Red snapper season winding down
Here’s the bad news: The extended recreational red snapper season in the Gulf of Mexico is heading into its final days.
The good news: The season has been a success, with solid reports in South Mississippi.
You gotta love it.
Unfortunately, the season, which only opened on weekends, officially ends at midnight on Nov. 22. Next Sunday will be the final day to wet a hook.
From all indications with a few personal trips mixed in, the red snapper stock is solid, which should make 2011 a great year.
Since the season opened, I’ve received several e-mails from anglers who ventured into the Gulf of Mexico to catch a species that can be fried, grilled or baked.
This week was no exception.
One group — five anglers in all — based out of Ocean Springs caught a limit of 10 red snapper while fishing in 100 feet of water. When the fishing ended, the group also had three legal grouper and two cobia.
But the attention grabber was the overall weight of the 10 red snapper.
A solid combined weight of 210 pounds.
Folks, that breaks down to an average of 21 pounds per fish.
Another e-mail from a group out of Pascagoula saw 10 fisherman catch a limit of 20 fish.
The combined weight was a little more than 400 pounds or 20 pounds per fish.
The first word that came to my mind about these two trips was remarkable.
Another e-mail, this one equipped with photos, came from Robby Ellis, a former D’Iberville football player who helped the Warriors win the 2002 4A State Championship.
Their trip includes several red snapper weighing more than 20 pounds, including a pair by Jared Cannette of D’Iberville.
But the offshore catch — by red snapper anglers — hasn’t been limited to red snapper only. How about several 50-pound cobia, a 60-pound grouper, several amberjack in the 50-pond range and King mackerel tipping the scales at 40 pounds or more caught since the extended season began.
Catches like these are the reasons why I believe we might have dodged a major bullet with the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Most anglers know the reason for the extended season was because of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on April 20. The spill, which forced NOAA to close a large portion of the northern Gulf of Mexico to fishing, happened during the peaking summer months.
The recreational side of the TAC was more than 1 million pounds short and that directly led to the extended season.
I applaud NOAA and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Council for doing the right thing with the extended season.
There is no way that all of it has been cleaned up, especially in the deeper-waters of the Gulf.
But things are improving and it deals with the fact that no fishing was allowed in most of the Gulf during the spill.
Instead of feeling the blues and pointing fingers at BP, let’s all do our part from now on to protect the resources.
If you have an empty drink can, place it in the trash can.
Do not toss any trash in the water.
Now that proper steps have been taken to clean up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, let’s do the right thing and stop pollution.
We take many things for granted in life, including fishing.
I think you get the picture.