27-day weekend-only recreational red snapper season in the works

If approved, Saturday/Sunday season would kick off June 17, end on Labor Day, Sept. 4

Forget that tired old tie and pair of socks: Get your dad a nice red snapper rig this Father’s Day — because it looks like he might be able to use it all summer long this year in federal waters.

In the wake of what was a ludicrous 3-day federal season in the Gulf that wound up being plagued by rough weather earlier this month, LouisianaSportsman.com has learned federal and state officials are hammering out details on a Saturday/Sunday-only recreational season that would kick off on Father’s Day Weekend and stretch for 27 days — all the way through Labor Day on Monday, Sept. 4.

Congressman Garret Graves (R-Baton Rouge) wouldn’t confirm that a 27-day plan is up final for consideration by the Gulf states in a phone interview Wednesday morning, but did say he’s been encouraged by several discussions that started back in March with the new Secretary of Commerce under President Donald Trump’s administration, Wilbur Ross.

“We’ve been very frustrated and have been working on a solution for the management of the red snapper fishery now for a couple of years. We ran into some strong opposition from the Obama administration folks, but now we have a new administration,” Graves said. “We wanted to take advantage of that and make sure we got in early and talked to them about these problems, and that’s why I got together with Sec. Ross and discussed it with him.

“We brought in a number of other members and had subsequent meetings with the Department of Commerce and ultimately brought in some of the state fisheries managers to discuss options.”

According to an unnamed source, details of the finalized plan are similar to one of the options reported by LouisianaSportsman.com in an article on Monday.

The recreational season out to 200 miles would begin again on Saturday, June 17 and stretch through Labor Day, Sept. 4. Fishing would take place on Saturdays and Sundays only — no snapper fishing in federal or state waters would be allowed Monday through Friday. Snapper fishing also would be allowed on the Monday and Tuesday of the extended July 4 holiday weekend and on the Monday of Labor Day, bringing the season total up to 27 days, according to the source.

Under the 27-day plan, the fall snapper season in state waters out to 9 miles would remain a possibility.

Graves mentioned Wednesday he ventured out on the final day of the original three-day snapper season on June 3.

“It took us two hours to motor out, and we limited out in 35 minutes,” he said. “There is a healthy stock that’s out there without question. This is a failed management issue … And it’s a major fairness issue. You cannot take a public asset, a public resource, and treat it this way.”

The five Gulf states are in the process of gathering public input and deciding on whether to accept the 27-day plan, the source said.

Louisiana’s Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meets tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. in Baton Rouge. Item No. 15 on their agenda reads: “To discuss possible federal action to address historically short federal waters red snapper season.”

About Patrick Bonin 1315 Articles
Patrick Bonin is the former editor of Louisiana Sportsman magazine and LouisianaSportsman.com.