No More Snapper…at least for now

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The 2018 recreational red snapper season will end this weekend for Louisiana anglers.

But it may open again in the future for additional recreational harvest opportunities.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced on June 26 that it had voted to close the season at 11:59 p.m. on July 8, making this the final weekend that anglers will be able to target the prized offshore fish.

The season was opened on May 25 after the LWDF received control over setting its season dates. At the time of the opening, the LDWF said it would reserve the right to study catches and change the season to weekends-only (it is currently open 7 days a week) or close it altogether if catches were too abundant.

In a news release to announce the closure of the season, LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet said the season could re-open if it’s discovered that the state’s quota is not met. If those re-openings occur, they would be for the first weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) of each month beginning in August and lasting until the state’s private recreational allocation of 743,000 pounds is met. 

The decision was met after studying the rate of landings and with the recommendation of LDWF biologists. Montoucet said he supports the decisions made by his team.

“The department appreciates the help of Louisiana anglers for responding to voluntary surveys to determine accurate and reliable harvest estimates through the LA Creel program,” he said. “Their help will be crucial in determining when we should consider closing the season.”

In the latest numbers provided by LA Creel, Louisiana anglers have shown an ability to fish snapper responsibly — well within allocation limits.

Latest catch statistics from LA Creel show that 275,723 pounds of snapper have been caught, from the season’s open on May 25 to June 10 — just 38 percent of the allocation limit.

Now that we are in July, the numbers are likely far closer to the limit, which led to the decision to halt the season this weekend to re-evaluate the plan for the rest of the summer.

Through this weekend, snapper will be able to be caught at the original regulations set in May. Size and bag limits will remain at 16 inches and 2 fish per person, per day.

If the season doesn’t re-open after July 8, the length of the season in 2018 will have been 44 days total. 


Anglers asked this past week say they trust LDWF and support their decision to be cautious with snapper.

Henry Frank, of Golden Meadow, was fishing in Grand Isle, when we told him about the decision to halt the snapper season on July 8. 

He said he wishes the season could go on longer, but added quickly that he understands that caution is king when it comes to protecting snapper.

The battle between red snapper season dates has been ongoing for decades between the LDWF and federal environmentalists, who have argued for years that the fish are overfished on the Gulf. 

Frank said anglers want to protect the fish, too, and he said that the strict measuring statistics show that the state takes overfishing serious.

“We have no desire to overfish the snapper. I think that’s where we always had problems with NOAA and all of these other people who come in and try and tell us how to fish,” Frank said. “Our argument has always been, ‘We know how to police ourselves.’ Their argument was always, ‘We don’t trust you, so we won’t let you fish this fish anymore.’ I think we are seeing now that LDWF and the fishermen want to do this right and I trust how we are doing this.”

Houma angler Ronnie Guidry agreed. He said he’s planning to fish on the coast this weekend for the Golden Meadow-Fourchon Tarpon Rodeo and he’s grateful that the fish will still be able to be caught at the prestigious event.

Like Frank, Guidry said no one wants to overfish. He said he has grandkids and he wants future anglers to enjoy the same opportunities that he and others have had throughout their lifetimes.

“We don’t want to kill them off. That’s the last thing we want to do,” Guidry said. “We just wanted them to hear the other side of the argument and they have.”