Guys red snapper fishing trip Orange Beach, AL

Red Snapper Season for Private Anglers Opens May 28; Charter Boats on June 1

Alabama’s 2021 red snapper season for private recreational anglers will have a twist for the 2021 season. 

The season opens on May 28 with four-day weekends like last year’s season, but the closing date has not been announced. The Alabama Marine Resources Division will determine the end of the season with catch data compiled through the Red Snapper Reporting System, better known as Snapper Check. 

Red snapper fishing in Gulf Shores, AL

Private Anglers

Private recreational anglers include everyone who fishes from their own recreational boats or with friends or state-licensed Alabama commercial party boats that do not hold federal for-hire fishing permits. These anglers are under state management of red snapper. For private recreational anglers, weekends are defined as 12:01 a.m. Friday through 11:59 p.m. Monday. The daily bag limit remains at two red snappers per person per day with a minimum size limit of 16 inches total length. The 2021 Alabama private angler quota is expected to be similar to the 2020 quota of 1,122,662 pounds.

Public Charter Fishing

For those who prefer to book one of Alabama’s professional charter boats and leave all the details to those experienced captains, Alabama’s charter (for-hire) boats with federal reef fish permits continue to operate under federal guidelines, which set a 63-day season for 2021 beginning June 1, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. local time through August 3, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. local time. The charters stay pretty booked up for red snapper season, so it’s best to get online and book your fishing charter to find the best boat for your party.

Many may have seen the stories about the Great Red Snapper Count that indicated the Gulf of Mexico has three times more red snapper than previously thought. However, it will take some time before the Great Red Snapper Count can be incorporated into the management system, which means the quotas will likely stay near the same for the next two years. 

Young boy with his red snapper in Orange Beach, AL

Preparation for Snapper Season

To fish in the Gulf or other Alabama coastal waters, anglers over the age of 16 must have a valid Alabama saltwater fishing license. Any Alabama resident 65 or older or a lifetime saltwater license holder must have a current saltwater angler registration. The saltwater angler registration is free!

Also, all anglers 16 years of age and older who possess red snapper or other gulf reef fish are required to have an Alabama Gulf Reef Fish Endorsement, so ensure you acquire this before your excursion! 

And don’t forget about Snapper Check. Marine Resources will update catch totals weekly. Private boats landing red snapper in Alabama are required by law to complete one landing report per vessel trip of their harvested red snapper through Snapper Check before the fish are removed from the boat or the boat with the fish is removed from the water. Reporting of greater amberjack and gray triggerfish also became mandatory this year. Owners/operators of federally permitted charter vessels are also required to possess an Alabama Gulf Reef Fish Endorsement and submit an Alabama Snapper Check landing report prior to red snapper, gray triggerfish or greater amberjack being landed in Alabama.

The Outdoor AL app is the easiest way to comply with Snapper Check. You can get the app from Apple and Android stores or online at Paper reports and drop boxes are no longer available.

To illustrate how many red snapper live off the Alabama coast, our state has only three percent of the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico, but 26 percent of red snapper from the Gulf are allocated to Alabama anglers. Alabama’s vast artificial reef program, which encompasses about 1,060 miles of offshore waters in 14 permit areas, is what makes everybody want to come to Alabama to fish for red snapper.

Don’t hesitate! Plan your trip to the Alabama Gulf Coast during red snapper season to fish on your own boat or book one of the many charter boats that call Alabama home.

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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…