reef fish endorsement if you plan to catch snapper and other reef fish. Charter boats will purchase the reef fish endorsements for their customers according to the size of the boat.

Alabama’s artificial reef program is unparalleled, which gives anglers fishing off Alabama access to the best red snapper fishing in the world. Don't hesitate to plan a trip to the Alabama Gulf Coast to catch and dine on a delicious red snapper, Alabama’s premier reef fish.

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David Rainer Blogger
David Rainer (2 Posts)
David Rainer has written about the great outdoors on the Alabama Gulf Coast for more than 20 years. For 14 of those years, he covered the many fishing opportunities on the Gulf Coast as outdoors…