Red snapper season is on (PHOTOS)

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log
The Destin Log

From Tennessee to Missouri, families and friends were in town Monday to get in on the opening of red snapper season.

And the signature fish of the Emerald Coast – the red snapper – didn’t disappoint.

“The snapper were chewing today,” said Capt. Chris Kirby of the Backlash. “They are hungry.”

Kirby’s group of anglers were here from Birmingham, Alabama.

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The group from Alabama said they did a little research to see what they could catch before they made the trip to Destin.

Monday, June 1 marked the opening of red snapper season for federally permitted boats, which is the majority of the Destin charter boat fishing fleet. The season goes from June 1 through Aug. 1 with a bag limit of two per person and the fish must measure 16 inches to keep.

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However, the family from Alabama weren’t the only ones making plans for snapper season.

“We plan our trip for snapper every year,” said Tim Estes Jr. of Liberty, Missouri.

Estes and his buddies have been coming down for the red snapper season and fishing aboard the Sea Winder with Capt. Chris Couvillion for the past eight years.

Couvillion said the current was running pretty swift Monday, which made it little challenging, but “all in all it was a good day on the water.”

Estes and his buddies caught a 30-plus pound red snapper a couple of years ago with Couvillion, so they were gung-ho on going on opening day. There were no 30 pounders for them this time, but still plenty of red on the boards.

Not everybody that fished on Monday had their calendar set for opening day. For some it was a “last minute” decision to hop on one of Destin’s charters.

But they were not disappointed as the majority of the boats that fished Monday had no problem catching their limit of red snapper.

“Day 1 was easy,” said Capt. Stan Phillips of the Destination, who came in with a rack full of red snapper all in the 10- to 12-pound range. His anglers, from Tennessee, had been in town a week when they heard about opening day for red snapper and decided to book the trip.

But it wasn’t just out-of-towners getting in on the long-awaited opening day for red snapper.

Local angler Tom Milliren said he booked his trip aboard the Backdown 2 with Capt. Phillip Blackburn with full intentions of catching a snapper.

And Milliren got what he went for, landing a 25-pound snapper, his first snapper of the day.

The majority of Destin’s charter boats had trips on Monday, some even two.

As for the private recreational boats and the state for-hire boats, they will get their chance at catching a red snapper in state and federal waters starting June 11 and going through July 25. The bag and size limits are the same as for the federally permitted charters.