Red Snapper Season 2021: All You Need to Know
May 11, 2021 | 4 minute read Comments
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Reading Time: 4 minutes

Red Snapper season is almost upon us! Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas have announced their 2021 Red Snapper season dates. Anglers around the Gulf and beyond are getting ready to haul in these delicious bottom fish.

If you’re one of them, you’re in for a treat – as long as you know when to go. With that in mind, here’s a run-down of where and when to fish to make sure you fill up on fine-dining fillets this summer.

State vs Federal Waters: A Quick Summary

Smiling blonde female angler holding a large Red Snapper

Before we jump into the actual dates and places to fish, it’s worth quickly explaining the difference between state and federal-water seasons. In the Gulf of Mexico, every state is in charge of the first nine nautical miles of sea. After that, you hit Federal waters.

Why does this matter? Simply put, the biggest fish often live in Federal waters. On top of that, Federal reef fishing permits are in very short supply in the Gulf, so finding a captain that’s federally-licensed can be tough – especially during Snapper season! Don’t worry, you can still catch your fill in State waters in many places.

2021 Red Snapper Season in Gulf of Mexico State Waters

A man and a boy holding Red Snapper caught in the Gulf of Mexico

Every state has different dates for when you can catch Red Snapper. This can be confusing, but if you time your trip right, you can still reel in these delicious fish all around the Gulf. So what are the state-water Red Snapper seasons for 2021? Here’s a state-by-state breakdown, starting in Florida and working around the Gulf.

  • Florida Red Snapper Season 2021: Every day from June 4 to July 28. Applies to Florida’s state waters in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Alabama Red Snapper Season 2021: Every Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday starting May 28. The season will run until the recreational quota is met.
  • Mississippi Red Snapper Season 2021: Every day from May 28 until an anticipated mid-season closure of July 5. The season may then reopen if the recreational quota has not been met.
  • Louisiana Red Snapper Season 2021: Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday starting May 28, plus Memorial Day (May 31) and Labor Day (September 6). The season will run until the recreational quota is met.
  • Texas Red Snapper Season 2021: State waters are open year-round.

These seasons apply to private anglers and anglers fishing from licensed for-hire charters fishing in the state waters. The daily bag limit is two fish per person with a 16-inch minimum length. The only exception is Texas, with a limit of four fish and a 15-inch minimum length requirement.

Once a state reaches the quota, the season will close. But, there is also a chance that the state will extend the season if the estimated quotas aren’t reached. Fingers crossed!

2021 Red Snapper Season in Gulf of Mexico Federal Waters

A man and his son holding large Red Snapper at a dock in Orange Beach, AL

The federal season for Red Snapper will run for 63 days – one more than last year. Anglers will be able to fish the federal waters from June 1, at 12:01 a.m. until August 3, at 12:01 a.m. These dates apply to recreational anglers fishing from charter and head boats in Gulf waters.

Only charters with a federal permit are allowed to fish federal Red Snapper fisheries, so make sure the charter you choose has this permit. Remember that when you’re going on a recreational trip, you still need to follow the bag limits of 2 fish per person – at least 16 inches.

Where to Go Fishing for Red Snapper

If you want to snatch a tasty Snapper or two, there are some places that you simply have to try out. Our favorites are Galveston, Orange Beach, and Destin, and Panama City Beach. They live all around the Gulf, though, so you can find a charter near you wherever you are!

Let’s have a closer look at each of the five US Gulf States:

Florida

If you want sunny days and great fishing, come here for a weekend. Or even better, extend your stay! There are endless fishing opportunities in the Florida Panhandle, including the capital of fishing, Destin, followed by Panama City Beach, Fort Walton Beach, and Pensacola.

Alabama

A smiling fisherman holding a big Red Snapper caught in the Gulf of Mexico.

Alabama had a total of 27 Red Snapper days last year. Whether you choose Orange Beach or Gulf Shores, this stretch of coast has superb fishing. No angler can imagine Orange Beach without bags full of Red Snapper, and the fish seem to grow especially big around here.

Louisiana

Still boasting the Red Snapper world record (an impressive 50 pounds, 4 ounces), Louisiana has excellent Red Snapper fishing opportunities and numerous local charters to prove it. Venice is a particularly good launchpad for recreational anglers.

Mississippi

Like the other states overlooking the Gulf waters, Mississippi too has a pretty impressive Red Snapper track record. Head out of Biloxi or Gulfport, and you will likely come home with big Snapper and an equally big smile on your face.

Texas

A man in sunglasses and a hat holding a Red Snapper with open sea behind him

Texas has already been blessed with a year-long Red Snapper season in state waters. Galveston is the place to be if you want a nice brawl, but other places, like Port Aransas and South Padre Island will certainly do the trick as well.

Want to find the perfect charter to help you earn bragging rights this summer? Check out hundreds of Red Snapper fishing charters on FishingBooker. We’d love to see your catches and hear your stories in the comments below.

Comments (33)
  • Maria Longnecker

    Aug 18, 2020

    I have just moved to Riviera Tx it’s August 17th 2020 may I still fish for Red Snapper here or did the season end August 3rd?

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      Sean

      Aug 18, 2020

      Hi Maria,

      Thanks for reading.

      I’m afraid that the season has ended on August 3rd, yes.

      Still, there are plenty of other species that are in season now, so you’ll definitely be able to catch some tasty fish this summer.

      Have a great day!

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  • Rod Douglas

    Jul 10, 2020

    Thanks for all the good information. We’re coming in from Va Beach for a week. I believe Al has closed red Snapper season. My question is, can I fish in Fla Waters’and travel though the pass, Al waters to get back to Fla with snapper in my boat?

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      Sean

      Jul 13, 2020

      Hi Rod,

      Thanks for reading.

      You’re right, Alabama’s recreational Snapper fishing season is closed as of July 3. The reason for the closure is that the recreational catch quota was met two weeks ahead of time this year.

      As for coming through AL waters after you’ve caught Snapper in FL waters, I’m afraid that that’s somewhat of a grey area because it’s difficult to prove that your catch came from another state. My advice would be to get in touch with the Alabama Coast Guard and ask for advice.

      Sorry I wasn’t able to assist you more concretely.

      Tight lines!

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  • Karl

    Jun 13, 2020

    The world record for red snapper, weighing 50 lbs. and 4 oz., was caught in the Gulf of Mexico off the Lousiana coast by Doc Kennedy in 1996, according to the International Game Fish Association.Jul 1, 2014

    I saw this fish landed in grand isle la

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      Sean

      Jun 15, 2020

      Hi Karl,

      Lucky you, that must’ve been some sight!

      Thanks for sharing!

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      Bobby Hill

      Feb 18, 2021

      Are the dates out for Red Snapper fishing season in Alabama . Thanks in advance.

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      Sean

      Feb 18, 2021

      Hi Bobby,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      No, the dates haven’t been announced yet, I’m afraid.

      As soon as they’re released, we’ll update the article with the new information.

      Have a good one!

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  • Crystal

    Jul 25, 2019

    We are wanting to go fishing for red snapper in Galveston. We were looking at doing a party fishing boat in August. Will red snapper season be closed at that time? I am confused by federal vs. state rules…thanks!

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      Sean

      Jul 25, 2019

      Hi Crystal,

      Thanks for reading.

      Yes, the Red Snapper seasons for state and federal waters are a little different. In Texas, you can fish for Red Snapper in federal waters (up to 9 miles off the coast) until August 2, at 12:01 a.m.

      The Red Snapper fishing season in Texas state waters is open all year. You can check out local Captians’ availability and compare their offers here.

      Should you need any assistance in choosing the right Captain, feel free to contact our Customer Service Team.

      Tight lines!

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  • Scott

    Jun 2, 2019

    Can you launch in Florida and fish the Alabama red snapper season opener and return to Florida as long as you do not stop in Florida waters until you reach your launching point?

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      Lynn Jones

      Jun 3, 2019

      No, you may not be in possession of red snapper in Florida state waters while the season is closed as a recreational boat.

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  • Justin

    May 29, 2019

    I got a question for ya . It’s says out of the Atlantic side in state waters which is 3 miles out that reds are open year around . How can they tell if that fish was caught in 3 miles or in 20 miles ?

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      Albert

      May 30, 2019

      Hi Justin,

      Good question!

      The Coast Guard has boats out on patrol, and presumably monitors boats via radar.

      Even so, enforcement is a real issue that the FWC and USCG face. Sadly, there will always be people trying to “slip the net” so to speak.

      If you have information about someone fishing illegally, you should report it to the FWC immediately.

      In the meantime, I hope you get a great bite in state waters, or make the most of this year’s long Gulf Red Snapper season!

      Tight lines!

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  • Alex vlahos

    May 25, 2019

    Can a recreational fishermen in their own boat fish in federal Gulf of Mexico waters? If so what days for Florida and Alabama

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      Albert

      May 27, 2019

      Hi Alex,

      Yes, private boats can fish in state and federal waters.

      In Florida, the season runs from June 11 until July 12.

      In Alabama, the season runs on three-day weekends (Friday-Sunday) from June 1 through July 28, as well as on Thursday, July 4.

      Tight lines!

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  • george webber

    May 19, 2019

    I’m totally confused by all of the different dates i have seen for the red snapper season for 2019 in floridas atlantic federal waters. i thought it was 2 3 day weekends in aug. 2019?

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      Albert

      May 20, 2019

      Hi George,

      The annual Snapper season changes can be confusing. There are different seasons based on which coast you’re fishing on, as well as the type of license the boat has.

      Here’s a breakdown of how and when you can catch them on Florida’s Gulf Coast:

      – Federally-permitted for-hire vessels (charter/head boats) can fish from June 1 until August 2 in federal waters (over 9 miles from the shore).

      – Other for-hire vessels (charter/head boats) can fish from June 11 until July 12 in state waters (up to 9 miles from the shore).

      – Private boats can fish from June 11 until July 12 in state and federal waters.

      On the other hand, Florida’s Atlantic Red Snapper season is open July 12-14 (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) and July 19-20 (Friday and Saturday) only, for all boat types.

      I hope that clears up any confusion.

      Tight lines and happy Snapper fishing this summer!

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  • Donna

    May 10, 2019

    You stated that only 2 red snapper can be kept. I was reading the Texas Parks and Wildlife outdoor annual and it says you can keep 4 with a min. of 15in.. Is this a misprint ? Can you explain please and thank you.

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      Sean

      May 12, 2019

      Hello Donna,

      Thanks for reading.

      You’re completely right. According to an official announcement from TPWD, the 2 fish per person daily limit with a 16-inch minimum size is valid for federal waters only.

      In Texas state waters, you will have a daily limit of 4 fish per person with a 15-inch minimum size.

      Thank you for pointing this out.

      Tight lines!

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  • Daniel Neubacher

    May 3, 2019

    What about the Atlantic side, did they open it year round?

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      Sean

      May 5, 2019

      Hello Daniel,

      Thanks for reading.

      Actually no, the South Atlantic (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida) Red Snapper season for 2019 will be open on July 12, 13 and 14, as well as July 19 and 20.

      The recreational bag limit will be one red snapper per person per day.

      I hope you’ll find this helpful.

      Tight lines!

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  • mike dudney

    Mar 26, 2019

    in federal waters can i take my own boat to catch snappers or do i need to be on a charter boat with a permit..or must i stay in state waters with my own recreational vessel? for FL

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      Sean

      Mar 26, 2019

      Hello Mike,

      Thank you for reading.

      Yes, you can catch Red Snapper in federal waters. Just keep in mind that the Florida state fishing regulations will apply. Therefore, you’ll need a Gulf Reef Fish Angler designation on your fishing license.

      You’ll also need to follow all other requirements for landing in the state and abide by the federal bag limit (maximum two fish per person) and size limit (minimum 16 inches total length) when fishing in federal waters.

      Lastly, you’ll need to report your catch before you land, through the iAngler Gulf Red Snapper app.

      I hope you’ll find this helpful.

      Tight lines!

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      Clayton guy

      Jun 17, 2019

      IF U GO OUT FOR A TWO DAY FISHING TRIP WHY CANT U KEEP A TWO DAY BAG LIMIT FOR RED
      SNAPPER

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      Sean

      Jun 17, 2019

      Hi Clayton,

      Thanks, that’s a good question.

      You actually do have a two-day bag limit with two-day fishing trips.

      Each 24-hour period (from midnight to midnight) starts a new bag limit. It is illegal to harvest your limit, return to shore, and then harvest again within the same 24-hour period.

      However, when it comes to multiday trips, there is an exception. According to the MYFWC, two-day outings allow individuals to possess double the daily bag limit. Please note that this only counts as long as:

      The vessel has a sleeping berth for each passenger aboard the vessel;
      Each passenger possesses a receipt issued on behalf of the vessel that verifies the length of the trip.

      I hope that helps.

      Tight lines!

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      Sandy

      May 28, 2020

      I’m 75 and don’t need a fishing license. Do I need something in order to catch red snapper in federal waters.

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      Sean

      Jun 1, 2020

      Hi Sandy,

      Thanks for reading.

      To fish for Snapper in federal waters, you need to make sure you’re going out with a federally licensed guide. Other than that, you just need to follow the bag limits of 2 fish per person, and the size requirement of at least 16 inches.

      Tight lines!

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  • Margie Braun

    Mar 17, 2019

    We are planning a fishing trip to Destin Fl in May. We would look to fish for red snapper. Is this a good time to fish?

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      Sean

      Mar 18, 2019

      Hello Margie,

      Thanks for reading.

      May will be a great time to fish for Red Snapper, however, the season will not be open yet at that time. Therefore, you’ll need to release all the Red Snapper you catch. The Red Snapper season will be open in Gulf waters from June 1 to August 1.

      Still, even if May is the only time that works for you, there are a number of other species you’ll be able to catch and keep.

      I hope you’ll find this helpful.

      Tight lines!

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      Cyd W. Smith

      Jun 11, 2020

      In the article above it states:

      “Florida Red Snapper Season 2020: Every day from June 11–25. Applies to Florida’s state waters in the Gulf of Mexico.”

      The dates tha FWC state June 11 – July 25 (45 days)

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      Albert

      Jun 11, 2020

      Hi Cyd,

      Thanks for pointing that out. That was a mistake on our end when updating for this year’s regulations – I’ve changed it now.

      All the best!

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  • Kenneth Manny

    May 23, 2018

    Hope the dates hold up for Florida. Missed last few years due to Health and just retired February 28th. Just trying to plan a trip for a couple of friends hopefully the weather will be good off West Central Florida! Thanks for all the information!

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