PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is reopening federal waters to for-hire fishermen from October 15 until November 6.
The season only applies to federal waters, which extend from nine to 200 miles off of Florida’s coast.
NOAA officials determined fishermen did not catch the annual quota of Red snapper during the regular 63-day season this summer.
They created this second season to give them a chance to catch the remaining 670,000 pounds left in this year’s quota.
For-hire fishing operations said this should be good for their businesses and bring a lot more visitors to the area.
Bob Zales II owns and captains the “Leo Too,” and he said he is glad to get more time to fish for Red snapper because it boosts local business.
“When Red snapper comes in, the two months of Red snapper I mean it’s every day,” Zales said. “The only thing that stops us for Red snapper season is adverse weather or a breakdown… Other than that, you are fishing for 60 days solid.”
Federal and state agencies began limiting Red snapper catches years ago, due to overfishing.
Because of the limits, Zales said it’s made Red snapper that much more coveted.
“The government pretty much made the allure of the fish. I mean they’ve turned Red snapper into a gold standard because of the way that they managed to where you have one or two days to fish and then you have three months to fish or two months to fish,” Zales said. “The public thinks, ‘Okay, Red snapper must be a really good fish if they are closing it up,’ so they’ll rush down a mad rush to catch the fish in two months, so this kind of spreads it out a bit.”
Pam Anderson is the operations manager of Captain Anderson’s Marina, and she agreed with Zales.
“It has become the most popular fish here to fish for… You go to different areas of the country and of the world and you go fishing for a certain species of fish,” Anderson said. “Here, they come for Red snapper, and they are usually quite pleased with what they get.”
Because of its popularity, spots fill up fast for chartered Red snapper fishing, so be sure to make a reservation soon if you want the chance to catch Red snapper.