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In the 1970s and '80s, red drum were commercially harvested and were not a protected game fish. This 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.
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 on redfish are also not uncommon.
There is no closed season for redfish in Florida, which makes them legal to catch year-round. While redfish are abundant throughout the year, the best time to catch them is in the fall.
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.
The Florida red drum regulations establish the limits for the newly defined regions as follows:
The redfish restrictions vary by region in Florida, so it is important to know where you are fishing and what regulations apply. For the entire state where redfish are legal to harvest, the slot limit is set at 18 to 27 inches. Some areas have special restrictions and it’s important to check the regulations before you hit the water.
The Florida Wildlife Commission approved new regulations during their meeting in July of 2022. The new redfish regulations went into effect September 1, 2022 and completely changed how redfish are managed across the state.
The new regulations prohibit captains and crew from being included in the total bag limit of red drum 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), but the Florida Wildlife Commission has established nine red drum management regions which are Panhandle, Big Bend, Tampa Bay, Sarasota Bay, Charlotte Harbor, Southwest, Southeast, Indian River Lagoon, and Northeast.
While redfish are a popular game fish found throughout Florida's coastal waters, here are a few of the most popular destinations to catch redfish in Florida:
Tampa Bay, known for it's beautiful scenery and diverse wildlife, is a great location to catch redfish in Florida. The bay is home to a healthy population of redfish, and anglers can find them in the shallow flats, around oyster bars, and near mangrove islands.
Some of the best spots include Weedon Island, Fort De Soto Park, and the flats around St. Petersburg. These areas offer a variety of fishing opportunities, including wading in shallow waters, fishing from the shore, or fishing from a boat.
Redfish can be found year-round in Tampa, with peak fishing occurring during the fall months. Tampa Bay's ecosystem is home to a diverse range of baitfish, crabs, and shrimp, which make for excellent prey for redfish. The shallow waters and abundant vegetation in Tampa Bay require a skilled approach to fishing, including the use of lures and bait that mimic the local prey, so booking a local fishing guide is encouraged for new travelers to the area or beginner anglers. Browse our Tampa Fishing Charters below to start planning your next trip to Tampa Bay.
Fishing for redfish in Destin, Florida can be an exciting and rewarding experience for anglers of all skill levels. Destin is known for its crystal-clear waters and abundant redfish population, which can be found in the bays, estuaries, and nearshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf offers plenty of opportunities to target these fish, especially during the fall when they migrate in large schools along the beaches and nearshore waters. The area around the jetties, near the East Pass, is particularly productive.
There are tons of skilled guides in the area who know the hotspots and will put you on the redfish action — start your search below!
Fishing for redfish in Panama City Beach is a must-try experience for any angler looking for a challenging and exciting catch. One of the best places to catch redfish in Panama City Beach is in the St. Andrew Bay area, which is home to a variety of different species of fish. The bay is connected to the Gulf of Mexico, allowing for a diverse range of fish to be caught in the area. Anglers can find redfish in the shallow waters around the bay, as well as in deeper channels and inlets.
The beaches and inlets around Panama City Beach are also great spots to catch redfish. The white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters provide a beautiful backdrop for a day of fishing, and the abundance of redfish in the area ensures that anglers have a good chance of making a catch.
With so many great spots to fish and such a large population of redfish in the area, it's no wonder that this location has become a popular destination for anglers from all over the world.
Fishing for redfish in Key West is a popular activity that attracts anglers from all over the world. Reds are commonly found in the shallow waters around Key West, making them accessible to both novice and experienced fishermen.
One of the best places to catch redfish in Key West is the backcountry waters of the Lower Keys, including the Gulf of Mexico and the shallow flats of the Atlantic Ocean. These waters are filled with mangrove islands, tidal creeks, and grass flats, which provide the perfect habitat for redfish. Anglers can also target redfish in the channels and cuts around Key West, where the fish often gather to feed. Redfish can be caught year-round in Key West, but the best time to target them is in the fall when they are more active and aggressive.
Book a key West fishing charter today to get in on the redfish action (along with an abundance of other species like tarpon, bonefish, and permit), and enjoy the picturesque scenery of the Florida Keys while you're at it.
Updated on August 2, 2023
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