News: Snook and redfish are catch-and-release only in areas affected by red tide through May 10, 2019. Learn more.

Red Drum

Red Drum: Sciaenops ocellatus


Florida Regulations: (Harvest in federal waters prohibited)

RegulationsNortheast ZoneNorthwest ZoneSouth Zone
Minimum Size Limit Not less than 18" no more than 27" total length  
Daily Bag Limit 2 fish per person per day; 8 fish vessel limit

1 per person per day; 8 fish vessel limit

All state waters from the Pasco/Hernando county line through Gordon Pass in Collier County is catch-and-release ONLY through May 10, 2019

1 fish per person per day; 8 fish vessel limit

All state waters from the Pasco/Hernando county line through Gordon Pass in Collier County is catch-and-release ONLY through May 10, 2019


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: Spearing (includes spearfishing, gigging and bowfishing) and/or use of multiple hooks in conjunction with live or dead natural bait is prohibited


Red Drum Management Zones


red drum management zones map

  • 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: Flagler through Nassau counties


State Waters Harvest Seasons


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: Red Drum Sea Stat


State Record:

52 lb 5 oz, caught near Cocoa (1996)

Florida Rule icon_external.png

Also visit:

Redfish Catch, Hold and Release Tournament Exemption Permit pageNot a Mobile-Enabled Link

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. 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.




FWC Facts:
Numerous marine species, like blue crabs, redfish, white shrimp, stingrays, tarpon, are found more than 100 miles upstream in the freshwater portions of the St. Johns River.

Learn More at AskFWC