BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The recreational red snapper season is set to open Saturday in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Whether we agree with the short season that ends on July 14 or not, anglers must abide by the laws that have been adopted by the federal government. Those laws also include a two-fish per person limit with a 16-inch minimum overall length.
The short season and the total number of red snapper is a concern of many recreational anglers that I've spoken with in recent weeks. However, another concern is the 44-day season is set to open on the same day that recreational amberjack fishing closes.
The amberjack closing will have a bigger impact on the recreational anglers of Mississippi. Why? In states like Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida, anglers travel shorter distances to fish for red snapper. In Louisiana and Alabama for instance, red snapper can be caught in state waters where the water is deeper. That translates into less gas burned.
In Mississippi, with the barrier islands, catching a red snapper in state waters is rare due to the shallow water of the Mississippi Sound. That means higher fuel bills for catching two red snapper per person - and no amberjack.
Before the federal government began closing down the amberjack fishery, it was worthwhile for anglers to venture out of Mississippi with a chance to harvest both species. That's not the case anymore.
Despite the rules, the excitement level at the Biloxi Boardwalk Marina remains high.
"I think a lot of boats around here are ready," said Chris Denton, who runs the live bait shop inside the marina. "It's not good that the red snapper season opens on the same day that amberjack closes. That's a lot of fuel being burned for two-fish per person and most people do not like that. But there's not much we can do about it either. I look for boats to head out this weekend and catch some really nice red snapper. Anglers may not like it [laws] but I think most are ready to fish.''
Another change deals with the charter industry where captains and deckhands can no longer keep two-fish each. If a charter boat has a fishing crew of five plus a captain and two deckhands for a total of eight, the boat can only keep 10-fish. The captain and deckhands can not posses any fish under new guidelines.
In comparison, a fishing crew of eight on a recreational vessel can keep a total of 16-fish.
In terms of nearshore fishing, reports remain solid for speckled trout around the Katrina Reef in Biloxi on live shrimp. Reports are also strong for trout and redfish on the grass beds on the inside of Ship Island.
Also keep an eye on any floating debris, channel marker and crap pots in the Mississippi Sound for tripletail. These fish, also known as blackfish, will remain in the Mississippi Sound through the summer months and offer and excellent table fare.
Buckle up and take a kid fishing.