By Fred Garth

The red snapper, a fish we love to catch and eat, has caused as much political wrangling, meetings of powerful people, controversial news stories and wadded up panties than the bungled mess in the Middle East. After the feds announced a paltry nine-day season from June 1-10, the angling masses revolted. The gulf states had already defied the feds and created their own extended seasons and in the case of Mississippi, pushed the state’s territorial waters from three to nine miles – even though federal officials don’t recognize the new border.   

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I have my own beef with the whole thing. Come June 1, the boat traffic ripping out into the gulf was something akin to an armada. Before sunrise I heard the roar of boat engines passing my house headed for the promise land. I skipped work on Friday the 4th and went out with a big crew. The weekend was insane. So many boats were scattered out there I’m sure a Google Earth image looked like someone had spilled the salt shaker.

But I’m mostly fine with all that. Getting on the water and yanking dinner off the reef is what it’s all about. And I don’t know how many fish were caught but every dock I passed was like a fillet demonstration. A few guys would be out there with sharp knives flashing and slicing. We did the same and we ate the fabulous pinkish fillets with gusto.

 My problem came on Sunday afternoon, June 7th, as I cruised along the inland waterways passing all of those big waterfront homes and had to dodge countless floating snapper carcasses that folks had just tossed off the dock after the tasty fillets had been carved off. Sure, the backbone and head is good fish food and the pinfish will consume them in a few days but I was afraid I was gonna scar my hull or worse yet, bend a prop blade. The waterways looked like there had been a war on snapper. Well, truth is, there had.

When you only have nine days to fish for an icon, it turns into a full scale bloodbath.

Some people obviously don’t know that the eyes are what float. If you puncture the eyeballs, the fish will sink harmlessly. I’m just glad I’m not 15 years old and barefoot skiing anymore or I’d have a snapper spine lodged up to my knee bone.

The short snapper season has caused a lot of weirdness and a mass of floating snapper corpses is just another one. It’s getting to be too much. There has to be a better solution than this.

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