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Fishing in Alabama: Red Snapper

Fishing in Alabama: Red Snapper

The Red Snapper is very common along the Gulf Coast, and has been carefully cultivated in Alabama, especially in Orange Beach. At the moment there is a particularly large abundance of red snapper in Alabama, and this is down to two reasons.

Firstly, Alabama has one of the biggest artificial reef building programs in the United States. Fish such as snappers, triggerfish, grouper, king mackerel and amberjacks are all attracted to reefs such as these. At the moment, the federal program obliges fishermen to construct a certain number of artificial reefs in order to house fish such as the snapper, which is determined by the size of the boats. For example charter fishing boats in Alabama which accommodate multiple passengers are obliged to set out 10 artificial reefs each year, while smaller six-pack passenger boats are required to construct 5 per year. Some boat captains have been known to construct up to 50 reefs however, as each reef contributes to the excellent fishing opportunities in the region. In this way, red snapper are essentially farmed along the Alabama coast. Each boat captain is careful to only take a certain amount from each reef, so that the stocks do not become depleted.

The second reason that there is an extra abundance of red snapper along the Alabama coast at the moment is down to new, and controversial, fishing regulations. According to these regulations, only two red snapper may be caught per person per day. You can also only go red snapper fishing in Alabama during a limited period. In 2010, that period was for just two and a half months, between June 1st and August 15th. The previous year it lasted for only 65 days. Although many fishermen in the area are unhappy about this, it has two benefits. The red snapper are fished less extensively, therefore there average life span has increased and they are growing to bigger sizes. Also chartered fishing boats in the area are almost completely booked up during the brief window of the red snapper season.

Currently 40 percent of the red snapper that are caught by recreational anglers along the Gulf Coast are caught in Alabama. This is unexpected, as there are only 35 miles of coastline in the state, not counting the coastline of Dauphin Island. This is highly indicative therefore that the artificial reef building system is extremely effective, and that you could do far worse than to choose to go red snapper fishing in Alabama.