LDWF: About 700,000 pounds of red snapper remain for 2017 recreational harvest

Will extended federal season make it all the way to Labor Day?

Before this month’s extended federal season ever cranked up, Louisiana anglers had already harvested about one-third of the state’s self-imposed 2017 recreational quota of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico.

According to figures provided this week by Jason Adriance, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ finfish program manager, recreational anglers statewide had harvested a total of 335,376 pounds of red snapper through June 11 — four days before the 39-day extended Friday/Saturday/Sunday season kicked off in federal waters out to 200 miles on June 16.

That total includes an estimated 48,016 pounds harvested by recreational anglers during the original three-day federal season that took place June 1-3, with the balance coming from the state waters season that started on Feb. 1, as well as the catch by charter-for-hire captains from their 49-day season starting on June 1.

All catch estimates were compiled through LA Creel, the department’s near real-time harvest data collection program, which allows for in-season adjustments because of the quick turnaround on numbers compiled by biologists at docks across the coast and via weekly follow-up phone and email surveys.

This year, Adriance said Louisiana’s catch target, which is 14 percent of the overall Gulf-wide take, is about 1.04 million pounds, leaving roughly 704,600 pounds of snapper available for the state’s recreational anglers to harvest — not including what was just taken during the opening three-day weekend June 16-18.

Adriance said catch estimates from last Friday, Saturday and Sunday probably won’t be available until at least next week while biologists crunch the numbers and complete surveys to compute angler effort in conjunction with the dockside checks.

In an email, he said the department is still compiling data to determine if the extended season could last the full 39 days and make it all the way to its proposed ending date, which is Labor Day.

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