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Red Drum: Sciaenops ocellatus
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    Florida Regulations:

    Remarks (for all zones):
  • Bag limits apply in areas adjacent to fishing sites such as docks and parking lots
  • 6 fish per person transport limit applies when traveling in a vehicle on land away from a
    fishing site.
  • Must remain in whole condition until landed ashore
  • Commercial harvest prohibited

    Gear requirements:

  • Legal Gear:  hook and line, cast nets
  • Illegal Gear: Gigging, snatching, spearing and/or use of multiple hooks in conjunction with
    live or dead natural bait is prohibited

    Red Drum Management Zones

    Northwest: Escambia through Fred Howard Park Causeway near Pasco County
    South: Fred Howard Park Causeway through Monroe County (west coast) and Miami-Dade
    through Volusia counties (east coast)
    Northeast: Nassau through Flagler counties

    Habitat and Fishing Tips:

    Red drum, also called redfish, channel bass, spottail, red bass or reds, are one of Florida’
    s most popular sport fish and the state’s most widespread estuarine fish. Red drum are
    named after the "drumming" sound the make during spawning and when taken out of the
    water. The sound is produced by muscles rubbing against the inflated air bladder. Red
    drum inhabit the nearshore and offshore waters throughout the Gulf of Mexico and along
    the Atlantic coast from Massachusetts to Key West. Juvenile red drum inhabit rivers, bays,
    canals, tidal creeks, and passes in estuaries for up to four years, after which they usually
    move to nearshore or open ocean waters as adults. Red drum in Florida can reach lengths
    of 45 inches and weigh up to 51 pounds. The world record red drum was caught off North
    Carolina waters in 1984 and it weighed 94 pounds, 2 ounces.The oldest recorded red
    drum in Florida was aged at 40 years. Floating a live shrimp under a popping cork is a
    good way to fish for red drum. They also chase crabs, mullet, pinfish and killifish (mud
    minnows). Casting soft-bodied jigs, spoons and even top-water plugs will catch the
    attention of these powerful estuarine musicians. Redfish make great table fare. Learn
    more about red drum biology:

    State Record:

    52 lb 5 oz, caught near Cocoa (1996)

    Participate in a Florida Grand Slam

    The Grand Slam Club celebrates the variety of Florida sport fishes and the achievement of
    anglers catching a particular set of three species in one day.  There is a different slam
    inspired by fish caught in each of the state's four geographic regions, and red drum is
    included in three of them. (Note: Though named after regions, Grand Slams are not region
    based. You do not have to be in the region listed to acheive that regions Grand Slam. For
    example, you can get a North Florida Grand Slam while fishing in South Florida, so long as
    you catch all three North Florida species of fish in a 24 hour period.)

    Regional grand slam fishes

    North Florida- Red drum, spotted seatrout, and cobia
    West Coast- Red drum, snook, and tarpon
    East Coast- Red drum, spotted seatrout, and tarpon
    South Florida- Tarpon, bonefish, and permit

    The Grand Slam program is conducted in collaboration with the International Game Fish
    Association (IGFA) and requires anglers to fill out an application.  For more information on
    this program, visit the Grand Slam and Fishing Records page.

    Red Drum Management

    Management of red drum in Florida is considered a success story.  In the late 1980s red
    drum was overfished, thus several emergency closures were established to reduce fishing
    pressure. In 1989, the slot limit of 18-27 inches, the bag limit of one fish per person and a
    closed season from March-May were put in place. Since then, the only major regulation
    change has been the elimination of the closed season. Red drum stocks have rebounded
    and are currently meeting or exceeding the FWC's management goal of 40% escapement
    in most parts of Florida. Escapement is the proportion of fish that survive through age four
    relative to the fish that would have survived if there was no fishery.

    Recent Red Drum Commission Meeting History

    At the Commission meeting in June 2007, staff presented management options resulting
    from the 2005 red drum stock assessment. The Commission voted to change the
    escapement rate goal, from 30 to 40% largely because of stakeholder input that called for
    managing the fishery for an abundance of larger fish. After this meeting, staff
    recommended to wait on any further management changes until the 2008 stock
    assessment was completed. At the Commission meeting in June 2009, staff presented
    the results of the statewide 2008 red drum stock assessment. The Commission directed
    staff to re-evaluate the stock assessment by looking at four management areas. At the
    Commission meeting in Sept. 2010, staff returned with the results of the regional analysis
    of the 2008 stock assessment. Staff presented recommendations to create three
    management areas and to raise the bag limit to two fish in the two northern areas. Staff
    were directed to hold public workshops to present management options and also to
    consider a vessel limit. In Feb. 2011, staff presented a draft rule with proposed rules for red
    drum and a summary of public input on the proposed rules. FWC staff presented these
    proposed rules for the final public hearing at the April 2011. The Commissioners ruled to
    postpone a decision on these rule modifications until the Nov. 2011 Commission meeting,
    following the red drum stock assessment report due in fall 2011. At the Nov. 16, 2011,
    Commission meeting, FWC Commissioners approved the following new regulations for
    red drum effective Feb. 1, 2012:

  • "Northeast region," "Northwest region" and "South region" were created
  • Bag limit will increased from 1 fish to 2 fish in the Northeast and Northwest regions
  • These bag limits will also apply on land in the areas adjacent to the fishing site
    (such as adjacent parking lots, docks, piers, bridges, beaches and boat ramps) in
    all regions
  • Statewide vessel limit of 8 red drum applies to all vessels on state waters
  • Transport possession limit of 6 red drum per person (applies statewide when red
    drum are being tranported on land in Florida. For example, the transport
    possession limit would apply when transporting red drum from the fishing site to a
    private home in one's vehicle.)

    Image Credit: Diane Rome Peebles

    Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission • Farris Bryant Building
    620 S. Meridian St. • Tallahassee, FL
    32399-1600 • (850) 488-4676
South Zone
Northeast and Northwest Zones
  Not less than 18" no more than 27" total
Not less than 18" no more than 27"
total length  
Daily Bag Limit
1 fish per person per day; 8 fish vessel limit
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