BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - When the Alabama Gulf Coast re-opened following The COVID-19 shutdown, most people did not anticipate the flood of tourists, especially fishing enthusiasts who would immediately return to popular spots like Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.
Colonel Scott Bannon, Marine Resources Division Director for The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) said, “This year we saw a tremendous increase in boating activity prior to the opening of Red Snapper season that we attribute to the reduction in other activities, such as theme parks and travel sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When Red Snapper season opened, we saw a 50 percent increase in vessel trips in the first 20 days of the season compared to last year. A lot of people were able to go fishing and they caught some great fish.”
Unfortunately, the huge increase in Red Snapper fishing meant the state reached its established quota earlier than anticipated, so the ADCNR was forced to close Red Snapper season for private fishermen and state-licensed charter vessels effective July 3.
Director Bannon admits, “We understand that people are disappointed that we did not achieve the number of days of red snapper fishing we predicted this year, but the amount of people who went fishing was amazing. Our staff tries to model effort and weather to make a season prediction, but other factors can influence that.”
There are still numerous federally licensed charter fishing operations available for Red Snapper Fishing in federally regulated waters and, of course, there are plenty of other fish.
According to Orange Beach’s Captain Joe Hester of Fishbait Charters, fishing enthusiasts can still catch Mangrove Snapper, Trigger Fish, King Mackeral or Spanish Mackeral in The Gulf, or inshore fishing will let you land Red Fish and Speckled Trout.
The Federal Charter Boat Season for Red Snapper is scheduled to remain open seven days a week through Aug. 1.
ADCNR Commissioner Chris Blakenship said, “We are required under the management plan to adjust to changes in the recreational fishery to ensure we do not exceed our quota. We will continue to work to make improvements in the federal stock assessment process for Red Snapper that we hope will increase the quota for future years.”
In the meantime, there are still plenty of fish in the sea.
For more information on the new Red Snapper Management, which is now under the jurisdiction of The ADCNR, check out this week’s Absolutely Alabama.