EDITOR’S NOTE: Today, Friday, May 25, is the opening day of the recreational red snapper season in both state and federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico. The Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Jack Montoucet, authored this letter to the state’s snapper anglers as the season gets underway.

Louisiana anglers began their first day of the 2018 recreational red snapper season today under new rules: For the first time, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will be managing fishing for the prized catch in both state and federal waters.

This has been a long time coming for the LDWF and Louisiana’s avid offshore fishing community.

This long-awaited authority resulted from the approval of the LDWF’s request for an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The end result is the culmination of lots of hard work by the governor, our biologists, staff, multiple LDWF administrations, Wildlife and Fisheries Commissioners, sport fishing organizations and our congressional delegation. 

So now, the 2018 private recreational red snapper season is open and it is scheduled to run seven days a week in both state and federal waters off the Louisiana coast.  The Louisiana Recreational Creel Survey (LA Creel), the state’s recreational landings data program, will play a major role in making sure Louisiana does not exceed its approximately 743,000-pound harvest limit.

Once that limit is reached, the season must be closed under the terms of the EFP provided by the federal government.  In comparison, Louisiana anglers fished 42 days in 2017 during a joint state-federal waters season, and did not exceed our self-imposed harvest quota.

The LDWF encourages recreational anglers to participate in our data collection to make sure we have the best information available for careful management of this opportunity. Louisiana will once again make this work, just as we have shown over the last two seasons.

LA Creel harvest monitoring will be coupled with a test of electronic harvest reporting via a smartphone app and online web portal. To participate under the terms of the EFP and to participate in the electronic reporting, anglers can sign up here

While rough weather is expected along the Gulf coast this weekend, I know there are brighter days ahead for our anglers to enjoy themselves catching beautiful red snapper.

As the slogan goes, Louisiana is the “Sportsman’s Paradise.” The LDWF, in partnership with our anglers, will continue to work to make sure that moniker sticks.

Jack Montoucet

Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries