The recreational red snapper season in federal waters is entering its third week and reports continue to be solid. This includes the Gulf of Mexico waters off Mississippi with the July 4th Weekend approaching on the horizon.
I've been on one snapper trip – due largely to a recent run of bad weather in the area – and what a trip it was to water depths between 130 and 160 feet with Dr. Vince Pisciotta of Biloxi.
First of all, the red snapper stock is healthy, based on the fish we caught. Of course, we properly released any red snapper that were under the federal limit of 16 inches. In fact, we didn't catch many 16-inch red snapper with the majority of the fish we caught weighing more than 10-pounds.
Secondly, the stock doesn't appear to fall into the dreaded ''over fished'' status adopted by the federal government several years ago. Hopefully, when the 2013 season ends on July 14 the federal government will take a look at the landing data for this year and revisit the issue of being over fished. Perhaps extending the season by a few days in 2014 or even granting a late fall season.
Thirdly, to spend the day on the water with a group of kids was second to none. The trip featured eight or nine young anglers from across South Mississippi. In the end, each youngster caught at least their limit of two fish per person. That number often doubled as most adults on board stepped aside for the youngsters to enjoy this day.
Personally, the trip was all about the young anglers and rightfully so. But it was their ability to stand toe-to-toe and battle some fish that topped 20-pounds that stood out. Especially when you consider the fish were being caught in water depths of more than 100-feet.
One angler, Stone Ross, the son of Ocean Springs football coach Ryan Ross, caught a 15-pound red snapper in 150-feet of water. The minute the fish was put on ice, Stone Ross turned around and fought another large red snapper while the other young anglers did the same thing.
When the second red snapper was placed on ice, the young Ross looked tired and worn down when someone said, ''You need to run the bases an extra time. Gut it out. Be physically ready.''
Stone Ross could only smile.
In the end, the young anglers respected the water and the fish and developed a sense of conservation along the way. Three good and critical traits regardless of age.
When the last fish was caught, the red snapper stock in the northern Gulf of Mexico looked healthy. And the next generation of up-and-coming anglers is solid, too.
Take a kid fishing.
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