Outdoors

Red snapper season opens in Mississippi on Friday. Here's what you need to know.

The red snapper season for charter boats in waters off the Mississippi Coast opens June 1. The season opens May 25 for recreational fishermen.
The red snapper season for charter boats in waters off the Mississippi Coast opens June 1. The season opens May 25 for recreational fishermen. Sun Herald File

Mississippi’s red snapper season will open for private recreational anglers and state for-hire vessels on Friday in state and federal waters.

Recreational fishermen can fish for red snapper out to 200 nautical miles starting May 25.

Charter boat owners have a few weeks to get ready to carry anglers into federal waters for red snapper catches beyond the Mississippi Coast. Charter boats with federal permits can start booking their boats for a 51-day season that starts June 1, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources announced Friday.

Boats with for-hire permits can fish only in state waters, which go out nine nautical miles, until June 1, MDMR spokeswoman Melissa Scallan said.

Red snapper season in Mississippi this year begins at 12:01 a.m. May 25 and runs until 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 3, which is Labor Day.

The season will close early if either group reaches its quota, Scallan said. The season also could close early if the quota for the five Gulf states is reached early. That quota is 6.7 million pounds.

The quota for charter boat catches is 2,800 pounds. For recreational anglers, the quota is 135,149 pounds.

Mississippi's season could close for a couple of weeks from July 9-22 to make sure a quota won't be met before July 4, Scallan said.

MDMR monitors the catches and quotas in Mississippi through a mandatory reporting program known as Tails N'Scales. Anyone who fishes for red snapper is required to register with the program. Anglers receive a trip number and must report their catch within 24 hours.

You can't receive a new trip number if you haven't reported the catch from your last trip, Scallan said.

To register, you can download the app to your smartphone, access the website, tailsnscales.org, or call 1-844-MSSNAPP (677-6277) if you don't have a smartphone or computer.

For questions about Tails N'Scales, call 228-697-6762.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has issued permits to let the five Gulf state set their own red snapper seasons.

Alabama's 47-day season starts June 1.

The start date in Louisiana is undetermined. The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission is expected to decide at its May 3 meeting, its website shows.

Florida's start date is June 1 for recreational fishermen and June 11 for charter boats, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Florida's pleasure anglers will have a 40-day season.

The start date in Texas is June 1, giving recreational fishermen an 82-day season, Texas Parks and Wildlife says on its website.

Federal law requires fishery managers to prevent overfishing.

Red snapper in the Gulf had been overfished until quotas and seasons were set starting in 2009, oceanconservancy,org says.

A red snapper can grow up to 50 pounds and 40 inches, and can live more than 50 years.

An 8-year-old female red snapper can produce as many fish as 212 females that are 5 years old, the website says.

Robin Fitzgerald, 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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