Looking like fishing guides will have more reason to take anglers on the water this month.
Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced six additional days in October to fish for red snapper. The added days are scheduled on three weekends: Oct. 12-13, Oct. 19-20 and Oct. 26-27.
Private anglers and state for-hire operations will be open.
“Florida is the fishing capital of the world thanks to our pristine natural resources and an abundance of fisheries, including red snapper,” DeSantis said. “FWC has shown that this fishery is sustainable, so we are happy to provide these additional recreational fishing days to anglers.”
Fisherman applauded the extended season.
“Gulf red snapper season is one of the most popular times for sportfishing in Florida,” said Kellie Ralston, Southeast Fisheries Policy Director of the American Sportfishing Association.
“On behalf of Keep Florida Fishing, we are thrilled that anglers provided valuable data through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s innovative Gulf Reef Fish Survey, thus allowing the Governor and the agency to make a science-based decision to extend Gulf Red Snapper Season for private recreational participants.”
The extension comes following a Gulf Reef Fish Survey that provided more data on fish populations. Anyone fishing from private recreational vehicles for red snapper in state or federal waters must sign up as a Gulf Coast Reef Angler, with the exception of those fishing in Monroe County.
The tracking of data has allowed the state greater control on setting fishing rules so long as populations remain sustainable.
“These additional days would not be possible without the Gulf Reef Fish Survey,” said FWC Chairman Robert Spottswood.“Thank you to every angler who has taken the time to return surveys, talk to staff and participate in this program.
“Innovative data collection is opening doors and allowing unprecedented management opportunities for Florida, benefitting Gulf anglers.”
The greater opportunity to fish in Gulf waters could prove especially vital to private fishing companies still recovering from a challenging 2018 season plagued by red tide blooms.
Red snapper populations had once been devastating as shrimp trawls reduced populations of juvenile snapper in Florida waters, VISIT FLORIDA reports, but numerous changes in state regulations have allowed the population to replenish. Now, the species gets listed as one of the top 10 fish to catch in Florida.
Snapper represents a $20-million-plus industry in dockside seafood hauls in the state of Florida.
Last year, then-Gov. Rick Scott estimated saltwater fishing in the Gulf of Mexico delivered a $7.6 billion economic impact to the Florida economy.