Mississippi’s coastal anglers will have additional red snapper opportunities this fall, according to a special season announced Friday by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources.
Beginning Oct. 3 and ending on Nov. 2, the state’s territorial waters will be open to red snapper from 12:01 a.m. on Fridays through 11:59 p.m. on Sundays, but it comes with a caveat.
Though the Mississippi Legislature has approved extending state waters to nine miles for fisheries management, the federal government does not recognize this distance. Anyone possessing red snapper farther than three miles south of the barrier islands could receive citations from federal or state law enforcement officers.
Fishing between three and nine miles in Mississippi waters is at the angler’s own risk, and some seem willing to try.
“We have a couple of places I think I can catch some (red) snapper in the fall, especially in the latter half of October, that are in that disputed zone, and we will, weather permitting, take a shot,” said one angler, who asked that his name be withheld. “I’d just as soon not have my name out there where we’re put in a position that someone could be watching us, waiting. I’m not saying it would happen, but I’m not saying that it wouldn’t, either.
“Back when we had this opportunity in the summer, we tried these spots and they had a few fish, and with two the limit, we got what we needed. I think in cooler water, more fish will move up.”
The fall season is the second season that the Department of Marine Resources has opened this year that are considered non-compliant to the federal season. The 2014 federal season limited recreational fishermen to just nine days.
“After careful review and consideration of the available data from the federal and state red snapper seasons, we have determined a fall season will have minimal impact on the resource and will benefit our local recreational anglers by providing them the opportunity for additional harvest,” said Jamie Miller, MDMR Executive Director. “We ask that the anglers continue to participate in our voluntary reporting program so that we can continue to monitor the harvest and effort levels.”
The bag limit will be two red snapper per person with a minimum size of 16 inches.
MDMR officials are asking fishermen to participate in the agency’s voluntary red snapper reporting program during the October season. Officials say that this data can aid in monitoring the catch and lead to future snapper management.
Fishermen can report their trip data on the agency’s website, dmr.ms.gov, or fill out an information card available at local bait shops and on the MDMR website. Those with iPhones can download a red snapper app on iTunes.