The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has decided to increase the recreational bag limit for red drum or redfish in the northeast and northwest portions of the state, citing what it calls “successful red drum management.”
The change, approved at a November 16 FWC meeting, will take effect on February 1, 2012. The rule change will include the following:
• Create three management areas for red drum (the northwest, the northeast and the south) instead of one statewide management area.
• Increase the number of redfish that a recreational fisherman can take per day in the northeast and northwest regions of the state from one to two red drum.
• Establish a statewide vessel limit of eight red drum.
• Limit the number of red drum that can be transported on land to six red drum per person.
Other recreational red drum rules will remain the same, including a slot limit of 18 to 27 inches and a one-red-drum bag limit in the southern part of the state.
According to FWC, these rule changes are the result of a successful management strategy that began in 1989, when the species was considered severely overfished. Redfish have seen incredible population growth since Florida banned gill nets. Many anglers target drum in all portions of the state and this species is considered a prized game fish on light tackle and fly.
“This is our version of having a listed protected species and being able to take it off that list. This is a success story,” said Commissioner Brian Yablonski about the increased recreational fishing opportunity. “If ever there was a moment to give back, this is it.”
A 2009-10 red drum stock assessment completed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute showed that red drum escapement rates (the proportion of fish surviving through age four relative to the number that would have survived to that age if there were no fishery) have been consistently above the FWC’s 40-percent management goal in the northern regions of the state.
Florida Ups Red Drum Limit