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.
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.
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.
Updated on December 6, 2022
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