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Gulf offshore anglers got good news last month...

as the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council passed an emergency rule to allow anglers to catch red snapper on eight consecutive weekends (Friday-Sunday) beginning Oct. 1.

The fall red snapper season in Gulf waters will allow anglers to fish each weekend (12:01 a.m. Friday to 12:01 a.m. Monday) from Oct. 1 to Nov. 22 – a total of 24 fishing days.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) agreed to reopen the recreational harvest season for red snapper in Gulf of Mexico state waters for the same eight three-day weekends this fall.

“This is just what the doctor ordered and couldn’t have come at a better time to give a much-needed boost to our Gulf fishing communities that have had a challenging summer, to say the least, because of the Gulf oil spill,” said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto.

The regular recreational harvest season for red snapper in all waters of the Gulf off Florida took place from June 1 until July 24 this year. The season was set based on projections of how many red snapper would be caught by recreational anglers without exceeding the annual harvest quota. However, because of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which resulted in fishing closures and cancelled fishing trips in federal and state waters off parts of Florida’s Gulf coast, only 1.1 million pounds of the 3.4-million-pound quota were landed when the regular red snapper season ended on July 24.

Anglers will be able to keep the current Gulf daily recreational limit of two red snapper greater than 16 inches total length per person during the fall season. Gulf Council members debated several fall-season scenarios, including opening the season for the entire month of October, but settled on the first-time pilot program of weekends-only fishing.

Although weekend landings are higher than other times, Gulf Council Chairman Bob Shipp applauded the approval of the fall season and said it will be an excellent opportunity to determine just what kind of impact weekend-only fishing will have on the total catch.