With just hours left in the 2013 snapper season, local captains went for the big haul.
"With one more day left, you've got to go for the big ones," said Capt. Jason Hallmark of the Vengeance as they unloaded a massive haul of 15- to 18-pound red snapper Thursday afternoon.
Red snapper season comes to a close at midnight Friday for federally permitted boats, which includes most of Destin's charter fleet. However, recreational boats and charters that do not carry a federal permit have until July 14 to catch red snapper in state waters, which extends out to nine-miles in the Gulf. The limit is still two per person per trip.
Capt. Caleb Brown on the Silver Hook came in with a limit of red snapper and a pair of king mackerel, and Capt. Eddie Dykes and the crew aboard the Shamrock II reeled in a limit of red snapper.
Texas and Panama City anglers on the Realin Scripts with Capt. B.J. Teems had a rack full of red snapper, a couple of black snapper and five king mackerel.
New York anglers on the Double Time with Capt. Tim Adams pulled in their red snapper and a couple of black snapper.
Capt. Curt Gwin and his group on the Only Way came in with a limit of big red snapper, black snapper, one king mackerel and one cobia.
Anglers on the Gulf Ranger with Capt. David Nettles landed a couple of king mackerel, a limit of red snapper and a lane snapper.
Conway, Ark., anglers on the Huntress with Capt. Mike Graef reeled in a limit of red snapper and king mackerel, and a cobia.
"We've got two days left in the derby," Capt. Graef said as he was getting ready to head back out for his second trip on Thursday.
It was all red across the board for Capt. Jason Hindman and his anglers on the Suzie Q.
The same was true for the rack behind the Gentle Winds. Capt. Greg Marler and his crew from Alabama got in on the huge snapper.
"The red snapper fishing has been good since I was 9," said the 49-year-old Marler.
On Thursday Marler took his crew to one of the reefs he built 20 years ago. "I only fish it two or three times a year and it always produces like that," he said, looking at the 15- to 18-pounders on the board.
Anglers on the Shock'n Ya'll with Capt. Neill Finkel reeled in a limit of king mackerel and a shark.
Capt. Ed Shields and his group on the Silver Lining hooked a limit of red snapper and three king mackerel.
Anglers on the Gulf Breeze with Capt. John Gibson had a mixed bag of red snapper, red grouper, mahi mahi, white snapper and mingo.
Oxford, Miss., anglers on the Un Reel with Capt. Phillip Blackburn brought in a big catch of red snapper and a cobia. Blackburn said they were fishing about 13 miles out.
"Some places are better than others. We try to pick some that hadn't been hammered," Blackburn said.
With the short season, boats have been running two and three trips a day, so some of the fishing spots are getting hit hard.
As a matter of fact, Capt. Chuck Turbanic of the Fifth Amendment said he's worked 40 hours in the last three days, doing two trips a day. As for catching a limit of red snapper?
"no problem," Turbanic said. "They are every where."
Red snapper filled the rack behind his boat, along with a few black snapper and a blackfin tuna pulled in by first-time angler Jillian Dunnon of Minnesota.
Capt. Robbie Broestler on the Fish-In-Daze came in with a good catch of red snapper, including one big red, black snapper and a Spanish mackerel. He said they were trolling live bait when they snagged the big red snapper. "I thought it was a cobia at first," he said, noting the way it was pulling. But it turned out to be a hungry snapper.
Wednesday was just as good as Thursday.
Capt. Ben O'Connor on the Locked Up had some big red snapper on the racks and three black snapper. Chuck Fattler, who posed for photos, was proud of his 20-plus pound snapper.
"We donít have these down there," he said in Bonita Springs, his hometown.
Texas anglers on the Reel Deal with Capt. Steve Pixley had a limit of red snapper.
Capt. Jason Mikel on the Backlash backed in with a limit of red snapper, six king mackerel and a cobia.
Arkansas, Atlanta and St. Louis anglers aboard the Game On with Capt. Eric Thrasher pulled in with some big red snapper, four king mackerel, and one Spanish mackerel.
Tennessee anglers on the Sunrisewith Capt. Kelly Windes filled the racks with some huge red snapper. "It was easy cheesey" pulling in the snapper, the deckhand said.
Arkansas and Georgia anglers on the Winter Wine with Capt. Billy Teems filled the racks with red and black snapper. Teems said they were fishing about 11 miles out. Word is the youngest on the boat caught the most fish.
Capt. Scott Robinson on the Stress Relief II came in with a limit of red snapper, a king mackerel and white snapper. "It was slick calm out today, not much current. I'm sorry Friday will be our last day," Robinson said. "It's sad in a way."
But before the final hours ticked down on federal season for snapper, Capt. Ken Bolden on the Just B Cause and his crew from St. Louis hauled in some huge snapper.
"With only a couple of days left, let's go get some of the big ones," Bolden said. However, he wasn't giving away any fishing spots or even types of bait.
Although red snapper season is over in federal waters, there are still plenty of other fish in the sea.
See you at the docks.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website here are some dates to remember for fish closures and openings.
Amberjack: Closed June 1-July 31, bag limit one per person.
Gag grouper: Open July 1-Dec. 3, two per person.
Red grouper: Open, four.
Dolphin: Open, 10.
King mackerel: Open, two.
Spanish mackerel: Open, 15.
Redfish: Open, two.
Sheepshead: Open, 15.
Black snapper: Open, 10.
Lane snapper: Open, 10.
Red snapper: Open June 1-July 14 in state waters, two.
Vermillion snapper (mingo): Open, 10.
Triggerfish: Closed June 1-July 31, two.
Trout: Open, five.
Wahoo: Open, two.