One of the most highly regulated fish off the coast of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia is the red snapper. Red snapper is a great game fish in addition to the challenging battle when it is hooked on the end of the line. With all of the regulations, how do you catch red snapper?

Why is red snapper so highly regulated?

Red snapper fish is so highly regulated because it has been grossly overfished through the years. The fish species was significantly overfished, thus resulting in low populations and rigid regulations. The regulations are in place to help protect an important fish in the ecosystem. It is vital to follow the rules to ensure the red snapper population rebounds. 

How to determine the open season and bag limits for red snapper?

The size and bag limit may vary by state. Check with the local listings. The season is so highly regulated that it may be less than a week-long and enforce a one-fish limit per angler. The great thing about red snapper is that the fillets yield a significant amount of meat. When the season opens, anglers need to be ready to head offshore. 

Where do you catch red snappers?

When you’re in search of red snapper, be prepared to make long runs offshore. This type of fish is not going to be found inshore like many other popular gamefish. Red Snapper lurk deep in the water column on artificial reefs and wrecks. 

Many choose to hire a guide service during red snapper season because they do not own a boat or a large enough vessel to make the long runs. If you’re going to hire a captain, do it well ahead of time.

For the boat owner, understand that the reefs and wrecks are far offshore. The fishing grounds are typically 30-60 miles offshore in around 60-150 feet of water. A twin-engine craft is ideal, and make sure the weather is right and that you have plenty of fuel onboard. 

What type of bait does a red snapper eat?

Red Snapper eat a variety of bait. Keep in mind that you are fishing the bottom, so snags may be a common occurrence. Here is a list of some of the most popular baits:

Dead Baits


Bonito Strips


Live Baits


Cigar Minnow



What type of gear is needed to catch red snapper?

Red snapper is deep in the water column, and they can be very large. Bring along gear that is stout enough to battle these creatures to the surface. Heavy spinning reels or conventional reels are perfect when matched with stiff rods. Although red snapper is commonly found between 3-6 pounds, be prepared for a battle that will drop you to the gunnel. 

Many of the red snapper caught during the season exceeds 3-6 pounds. Reels should be spooled with fresh line to avoid breakage, and they should be in good working condition. The rods will get a workout as well. Avoid broken eyes or abrasions to keep the line from fraying and snapping. 

What type of rig should be used to catch red snapper?

Consider how strong a fight red snapper put up, 50-80 pound test line is necessary.  When it comes to hooks, 7/0 to 14/0 are ideal, depending on the bait. If you’re fishing a large bait, scale the hook up in size.

Bring along enough weight to hold the bottom and enough replacements if you become snagged and lose the rig. Sixty miles back home to pick up more gear is out of the question. Come prepared.

Red Snapper can quickly become weary of terminal tackle. Tie a twenty-foot leader line beyond a swivel with a weight on the mainline. This will keep the red snapper from becoming skittish. 

Conclusion- Red snapper fishing

When it comes to heading offshore to catch red snapper, the key is to be prepared in advance. The season comes and goes within short order, so be sure to have your license, boat or charter, gear, and a group of friends or family ready to head out on the adventure. The season is short, but the bite is hot when North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia open the season. Be ready to head offshore for one of the best-tasting fish in the ocean.