11 Best Red Snapper Fishing Spots in the Gulf

Oct 11, 2023 | 11 minute read
Reading Time: 11 minutes

The Gulf of Mexico is the favorite playground of avid anglers from all over the world. This is the place to be if you’re chasing just about any saltwater game fish under the sun. And out of all the species you can reel in, none is more iconic than the Red Snapper.

A fisherman in a cap and sunglasses, sitting on a boat, holding a big Red Snapper, with the sunset in the background

What makes this fish so special? For some, it’s their sheer beauty, for others it’s the fighting prowess and delicious fillets that come as a reward. For most, it’s all three, as well as the fact that in most parts of the Gulf, there’s only a limited period of time when you’re allowed to target them. No wonder Red Snapper are among the most sought-after saltwater species in the nation. 

With the season opener just around the corner, it’s time to pack your gear and get ready for some wild fishing action. Here are some of the best Red Snapper fishing spots in the Gulf states for you to head out from and enjoy the season to the max.

Best Red Snapper Fishing Spots in the Gulf

So where should you go to make the most out of this year’s season opener? If you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry, we’ve got your back! Here’s a list of the top Red Snapper fishing spots in the nation to help you decide. 

Tampa, Florida

Anglers often connect Tampa with world-class Tarpon fishing, and they’re not wrong. But, there’s so much more to catch here, and Red Snapper is among the most coveted deepwater species. Snappers in general are a very popular catch in the Tampa Bay area, so you can catch several different varieties in one go.

The Tampa skyline after sunset, as seen from the water, with scattered clouds in the sky

Home of the world’s longest continuous sidewalk, Tampa is the epicenter of fishing activity in the summer. Game fish chasers from all over the country gather here and you better believe that Red Snapper is on the menu. You can spend some time in the bay going after school-sized fish, or head further out for more of a challenge. Deep sea fishers have caught Reds upwards of 30 pounds, so the trip will definitely be worth it. Just remember to stay safe from a surprise thunderstorm, as the area is quite notorious for them. 

There’s no shortage of things to do in Tampa when you’re not fishing. Whether it’s a day at the beautiful Busch Gardens, a walk down the city center (or ride in a streetcar), or a visit to the Florida Aquarium, Tampa will wow you with its beauty and diversity.

Cedar Key, Florida

Now, we’re taking you up the coast, to wonderful Cedar Key. When you want to take a step back from the modern world and all its pressures, this quaint town will give you the chance to do just that. Add to that the fact that fishing is on point here, and you’ve got a winning combo.

A view from a hill of a boat sailing across the waters of Cedar Key with greenery in the foreground and Gulf of Mexico in the background

With all the riches of the Gulf just a stone’s throw away, it’s surprising that Cedar Key isn’t in the spotlight more often. Still, this is good news for you, because there’s plenty of Red Snapper to catch, and not as much competition. There’s a good number of fishing charters that specialize in deep sea fishing and that can take you to the strong Snapper bite. Then you can take your catch to one of the mom-and-pop restaurants, have it cooked, and eat while reveling in the sunset.

Cedar Key is not a luxurious resort island, so there’s no pressure to live or behave a certain way. You come here to get a taste of the days long gone when life was simpler. You can kayak to the Atsena Otie Key (a local ghost town), explore the beaches, and fish fish fish, as much as you’d like.

Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Another gem of the Emerald Coast, Fort Walton Beach is a great place for a family vacation with a side of fabulous Red Snapper fishing. You may come here for the beautiful beaches and easy-going atmosphere, but you’ll stay for the fishing action.

An aerial view of Fort Walton Beach in Florida, with the Gulf of Mexico on the left of the image, and a strip of land including a beach and buildings separating the sea from the bay

The underdog on our list of best Red Snapper fishing spots, Fort Walton Beach has all the appeal of a prime angling location, but minus all the bustle. Come in summer, and you’ll enjoy the best weather Florida has to offer and the bite isn’t far behind either. You can target Red Snapper just about anywhere, be it in bluewater or even from the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier. Naturally, close-to-land fish are smaller, but you can still get a few without even leaving the shore.

Fort Walton Beach has something for everyone, so when you’re not holding a rod, there are plenty of things to do. The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is a must-see if you’re coming with your kids. Take a stroll down the boardwalk or in one of the parks, make the most of the many beaches available, and leave your busy everyday life behind.

Pensacola, Florida

There’s no talking about legendary angling action without mentioning the “Western Gate to the Sunshine State” as one of the best Red Snapper fishing spots. Pensacola is famous for being the cradle of naval aviation, for having one of the most beautiful white-sand beaches in the world, and of course, for fantastic Red Snapper action.

An aerial view of Pensacola's inshore waterways, with a boat on making its way out towards the inlet from the bay

Florida is one of the best states to catch yourself a couple of these beauties, and Pensacola tops the bill. The main reason is the large number of artificial reefs that attract all kinds of bottom dwellers. Red Snapper is the most prominent catch on offshore bottom fishing charters, where you can easily hook into a twenty-pounder. 

If you don’t feel like traveling far, you don’t have to! The beauty of this fishery is that the waters get deep very quickly, so you can get a Snapper even in Pensacola Bay. They’ll probably be smaller than their deep-sea counterparts, but delicious nonetheless.

The thing with Pensacola is that it doesn’t just have excellent fishing, but it’s a top-rate tourist destination as well. Work on your tan on the beach with a Bushwacker in your hand, or take a walk along the Palafox Street and Seville Quarter. History buffs can enjoy Fort Pickens and the National Naval Aviation Museum. And outdoor enthusiasts will love the Perdido Key and Big Lagoon State Park, among much more.

Dauphin Island, Alabama

Maybe you’d like to avoid the crowds that are inevitable in Florida in summer and go somewhere new and different. If that’s the case, then Dauphin Island in Alabama is the place to be. The Red Snapper bite is strong and boat fishing, in general, is excellent.

An aerial view of Dauphin Island, Alabama, with a circular marina in the foreground and a view of the barrier islands and jetties, blocking the Gulf of Mexico in the distance

Come late May, the waters around Dauphin Island become the playground of passionate anglers and Red Snapper alike. The key is structure – there are countless reefs, oil platforms, and ledges here to explore.

You can stay closer to shore and focus on smaller fish, or go out into the bluewater, where you’ll do deep dropping for trophy-sized specimens. It’s entirely up to you. Fishing is so good around Dauphin Island that there are even some charters that have a “no catch, no pay” guarantee!

This barrier island isn’t just a paradise for anglers. People come here to take a break from the busy city life and enjoy birdwatching. When you’re not soaking in the sunshine, take a trip to Fort Morgan or visit the Audubon Bird Sanctuary.

Biloxi, Mississippi

Mississippi might not have a coastline as long as Florida or Texas, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find the Red Snapper bite here. And on our list of best spots for Snapper fishing, Biloxi, MS definitely deserves its place.

A view from the beach of the city of Biloxi, Mississippi at sunset, with the ocean on the right-hand side of the image

What makes fishing in Biloxi special is the wide array of inshore artificial reefs. These are specifically made to ensure the best possible action for Snapper and their other bottom-dwelling relatives. You won’t find a better place in Mississippi to come face-to-gills with big Reds. To make the most of the experience, we recommend booking a full day trip. More time on the water allows you to cover more ground and maybe even land a trophy.

When you’re done with fishing for the day, give Biloxi a chance to entertain you. Spend a day on Ship Island, which will make you feel like you’re in a far-off exotic land. Or check out some of the museums and relish the delectable seafood for which this city is known.

Venice, Louisiana

When a state holds the world record for the biggest Red Snapper in the world, you know that the fishing will be off the charts. We’re talking about Louisiana of course – or, more specifically, Venice. There’s a lot of awesome fish to catch in this part of the Gulf, but Red Snapper is unmissable. 

An aerial view of Venice, Louisiana, with several marinas visible along the shallow waters, and brown-green grass dotting the landscape

Oil rigs and vast underwater structures are close to shore, and they act as a gathering spot for large Red Snapper. Venice boasts quick and easy access to these, so you can get just about any bottom feeder you can think of. During the summer months, guides offer family-oriented trips, so you don’t have to be an experienced fisherman to make the most of this fishery. And it’s not uncommon to get your limit of Snapper only a couple of hours into the trip.

You’ll find Venice at the end of the Great River Road, where locals live and breathe fishing. This is the home of big state fishing rodeos, so you better believe there’s a lot to do. Any water-related activity is a-go-go, be it kayaking, scuba diving, or duck hunting.

Grand Isle, Louisiana

Another barrier island has made our list, and this one is in Louisiana’s rich waters. Grand Isle is a dream come true for lovers of the great outdoors who also love to fish. The oil rigs in the deep waters and even inshore mangroves attract good numbers of Red Snapper every summer. 

An aerial view of Grand Isle, Louisiana, with numerous fishing piers sticking out into the bay's waters on one side and the Gulf of Mexico visible in the distance

There are many popular fishing grounds around Grand Isle, but if you’re going after Snapper, rigs are your jam. The most productive spots are probably around the West Delta 30 blocks, where Reds congregate to feed. And you don’t have to go far to reach them – only about 3 miles from land. The water isn’t too deep (around 60 feet) but the bite can be very hot. You can also try your luck around mangroves for the chance to catch smaller Red Snapper.

If you like to camp, hike around the Grand Isle State Park and find a spot. And if you’re fond of water sports, you’ll love it all. The truth is, you can make your time here as active or laid back as you’d like. You’re in a stunning location, so make the most of it!

Galveston, Texas

There’s no talk of best Red Snapper fishing spots without including Texas – or, to be more precise, Galveston. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better locale for your Snapper endeavors. Only an hour away from Texas’s biggest city, Galveston offers the ease of access and impressive numbers of your favorite fish.

A view of a silhouette of fishing pier in Galveston at sunset, with a ferris wheel and rollercoaster rides visible

You can catch Red Snapper all year in Texas, but their high season is during the hottest days of summer. The best time to visit Galveston is in June and July, but it’s important to book your charters well in advance. Half day trips will take you up to 20 miles offshore, which is enough to get yourself something good. Full day trips can go 50 or more miles out in search of bragworthy fish. Whichever you choose, you won’t go wrong – it all depends on your preferences.

Galveston is a fun place to visit even when you’re not battling great Snapper. The Strand, ​​Schlitterbahn, Bishop’s Palace, and Moody Gardens are just a few places that you must visit on your Galveston adventure.

Freeport, Texas

It would be amiss to talk about the best Snapper fishing spots without giving a shoutout to Freeport. Its productive waters make this city a fishing hub in the Lone Star State. If you’re after big fish that will blow your mind with their fighting abilities, this is the destination for you.

A view of the Gulf of Mexico from an empty beach in Freeport, Texas, on a sunny day

There’s a lot of structure to explore around Freeport’s shores, but one spot you can’t miss is George Vancouver Liberty Ship Reef. Because of its size and abundant biodiversity, there’s Red Snapper around the reef throughout the year. Around here, the water is over 50′ deep, so there are a lot of school fish, and big ones are not uncommon. Of course, this is just one of the many fishing spots to explore in Freeport, but it’s famous for good reason.

If you’re a fan of a laid-back slow-paced vacation, then you’ll love the many beaches Freeport has. If you’re more of an outdoorsy type, this is one of the camping areas in the state. And for a change of pace, you can try some crabbing from the pier at Stahlman Park.

Port Mansfield, Texas

Close to the Mexican border and in the neighborhood of the near-legendary South Padre Island, Port Mansfield deserves the attention of every Red Snapper chaser. Come here when you’re in the mood for reel-screaming action minus all the fishing pressure. And who doesn’t always want that?

A view looking out from a small fishing pier in Port Mansfield, Texas, with the bay's waters visible and a number of buildings on the opposite shoreline

The first thing you’ll notice when you hit the waters around this fishing village is the lack of hubbub – at least on the surface. There’s still more than enough Snapper for anyone willing to cast a line here. What makes fishing here unique is that you’ll be fishing “over the rocks,” aka corals. A lot of fish gather here in search of food, and a lot of them are good-sized Snappers. The water gets very deep very quickly, so your prey is only a short boat ride away. Aside from boasting excellent summer action, the village is also known for its winter fishing opportunities.

Rettilon Beach is the heart of Port Mansfield and a great place to spend a few days just enjoying life. The Port Mansfield Nature Park offers fun for the whole family, and renting a kayak will take you to some of the most stunning views the Laguna Madre has to offer.

When does the Red Snapper season start?

Now let’s talk about dates. The Red Snapper season opener differs from state to state, so it’s important to know when you can start your fishing adventure.

In Florida, the Snapper season usually starts at the beginning of June and lasts through July. The exact dates haven’t been set yet, but there are usually about 60 days when you’re allowed to go out and get your limit of two fish per person.

If you’re going to Alabama, the season will be open on May 27th. Recreational fishing for Red Snapper will be allowed every Friday–Monday until the set quota (yet to be announced) is met. 

Mississippi will have its Red Snapper season opener on May 27th as well. The main difference is that in the Hospitality State, you’re allowed to fish all week and the season ends on July 4th.

The Red Snapper season starts in Louisiana on May 27th, too, but the season will be open only on weekends (Friday–Sunday). The daily limit will be three fish per person and the season will last until the yearly quota of caught fish is met.

Finally, if you want to start fishing right now, head to Texas. Here, Red Snapper fishing in state waters is open year-round.

Best Red Snapper Fishing Spots in the Gulf – There Are Many More!

An angler in sunglasses and a cap holding a Red Snapper, with fishing docks and a large sportfishing vessel in the background

There’s no doubt that Red Snapper is among the most beloved fish in the Gulf of Mexico. Since their open season is so limited, let’s get ready for the most exciting fishing time of the year. The Red Snapper opener is upon us! Pick a spot from our list, book a charter, and let the angling escapades begin!

Have you ever tried fishing in one of the destinations on the list? What are your experiences? Is there a tip you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below.

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Andriana has been in love with nature since before she could walk, and she lives to explore the great outdoors whenever she has the chance. Be it traveling to far-off lands, hiking, or mountain climbing, Andriana loves discovering new places and writing about them. The first time she went fishing with her dad she insisted on returning all the catch into the water. Dad was not pleased. Her curiosity about fishing only grew from there, and she’s been writing and learning about it for years. Andriana’s favorite fish to catch is Mahi Mahi.

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