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Texas Red Snapper Season Closing Early on August 2

Red snapper season in federal waters off the Texas Gulf Coast ends August 2 — 35 days earlier than originally planned due to an unusual number of catches early in the season, which began June 1.

Red snapper season is closing earlier than expected this year, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department recently announced. Originally set to last 97 days beginning June 1, the season will close after only 62 days at 12:01 a.m. Friday, August 2. The closing affects private anglers in federal waters, which are 9 nautical miles from shore.

After anglers landed 69 percent of the red snapper allocated for the season as of July 12, the department announced the season’s closing, stating that favorable weather early in the season led to the increase in snapper catches.

“Closing the red snapper fishery earlier than expected is a sign that anglers were able to get out in the Gulf early in the season to catch red snapper,” said Robin Riechers of the Coastal Fisheries Division.

This is only the second year the state has been in charge of establishing open and close dates for the season. Previously, the National Marine Fisheries Services made the determinations for all five Gulf states: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.

Each state can now establish its own dates, although they must follow federal guidelines for the amount and size of fish landed each day. Fishery management of the red snapper population has brought the popular sport fish back from the brink of extinction.

“An early season closure demonstrates our ability to meet management goals while still giving longer seasons than if we were still in the one-size-fits-all approach across the Gulf,” Riechers said.

Also leading to the early closure, according to Mark Fisher, science director for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, were the increase in average weight of fish landed and the number of fishing trips in federal waters. Both numbers doubled over the same period in 2018, Fisher said.

The increased number of people fishing is the silver lining here, said Carter Smith, executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

“The success story here is that anglers have had greater opportunity to get out to this point and have taken full advantage of the weather and the fact that there are plenty of fish to catch,” he said.

Snapper season for charter boats will also end August 2, which is the original date set earlier this year. Private recreational anglers can still fish for red snapper in state waters year-round.

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