Panhandle fishermen prepare for lengthened red snapper season

Local Sports

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) – Fishermen all across the Gulf Coast are preparing for one of the panhandles favorite times of year with the upcoming red snapper season.

The season for red snapper will open for federally licensed and for-hire charters on June 1, and recreationally on June 4.

As the open is less than a week out, locals who work in the fishing industry, like Anderson’s Seafood Market Operator Mel Miller, say that this is one of the best parts of living in Florida.

“It’s just like a light switch, you know, snapper season comes in you know you got boats everywhere and when the season goes out the switch goes down, there’s plenty of fish still to catch, after and before, but people have their focus, their emphasis on the red snapper,” Miller said.

It’s not just the professionals who get involved, as local fisher and captain of the Hook ‘Em Up charter boat, BJ Burkett, says thousands of private boats hit the water everyday the season is open.

“It’s really exciting, because its’s a type of fish where it’s good for families, it’s not a real difficult fishery to be in, it doesn’t take a whole lot of skill to land a snapper, so the kids can be highly involved in it. It just brings everybody out on the water for a day and you can enjoy it,” Burkett said.

Each year the state regulates a start and end date, and this this season is just a couple days away.

“We start here June 1, through Aug. 2, with the federally permitted boats,” Miller said. “And the recreational season opens the 4th which is next Friday.”

In recent years, snapper season has continued to get longer, and it’s nearly two months this year, but it hasn’t always been that way.

“Years ago, snapper season was a lot longer, then the regulation shortened it, and it got really really short, and now we’re finally starting to see the season get a little longer each year and that’s really helping out our businesses where we don’t have to go as hard everyday. But, we just try to fish as much as we can so that we can make a living and feed our families,” Burkett said.

Some people fish for the sport, some fish for the great meal, and others just enjoy snapper fishing for the journey.

“A lot of memories you know, you can come back and get you a photograph of your fish and you can look at that later on and, man you remember that time when we were there and caught those fish, it’s memories,” Miller said.

Snapper season will be opened recreationally just under two months this year from June 4 to July 28, and each licensed fisher is allowed to keep two fish over 16 inches per day.

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