Updated on August 22, 2022
Redfish or red drum can be found in the inshore waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico where they have become one of the most popular game fish. These beautiful fish generally have gold to red streamlined bodies with a distinct black spot on their tail but multiple spots are also not uncommon.
In the 1970s and 80s’ red drum were commercially harvested and were not a protected game fish which ultimately led to overfishing resulting in smaller and fewer fish. With the elimination of commercial fishing and the addition of strict bag limits redfish have been able to recover.
The Florida Wildlife Commission approved new regulations during their meeting in July. The new redfish regulations will take effect September 1, 2022 and completely change how redfish are managed across the state. The new regulations prohibit captains and crew from being included in the total bag limit of redfish when on a for-hire trip. The FWC also has reduced the personal transport limit to four fish per person. Previously, redfish were divided into three zones: Northwest, South, and Northeast. Moving forward, the Florida Wildlife Commission has established nine redfish management regions which are Panhandle, Big Bend, Tampa Bay, Sarasota Bay, Charlotte Harbor, Southwest, Southeast, Indian River Lagoon, and Northeast.
Many of the changes made to the Florida redfish regulations were establishing bag limits in the newly defined regions. Fishing for redfish in the Indian River Lagoon region will be catch-and-release only. The daily bag limit in the other eight regions will be one fish per person. The new redfish regulations also reduce the vessel limit to four fish in the Panhandle, Big Bend, and Northeast regions, and two fish in Tampa Bay, Sarasota Bay, Charlotte Harbor, Southwest, and Southeast regions.
Red drum do not have an open season in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico or The Atlantic, and the harvest of redfish is strictly prohibited. In most state waters, redfish have no closed season and can be harvested year-round within the bag limits set by each state. Redfish can be caught throughout the year but the best time of year to catch a giant bull redfish is from late summer through the fall but will vary depending on your specific location.
There is no closed season for redfish in Florida so they are open to harvest year-round. Redfish restrictions vary by location in Florida so it is important to know where you plan to fish and what regulations apply. For the entire state, redfish must be between 18” and 27” in length to be harvested.
Until the September 1, 2022 the current regulations will still apply. The daily bag limits are two fish per person or eight per vessel in the northeast zone, and one fish per person or eight fish per vessel in the northwest and south zones. Some areas have special restrictions and it’s important to check the regulations before you hit the water.