Anglers were on the hunt for red snapper, a popular reef fish. As the Thunderbird came to a stop Friday in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, anglers prepped their fishing rods and themselves for what could be a good day of fishing.
The weather was right, the sun was out and the waves measuring about 2 to 4 feet high slapped the boat as it rocked back and forth. For those who didn’t have their sea legs, this part of the trip was a little hard to manage. Captain Murphy’s Fishing Tours is doing brisk business these days with amateur anglers as well as the well-versed fisherman. For people who love to fish for red snapper, they have only about another month to catch this highly prized fish.
Under federal regulations, the snapper fishing season began June 1 and ran for nine days for private recreational fishing. However, for hired charter boats, the time limit is 46 days. But this charter trip wasn’t limited to red snapper. Anglers were catching a multitude of deep-sea dwelling fish. After everyone caught their snapper limit, they could catch anything in season, First Mate Roy Cagle said. Like all federally regulated recreational activities, there are limitations, especially on red snapper. The federal-water red snapper bag limit is two fish per person a day, with a 16-inch minimum. Cagle said there’s no point in keeping anything less than 20 inches.
At 7:30 a.m. on the dot, the Thunderbird set out for blue seas, heading about 25 miles out to a depth of 140 feet. The deeper the water, the better the catch, Cagle said. Because anglers have already picked state waters clean, that leaves the rest of the bigger snapper in federal waters, which is where the Thunderbird was headed.
“They’re untouched in federal waters so they have had the whole year to get big,” Cagle said. As soon as Captain Adam Ambriz dropped the anchor, Charlotte Beattie and Rebecca Anderson baited their hooks and dropped them down.
Both hoped to catch something — anything. “It’s going to be our dinner while we’re here,” Beattie said. Both women — Beattie from Austin and Anderson from Indiana — were on a short holiday and decided to seek some adventure.
“If I don’t catch anything, the experience is going to be worth it,” Beattie said. If guests caught something, they were encouraged to yell “fish on!”
Cagle, deckhand Landon Hardison and Ambriz all followed the yells and promptly helped the angler unhook their red snapper, which they then roped and hung on the side of the boat.
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