Recreational Red Snapper Season 2023

Man holds fishing pole in boat off shore

Season Dates

NOAA Fisheries is opening federal waters in the Southeast, including Georgia, for recreational harvest of Red Snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) on two days in 2023:

  • The recreational sector will open for harvest on the following 2 days:
    • July 14 and 15, 2023 (Friday and Saturday) – The recreational season opens at 12:01 a.m., local time, on July 14, 2023, and closes at 12:01 a.m., local time, on July 16, 2023.
  • The commercial sector will open for harvest at 12:01 a.m., local time, on July 10, 2023, and will close at 12:01 a.m., local time, on January 1, 2024, unless the commercial annual catch limit is met or projected to be met before this date.
  • If the commercial sector closes before 12:01 a.m., local time, on January 1, 2024, NOAA Fisheries will announce it in the Federal Register and publish another Fishery Bulletin.

About Red Snapper

Illustration of Red Snapper


Red Snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) is a fish native to Georgia's waters that can be found from South Florida to New Jersey.


  • Body is pinkish-red in color, fading to white belly
  • Canine teeth are present but less prominent than those of the Gray or Mutton Snapper
  • The eye is red and the anal fin triangular, long triangular snout


  • Common up to 10 pounds. frequently grow larger
  • Georgia's men's state record for Red Snapper is 37 pounds, 8 ounces, caught in 1988 by Bill Shearin, Jr., off the coast of Savannah.  
  • Georgia's women's state record for Red Snapper is 29 pounds, 8 ounces, caught in 1989 by Phyllis Thompson, off the coast of Savannah.

Age to maturity:

  • By two years
  • Can live longer than 20 years
  • Spawning occurs from June to October


  • Adults are found over rocky bottoms offshore in waters 100-200 feet
  • Juveniles inhabit shallow waters, common over sand or muddy bottoms
  • Feeds on crustaceans and fish

Angling Information

Bait and Tackle: 

  • Dead minnows or Pilchards or cut fish and squid will sometimes work but more often, live small baitfish are needed
  • In shallower waters light ocean tackle of heavy spinning and baitcasting tackle will be fine but in deeper waters, very heavy rods with strong lines of 50-80 pound test are needed
  • Click here for best practices and other tips for Red Snapper fishing
  • Descending devices are required to be rigged and ready to use onboard vessels targeting snapper-grouper species


  • Adults are found over rocky bottoms offshore in waters 100-200 feet
  • Juveniles inhabit shallow waters, common over sand or muddy bottoms
  • Georgia's artificial reefs are an excellent place to target Red Snapper. Visit for a complete list of Georgia's artificial reefs.

Fishing Method: 

  • Casting
  • Still fishing
  • Drifting

Food Value: 

  • Excellent

Recreational Regulations

When the federal season is open, recreational regulations are as follows:

  • One red snapper per person, per day
  • No size restrictions
  • Since July 15, 2020, descending devices are required to be rigged and ready to use onboard private recreational, for-hire and commercial vessels when targeting snapper-grouper species in federal waters in the South Atlantic
  • Must be landed with the head and fins intact
  • Recreational and commercial fishermen are required to use dehooking tools when fishing for snapper-grouper species
  • The use of non-stainless steel circle hooks (offset or non-offset) is required for all species in the snapper-grouper complex when using hook-and-line gear with natural baits in waters north of the 28 degree north latitude. (Note: All of Georgia is north of the 28 degree north latitude. The line is roughly near Tampa, Fla., extending east-west)
  • The sale of bag-limit caught snapper-grouper species is prohibited

Descending Devices

Since July 15, 2020, NOAA Fisheries requires anglers targeting snapper-grouper species, including Red Snapper, to have descending devices rigged and ready to use onboard the vessel. Descending devices help reduce discard mortality in fish.

When an angler reels in a Red Snapper quickly from more than 30 feet, the fish may experience a syndrome known as barotrauma. This syndrome causes the fish's swim bladder to expand too rapidly, which can result in its internal organs bulging out of the fish's mouth. If the fish is discarded and returned to water, it will be unable to swim back down to depth, and is frequently subject to predation. 

Descending devices can help reduce barotrauma by rapidly sending the fish back down to the depth at which it was caught. Returning to proper depth will reduce the effects of barotrauma and greatly increase its chance of survival. 

For more information about descending devices, visit

Citizen Science - Carcass Recovery Project

Coastal Resources Division takes advantage of the fishing efforts of hundreds of anglers by turning filleted fish carcasses that anglers would normally discard into a source of much-needed data on Georgia’s marine sportfish.

You can help us better understand the health of Red Snapper populations by donating the carcass after filleting the fish. We will use the carcass to remove its ear bones, which tell us the age of the fish, and we will also determine the sex and other characteristics that help in future fishery management.

Donate your Red Snapper carcasses at freezers found at the following locations:

Freezer Location  Address  City  Phone
Bull River Marina 8005 Hwy 80 East Savannah (912) 897-7300
Savannah Boathouse Marina 8020 Hwy 80 East Savannah (912) 777-8567
Landings Yacht Club 1 Marina Dr  Savannah (912) 598-1901
Hogan's Marina 36 Wilmington Island Rd  Savannah (912) 897-3474
Bahia Blue Marina 2812 River Dr  Thunderbolt (912) 354-2283
Savannah Bend Marina 188 Old Tybee Road Thunderbolt (912) 897-3625
Fort McAllister Marina 3203 Fort McAllister Rd  Richmond Hill (912) 727-2632
Halfmoon Marina 171 Azalea Road  Midway (912) 884-5819
Shellman Bluff Fish Camp 1058 River Rd NE Townsend (912) 832-4331
GADNR WRD Fisheries Office 108 Darling Ave Waycross (912) 285-6094
Two-Way Fish Camp 250 Ricefield Way  Brunswick (912) 265-0410
Blue N Hall Marina  1510 Blue N Hall Rd Darien (912) 437-4677
Morningstar Marinas Golden Isles 206 Marina Drive St. Simons Island (912) 480-0266
St. Simons Fishing Club 1000 Arthur J. Moore Drive St. Simons Island (912) 638 9146
Hickory Bluff Marina 307 Hickory Bluff Drive Waverly (912) 262-0453
Buccaneers Bait & Tackle 290 East Meeting St. St. Marys (912) 882-6277
(updated 7/5/2023)      

For more information about the Marine Sportfish Carcass Recovery Project, visit


For more information specifically about red snapper data collection, visit

Other important links

Press release (May 23, 2023): "NOAA Fisheries Announces Limited Openings of Recreational and Commercial Red Snapper Seasons in South Atlantic Federal Waters"

Red snapper regulations from South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council

Best practices for Red Snapper fishing

Contact Us

If you have more questions about Red Snapper, the seasonal opening or descending devices, contact Kathy Knowlton at or call 912-262-3122.