How to Fish for Red Snapper in Florida: The Complete Guide for 2024

Jan 11, 2024 | 8 minute read
Reading Time: 8 minutes

What happens when you combine the “Sunshine State” and one of the most sought-after fish species in the US? Blazing hot angling! Lame jokes aside, Red Snapper fishing in Florida is truly the event of the year. Anglers from all over the world flock down to Florida to try their luck at landing these brightly colored trophy catches. 

And no, we aren’t exaggerating. With so much talk and anticipation surrounding the Red Snapper season, we wouldn’t be surprised if it were declared a national holiday! So, if you’re up for a Red Snapper pursuit, have no dilemma – Florida is the place to be. 

A photo of a girl smiling and holding a Snapper in each hand while standing on a charter boat in the middle of the ocean

With this article, we’ll try to paint a picture of what Red Snapper fishing in Florida looks like. We’ll examine the best places to go after these beauties and talk about how to land them. We’ll cover the latest rules and regulations and give you some tips on how to approach the upcoming season. So without further ado, let’s join the Red Snapper fishing frenzy together.

Why Red Snapper?

If you’re wondering what Red Snappers have that makes people go frantic, the answer is everything. Apart from the exceptional market value, Red Snappers are considered to be admirable rivals. Their fighting abilities and game fish qualities make them desirable opponents. But Red Snappers didn’t gain their popularity just by being worthy opponents… 

A group of anglers showing off their catches on the dock after a Red Snapper fishing trip in Florida

Red Snapper is arguably one of the most delicious catches in Florida. And a tasty dinner is precisely the reward you deserve after a long day of overpowering them. As if that’s not enough, Red Snappers are ranked high on the fine-looking fish list. So, not only will you have brag-worthy stories and mouth-watering bites, but you’ll also have an insanely photogenic trophy to show off, too.

Long story short, the demand for these gorgeous beings is ever-growing, and for good reason. However, as always happens, there has to be a catch. In this case, it’s seasonality.

When is Red Snapper season in Florida?

Being on every fisherman’s radar comes with a price. Over the years, Red Snapper numbers have declined. To curb overfishing, the authorities introduced several management measures, a strict season being one of them. Red Snapper season in Florida changes annually and differs depending on whether you want to wet your line in the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic.

Red Snapper season in the Gulf of Mexico usually lasts around 60 days and begins in June. State waters in the Atlantic are open year-round. However, these waters aren’t abundant in Red Snappers as much as federal waters are. Unfortunately, the Red Snapper harvest in Atlantic federal waters is open only for 2 or 3 days in July.

Three anglers standing on a Florida fishing charter and holding Red Snapper each with a built-up city behind them

While the season is short, the good news is that it traditionally reopens for a couple of weekends in October, and again in November for Thanksgiving and Veterans Day. But this may be subject to change as well if the quota is reached earlier.

Bear in mind that you’ll only find out the exact dates several weeks before the season starts. So, if you’ve set your mind on catching Red Snapper, keep a close eye on the official Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website or our annual blog.

How to Fish for Red Snapper in Florida

Before you retell the epic story of how you’ve come out victorious from your Red Snapper hunt, it might be good to prepare for the harvest first. This means understanding their whereabouts, eating habits, and picking your angling approach. If you’re fishing with a licensed charter operator, you don’t have to worry about this as your captain will be there to guide you. If you’re curious nonetheless, read on and find out how to fish for Red Snapper.

Habitat

A photo of a father and his son sitting on an ice box on a charter boat and both holding a Red Snapper in each hand

While you can find Red Snappers anywhere in depths from 30 to 600 feet, they essentially gather around various nearshore and offshore structures – reefs and wrecks being their favorites. And you’ll almost always locate them on the ocean floor as Red Snappers are bottom dwellers. Adult fish prefer rocky seafloors, while juveniles tend to patrol above sandy and muddy seabeds. 

They inhabit both state and federal waters. State waters in the Gulf stretch up to 9 nautical miles, whereas the border between state and federal waters in the Atlantic starts at 3 nautical miles. But how does this reflect on Red Snappers? Well, the specimens in federal waters are typically bigger and redder than those that meander the area closer to the shore. 

Food

A photo of a happy angler siting on a boat and holding a big Red Snapper with both hands caught in the Gulf of Mexico

Now that you know where to look for Red Snappers, let’s see how you can grab their attention. The first thing you should know is that Red Snappers love crustaceans and small fish. Add the fact that they’re opportunistic feeders and you’ll know what to do. 

This means that you can just lower your bait and Red Snappers will be ready to grab it. They’ll mouth just about anything from fish, shrimp, and crab, to squid and worms. You can’t go wrong with any of these as long as you give them the bait in a proper manner. 

Angling

A photo of a female angler standing on a charter boat and bottom fishing during the choppy seas on a cloudy day

Speaking of presentation, the approach you choose to lure Red Snappers is crucial. Sure, they adore natural bait, but they’ll fall for soft jigs and spoons as well if you serve their dinner the way they like it. To make sure they notice your bait, once you lower it to the bottom, either keep it still or move it slowly.

As for the actual angling method, bottom fishing is the name of the game. Pair it up with durable tackle, sinkers, and 50-pound class lines and you’re ready to face your trophy Red Snapper. If you opt for natural baits, don’t forget to use non-stainless steel circle hooks. To maximize your chances of landing impressive specimens, team up with one of many first-class Florida Red Snapper fishing charters.

Where to go Red Snapper fishing in Florida?

Luckily for you, Florida is blessed with Red Snapper fishing hotspots. This means you can hit almost any coastal city in the Sunshine State during summer and end up with a prolific Red Snapper fishery. But if you’re wondering what the best Red Snapper fishing spots in Florida are, take a look at our list of the top places below. 

An infographic featuring a map of Florida and text that says "Florida Red Snapper Fishing Spots" and names of the hotspots against a blue background with the FishingBooker logo
  • Florida Panhandle. Situated at the very heart of the Gulf of Mexico, Florida’s Panhandle offers superb angling opportunities. It boasts so many Red Snapper corners, that it’s impossible not to mention the entire area. From Perdido Key, Pensacola, and Fort Walton Beach, to Destin and Panama City, the Northwest region is teeming with Red Snapper. Each of these coastal cities is studded with top-notch charter operators who specialize in Red Snapper hunts!
  • Tampa. Tampa is famous for its Tarpon population. However, Central West Florida proves to be a productive Red Snapper playground, too. Just outside the bay, you’ll come across the multitude of shipwrecks and reefs that are ideal hideouts for Red Snappers. Apart from offshore structures, you can find Red Snappers in Tampa’s nearshore waters as well. Plus, the bite is consistent throughout the season. What more could you wish for?
  • Volusia County. The Atlantic coast is just as rich as the Gulf of Mexico. The entire Volusia County is studded with prime Red Snapper spots, the best being Ormond Beach, Daytona Beach, Port Orange, and New Smyrna Beach. So, if you decide to visit any of these cities, you won’t end up empty-handed. Red Snappers love to explore concrete rubble as close as 10 miles offshore and in depths around 80 feet.
  • Treasure Coast. This aptly-named area is home to a couple of Red Snapper gems such as Sebastian and Fort Pierce. While you may hit any place along Treasure Coast, these two jewels stand out with their Red Snapper supply and offer of Florida fishing charters. Now that you know what the ideal departure points are, the only two things left to do are to keep a close eye on announcements regarding the season and book your captain in advance!

Anything else I should know?

A group of anglers after going Red Snapper fishing in Florida showing off their catches on the dock in front of a charter boat

We already covered everything you should know about Red Snapper season. But remember how we said that the season was one of several management measures the authorities had introduced to prevent overfishing? Well, there are two more you should know about when Red Snapper fishing in Florida – bag and size restrictions.

If you go Red Snapper fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, your daily bag limit will be two keepers per person. As for the length, the minimal size of your Red Snapper catch has to be 16 inches. These rules slightly differ on the Atlantic side of Florida, where a 20-inch minimum length applies. Depending on whether you’re fishing in state or federal waters in the Atlantic, you can either keep two or one Red Snapper per person.

Red Snapper Fishing in Florida: The Event of the Year

A group of satisfied anglers sitting on a fishing charter boat and holding their Snapper and Tuna catches on a cloudy day

By now you’ve realized that Red Snapper fishing in Florida holds a special place in angling circles. And no, we aren’t overselling when we say that it’s the event of the year. What’s more, we’re probably selling it short. So, if you’re thinking about giving it a try, plan in advance and secure your spot aboard one of many top-tier Florida Red Snapper fishing charters in time because once the season is announced, the fishing frenzy is unlocked. Better safe than sorry! Don’t say we didn’t warn you. 

Frequently Asked Questions

A group of anglers sitting on a charter boat and holding their Red Snapper catches

Have you ever been Red Snapper fishing in Florida before? What was your experience like? Hit the comment button below and tell us all about your Red Snapper hunt! Or ask us anything Red Snapper-related!

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Tanya is a Content Creator at FishingBooker and a secret admirer of all things weird and wonderful beneath the waves. The waves, however, are her archnemeses (#seasickness). But she got hooked on angling in 2016 and there was simply no way back. Fishing became her reel passion, and she hasn't stopped casting lines and spinning tales about it ever since.

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