Bay County fisherman are celebrating as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Friday that Red Snapper season will be extended due to bad weather in the last few weeks. More good news for fisherman…that extension overlaps with Gag Grouper season, set to open on Sunday.
The only things docked at Captain Anderson's Marina Friday afternoon were Pelicans as almost all of the charter fishermen were out on trips, on course to catch the popular Red Snapper.
"He put us on the fish and we were able to get our limits, so it was great," said tourist Phillip Gross.
Even if they are difficult to reel in for Phillip's son, Luke.
"You think it's easier but it's not that easy, because when you catch little fish it's kind of hard for kids my age," Luke said.
But for this father-son duo and their family, Red Snapper is what hooks them in and what keeps them coming back each year.
"It was my most fun year because I didn't get seasick, because all of the other years I did," Luke added.
But their captain, 43-year old fisherman Hank Hunt, says the opening of Gag Grouper season, overlapping with Red Snapper season will be like bait when reeling in even more tourists.
"Those are the two primary fish that people that go fishing on charter boats and party boats want to catch," Captain Hunk said.
Hunt and other fisherman petitioned with state lawmakers to extend Red Snapper season since bad weather in June, cut the short 40 day season, even shorter.
"It's like taking thousands of dollars out of your pocket," Hunt added.
"Most people on average have lost about 25% percent of their season and that is quite a bit," said Pam Anderson, Operations Manager at Captain Anderson's Marina.
But now that NOAA has extended the season, hopefully that lost money will come back with the tide of tourists that are already booking their second trip.
With the extension, Red Snapper season will last through July 17th and Gag Grouper season through October 31st.