Frequently Asked Questions

Dates – Nov 3-5 and Nov 10-12While the season is opened, recreational possession of red snapper will only be allowed on weekends (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). 

Recreational Regulations –

  • 1 fish per person
  • No minimum or maximum size limit
  • Circle hooks are required north of 28 degrees North when fishing for or possessing snapper grouper species in federal waters. 
  • Dehooking devices are required when fishing for or possessing snapper grouper species in federal waters. 

Red snapper are rebuilding from previously low levels and experience high release mortality, the likelihood a fish will die after release. Reducing release mortality will decrease the likelihood of overfishing. We encourage the following practices to conserve

  • Avoid areas likely to have red snapper if you already met your bag limit. If you are approaching your vessel limit, move to a different area. When red snapper are out of season, avoid areas where they are common.
  • Use single hook rigs since the bag limit for red snapper is one per person. This will potentially reduce the number of red snapper that are caught on one drop.
  • Keep fish that will be released in the water as much as possible and to return fish back to water as quickly as possible. Use a dehooking device to remove the hook.
  • Use descending devices if releasing fish with signs of barotrauma (see What is Barotrauma below for more information). There are a variety of descending devices available.


To collect information offshore out of cellular range, anglers can download the Offline Form to record catch and trip information to later be entered into MyFishCount. Click the Offline Form tab at the top of the MyFishCount page in order to view and download the form.  Please use one form per angler.  Be sure to transfer the information you collect on the form to your individual MyFishCount account.

Data speak. And all of us at the Snook and Gamefish Foundation and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council are interested in what it has to tell us. What might we learn?

  • Inform Future Decisions on Reporting - The use of the MyFishCount platform will inform decisions made in the development of the Council’s recreational reporting app, MyFishCount. The app is currently in the design phase and will be available for pilot testing in 2018.
  • Improve Discard Estimates - Estimates of released fish and their mortality, as seen in the following section, are included in the management of red snapper. But those estimated are uncertain, as stated by the National Marine Fisheries Service. This concerns all of us and we need catch reports from you to better inform management decisions in the future. Test phases like this are crucial in helping us get there.
  • Improve Red Snapper Management - The more information we can receive from fishermen like you, the more likely we are to better understand red snapper biology and improve management.
  • Data Are Confidential – Your individual data are confidential.  Information about your catch will be combined with at least three other fishermen (on other vessels) when describing red snapper catch and effort.

Fish experience barotrauma, a condition caused by a change in pressure, when a fish is rapidly reeled to the surface. The change in pressure causes air in the swimbladder to expand and prevents the fish from being able to swim back down to the bottom. The inflated swimbladder acts like a “floatie” for children and keeps the fish at the surface. Barotrauma can occur when fish are brought up from depths as shallow as 30 feet. It is most common in fish reeled up from greater than 90 feet and becomes more severe when reeled up from deeper depths. Descending devices can be used to return fish back to the bottom. Signs of barotrauma are displayed in the pictures below.


Pictures provided by Brendan Runde, Department of Applied Ecology, NC State University.

Hook type can influence the survivorship of released fish because certain hooks types are more likely to hook fish in the jaw. A jaw hooked fish is more likely to survive when released than a fish hooked in the stomach, eye, or gill. Please note:

  • Non-offset circle hooks are less likely to cause injury than other hook types.

Circle Hook

J Hook

Non offset Circle Hook

Offset J Hook

Hooks were provided by Charleston Angler.

Observed occurrences of potentially lethal hooking for red snapper based on different hook types. Information was developed in Sauls et al. 2016 and presented in SEDAR 41. As you can see non-offset circle hooks have the lowest chance of potentially lethal hooking.
Hook-Type Lip or Jaw Potentially Lethal Location Percent Potentially Lethal
Non-offset circle 652 31 4.5%
Offset circle 1,245 96 7.2%
Non-offset J 141 16 10.2%
Offset J 743 170 18.6%
Other (Kahle, Treble) 19 3 13.6%

The Hook Location is used to estimate release mortality.

Circle hooks are required when fishing for or possessing snapper grouper species in federal waters north of 28 degrees North. This is approximately located east of Juan Ponce Park in Melbourne Beach, Florida.

Depth is used to estimate the release mortality. Fish caught in deeper depths are more likely to succumb to barotrauma. An example of the relationship between depth and predicted release mortality for red snapper is presented below based on information from Burns et al. 2001. Note: More recent release mortality rates (lower) have been developed based on use of venting tools, circle hooks, and de-hooking tools but a depth relationship has not been created.



The following figure can be used to estimate the length and age of a red snapper caught in the South Atlantic region. Each diamond represents a red snapper that was aged by South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. As the image below indicates, large red snapper (fish greater than 30 inches) vary in age from 3 to 45 years old.

Data provided by Marine Resources Monitoring, Assessment, and Prediction Program of South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

The pictures collected during the open season can be used to estimate the length of red snapper caught and released if the photographs have something to measure alongside the fish. When taking a picture please:

  • Capture the whole fish from snout to tail in the photo. 
  • Have the fish on a measuring board or beside something of standard length (soda can, coin, etc).  

Picture provided by Brendan Runde, Department of Applied Ecology, NC State University.

Carcass collection programs have been developed by North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia to collect additional information that length along cannot provide.  The leftover carcass of red snapper can provide important information needed in management including age and sexual maturity of red snapper caught by recreational fishermen during mini-seasons.  Fish with the head, tail, and stomach intact are ideal.  Please consider dropping off your red snapper carcass so that it can be used in science and management.  Locations for the carcass collection sites can be found at the SAFMC’s website.     

You can reach out to us at


South Atlantic Fishery Management Council

4055 Faber Place drive, Suite 201. North Charleston, SC 29405
843-571-4366 phone | 866-SAFMC-10 toll free | 843-769-4520 fax