2016 Red Drum Fishery Management 

saltwater drum red

Red Drum: Sciaenops ocellatus


Florida Regulations: (Harvest in federal waters prohibited)

Regulations Northeast Zone Northwest Zone South 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 1 fish per person per day; 8 fish vessel limit

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


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. 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 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.)




FWC Facts:
Icthyomaniacs are people who are crazy about fish.

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