With a coastline stretching 367 miles, Texas has no shortage of saltwater fishing opportunities. And that extends to anglers looking to reservation the coveted Red Snapper. Unlike elsewhere in the country, you can go without this trophy species year-round, and there are plenty of them on offer.
In this article, I’m going to imbricate Texas’s Red Snapper fishing opportunities. I’ll explore where to go, when to visit, and what to expect. Let’s swoop in.
Where to Fish for Red Snapper in Texas
Red Snapper fishing in Texas can be divided into two main fisheries: fishing in state waters and fishing in federal waters. State waters are all waters that proffer out 9 nautical miles off the coastline. Federal waters proffer out from the state water purlieus – starting at 9 nautical miles and beyond.
It’s very important to understand the difference between these two “fisheries” considering the rules, regulations, seasons, and slot limits vary significantly.
Perhaps the most popular and well-flavored thing well-nigh Red Snapper fishing in Texas is that the season is unshut year-round in state waters. This ways that Texas anglers can pursue, catch, and alimony Red Snapper all year, as long as they are fishing within state waters. And, there are plenty of Red Snapper to within that range – if you know where to look.
The Red Snapper fishery in federal waters off the Texas tailspin is managed by the National Marine Fisheries Service. Each year, the season, withal with bag and size limits, changes for recreational anglers.
Typically, the federal Red Snapper season is much increasingly conservative, with a short season and smaller bag limit. However, the majority of the truly big Red Snapper are unprotected in federal waters.
How to Tell If You’re in State or Federal Waters
The easiest way to determine if you’re fishing in state or federal waters is to use an electronic navigation device and mapping software. Most marine electronic units will have navigation charts and purlieus markers, so you can see precisely where you’re fishing – i.e. in state or federal waters.
Additionally, marine charts and navigation maps moreover indicate state/federal boundaries. When planning your trip, determine your desired fishing zone and personize the location surpassing departing.
Best Texas Ports for Red Snapper
All of the major cities withal the Texas tailspin offer wangle to Red Snapper fishing grounds with experienced guides and lease captains ready to put you on the fish.
Determining where to plan your trip depends on your (or a captain’s) vessel and the time of year. For example, Port Arthur and Galveston in North Texas have spanking-new Snapper fishing. However, the majority of the opportunities are going to be in federal waters, due to the shallow depths found in state waters.
As you move down the tailspin to Port O’Connor and Port Aransas, deeper waters are much increasingly accessible, with numerous strained reefs and wrecks found within state waters in 50–80 feet, making them platonic for smaller vessels and tropical access.
And although South Texas doesn’t get as much sustentation for its Red Snapper fishing opportunities, it would be a mistake to miss out on it. South Padre Island has three reefs within its state waters. It moreover offers the quickest wangle to the continental shelf, where the endangerment of transmissible a true deep water giant is possible.
Red Snapper Habitat
Red Snapper is a bottom-dwelling species, found off the Texas tailspin in 30-600 feet of water. They prefer nonflexible structure with relief – so alimony an eye out for reefs, rocks, rubble, ledges, or any other nonflexible bottom, such as sloping limestone banks and mixed coral.
If it’s your first time fishing for Red Snapper, consider hiring an experienced guide or lease vessel. They have the wits and local knowledge to put you on spots that don’t receive a lot of fishing pressure.
Thanks to the efforts of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, there are dozens of strained reefs found off the Texas tailspin where you can reservation Red Snapper and many other popular species.
Take a squint at the Texas Strained Reef Interactive Mapping application where you can get the word-for-word GPS locations of strained reefs in your area, withal with the depth, loftiness from port, and much more.
You don’t need an strained reef to find Red Snapper in Texas. In fact, there are myriad natural reefs and prime habitats scattered withal the Texas tailspin that hold fish.
Grab a local orchestration of the zone you intend to fish or use the electronic navigation device on your vessel to scan and squint for Red Snapper habitat indicators, such as hard bottoms, rubble piles, debris, and reefs. These natural habitats may take some homework to find, but they can be incredibly productive.
We all know that Texas is oil country, and that reputation extends into the Gulf of Mexico. There are hundreds of zippy and derelict oil rigs off the tailspin of Texas, at depths anywhere from 80–8,000 feet. These offshore steel behemoths are miniature ecosystems, often attracting swarms of bait, pelagic, and offshore fish. And that includes Red Snapper.
More than 140 decommissioned oil platforms have been converted into unscratched strained reefs off the Texas coast. If you have a vessel capable of reaching them, the Red Snapper fishing there is among the weightier in the world.
When to Go Red Snapper Fishing in Texas
Historically, the summer months of June, July, and August offer unappetizing seas and unconfined Red Snapper fishing. This is moreover the time of year when the federal season is open. That ways anglers can alimony up to two fish daily when fishing vastitude 9 nautical miles.
As we’ve once said, Texas is unique in the fact that its state waters are unshut year-round. Many anglers take wholesomeness of this by fishing for Red Snapper in the winter months, too. This is particularly possible in South Texas where the waters are warmer.
Overall, an experienced guide can put you on Red Snapper any time of the year. But for truly epic fishing conditions, plan for the warmer summer months.
Red Snapper Tackle & Gear
Red Snapper in state waters stereotype 2–10 pounds. In federal waters and deeper habitats, they can grow up to 30 pounds, so plan your tackle accordingly.
For nearshore Red Snapper – in 50 feet or less – a 4000-6000 series spinning reel with a 30 lb braided line is ideal. Most Snapper fishing is washed-up vertically, so you don’t need a long tossing rod. Use a stout 6–7′ heavy power wend rod instead. Tie on a 50 lb fluorocarbon leader, a 7/0-10/0 whirligig hook, and just unbearable lead to get your morsel to the marrow or where the fish are holding (typically 1–3 ounces of weight).
If you’re targeting Red Snapper in deep water virtually heavy structures such as oil rigs and large strained reefs, you’ll want to whinge up your tackle to contend with strong currents and worthier fish.
A 6000-10000 series spinning reel, or equivalent tossing reel with a 50 lb braided line and an 80 lb fluorocarbon leader should do the trick. Use a large non-stainless steel whirligig vaccinate in the 8/0-12/0 range, and, the deeper you’re fishing, the increasingly lead weight you’ll need.
One of the benefits of hiring an experienced guide or lease wend is that they’ll provide all the tackle, gear, and morsel for you.
Best Red Snapper Baits
When it comes to the most reliable way to reservation Red Snapper, live morsel is king. Pinfish, pigfish, pogies, croakers, finger mullet, grunts, cigar minnows, and pilchards all work extremely well. You can try transmissible your own with a tint net or sabiki rig on any of the coastal navigation buoys, or purchase them in whop at the local marina.
If you can’t get your hands on any live bait, freshly cut morsel is your next option. Chunks of frozen ballyhoo, cigar minnows, squid, and crab can be very effective, expressly if you’re worldly-wise to chum up the Red Snapper into a frenzy. This method works weightier in waters less than 80 feet deep.
Since the vast majority of Red Snapper fishing is washed-up from a vertical position (directly underneath the boat), the most popular lures are vertical pencil jigs or Yo-Yo style lures that are popped up and lanugo vertically with a unexceptionable wink and erratic action.
Otherwise, most anglers use heavy-duty jig heads in the 2–5 ounce range, tipped with a piece of cut bait. Simply tint out and let your lure swing 3–6 feet over the structure where the fish are holding. Then, requite the rod a few pops, wavy your jig throne up and lanugo while you wait for the bite.
Texas Red Snapper Fishing Regulations
Both resident and non-resident anglers are required to have a valid Texas fishing license with a saltwater endorsement, regardless of whether you’re fishing in state or federal waters. Here are the prices:
Texas Resident Saltwater License Package: $35
Texas Senior Resident Saltwater License Package (age 65 ): $17
Non-Resident Saltwater License Package: $63
Red Snapper Fishing In Federal Waters
Season: Opens June 1 –TBD (consult the National Marine Fisheries Service)
Bag Limit: 2 fish per person daily
Size Limit: 16 inch minimum
Red Snapper Fishing in Texas State Waters
Season: Unshut Year-round*
Bag Limit: 4 fish per person daily
Size limit: 15 inch minimum
*Always consult with the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife on the most up-to-date Red Snapper regulations, as they can transpiration depending on angler harvest and other environmental conditions.
Non-stainless steel whirligig hooks are required when fishing with natural (live or dead) bait. At least one dehooking device is required per vessel, and must be used to remove hooks.
What else can you reservation while Red Snapper fishing?
One of the weightier parts well-nigh fishing for Red Snapper is the mixed bag you’re likely to catch. Mangrove Snapper, Cobia, Amberjack, Triggerfish, Grouper, and many other popular game fish all frequent the same nonflexible relief structure as Red Snapper.
In most cases, anglers are worldly-wise to reservation their limit of red snapper, withal with a potation full of increasingly generous species to fill the freezer.
Texas Red Snapper Fishing: The Weightier Is in the West
There’s a reason why Red Snapper are among the most desired fish in North America. They taste excellent, they fight hard, and they’re a wham to catch. And Texas offers something that most other states don’t – a year-round season in state waters! That ways increasingly opportunity to fill the freezer and reservation fish.
Combine this with the fact that there are hundreds of reefs, wrecks, oil rigs, and plenty of natural habitat, and you see why Texas is one of the top spots in the world for Red Snapper. So what are you waiting for? Plan your trip. I reassure you won’t regret it!
Have you overly been Red Snapper fishing in Texas? How was your experience? Anything you’d like to share with your fellow anglers? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!