Redfish Regulations by State

December 27, 2023
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Explore redfish regulations with our comprehensive guide. Learn about the crucial state and federal laws, effective fishing techniques, and the importance of conservation to ensure the sustainability of this prized species. Perfect for anglers eager to responsibly enjoy the thrill of redfish fishing.

Summary Table

  • Catching Redfish: Learn the characteristics, habitat, baits, lures and fishing techniques
  • Federal Redfish Regulations: Overview of U.S. federal guidelines.
  • State Redfish Regulations: Detailed information for Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia.
  • Fishing Techniques: Tips on how to catch redfish, including redfish rigs, lures, and baits.
  • Conservation Efforts: Importance of regulations for sustainability.

Understanding Federal Redfish Regulations

Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, redfish or red drum are notably protected in federal waters, which spans from 3 to 200 nautical miles offshore. This crucial legislation prohibits the harvest of redfish in these areas. However, within state waters, where the rules of the ocean play differently, regulations vary considerably, encompassing aspects like size limits, bag limits, and permissible fishing methods.

When we dive into the realm of federal redfish fishing regulations in the United States, we find ourselves navigating a sea of diverse rules that differ based on the region and the type of fishing. Let's embark on a journey through some of these main rules:

  • In the coastal embrace of state waters, extending from the shore to a modest 3 nautical miles offshore, each state unfurls its own tapestry of regulations for redfish fishing. These regulations intricately detail size limits, bag limits, seasons, and gear restrictions, painting a picture as varied as the states themselves.

Take, for instance, the great state of Texas. Here, the daily bag limit for redfish, also known as bull redfish, stands at 3 per person. The size is carefully regulated, with a minimum of 20 inches and a maximum of 28 inches. Notably, Texas harbors no closed season for redfish, offering anglers the freedom to pursue these elusive creatures year-round using any legal means or method. This flexibility makes Texas a prime destination for those pondering how to catch redfish.

Florida, with its sun-kissed shores, offers a different approach. The daily bag limit for redfish here is set at 1 per person, with a strict slot limit ranging from 18 to 27 inches. Florida's redfish season is open throughout the year, except for a temporary closure in certain areas affected by red tide. Notably, Florida mandates the use of hook and line only for catching redfish, making it an ideal playground for those experimenting with various redfish rigs, redfish lures, and redfish baits.

For the adventurous souls seeking to fish recreationally from a charter boat or headboat, often referred to as for-hire fishing, there are additional rules to consider. For instance, in the bountiful waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the season for red snapper (a distinct species from red drum) is determined annually by NOAA Fisheries based on the available quota. In 2023, the for-hire fishing season for red snapper was earmarked from June 1 to August 3.

These federal and state regulations only skim the surface of the vast ocean of rules governing redfish fishing in the United States. For the most current and detailed information, it's always best to visit the websites of NOAA Fisheries and the respective state fish and wildlife agencies.

These are just some of the federal and state regulations for redfish fishing in the United States. For more information, please visit the websites of NOAA Fisheries and the state fish and wildlife agencies. I hope this helps you plan your next fishing trip

State Specific Regulations: A Closer Look

In the vast and varied expanse of the redfish's domain, stretching from the sun-baked shores of Texas to the misty coastlines of Virginia, each state stands as a guardian of its own aquatic frontier. In this intricate tapestry, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia each weave their own set of rules, as unique and diverse as the waters they oversee.

The Role of Conservation in Redfish Fishing

The diverse regulations across states reflect a commitment to maintaining sustainable redfish populations. These rules are not only meant to provide optimum yields for recreational anglers but also to prevent overfishing and ensure the longevity of the species.


According to the diligent stewards at the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, the edicts governing the noble pursuit of the redfish, also known by the distinguished title of red drum, are laid down as follows:

  • A redfish, in its journey through the Texan waters, must measure a proud 20 inches at the least, but dare not exceed the grand length of 28 inches, to be deemed worthy of harvest. This decree, known among anglers as the slot limit, ensures both the vigor and sustainability of the species.
  • The daily bounty for each seeker of redfish is set at a triumvirate; no more than three redfish per person may be claimed from the vast Texan seas each day.
  • In the span of a license year, an angler may lay claim to one red drum surpassing the maximum length, provided it is honored with a Red Drum Tag, properly completed in all its formal glory. Furthermore, a second leviathan of the deep, also exceeding the prescribed length, may be rightfully claimed under the auspices of a Bonus Red Drum Tag, equally completed with due diligence. These exceptional specimens, when claimed under the authority of these tags, may be proudly added to one's daily bag and possession limit, as stated in this section.
  • In a nod to the digital age, these tags must be reported using the My Texas Hunt Harvest (MTTH) mobile or online app. This modern twist allows for the digital affirmation of one's catch, replacing the traditional physical affixation of tags.
Thus, these are the laws set forth by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, guiding those who seek to engage with the illustrious red drum in a dance as old as time itself, ensuring that both fish and fisher may thrive in harmony.


The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries sets forth its edicts for engaging with the redfish, or red drum, as follows:

  • In the waters of Louisiana, a redfish must attain a noble length of at least 16 inches, yet must not exceed the majestic span of 27 inches, to be deemed fit for harvest. This careful measurement ensures the species' continuity and the angler's honor.
  • The bounty of the sea, as per these rules, permits a daily bag limit of 5 fish per intrepid angler.
  • Within this daily quota, the laws of Louisiana graciously allow for one redfish to surpass the established slot limit, a testament to the angler's skill and fortune.
  • For those who embrace the saltwater's call, there exists a provision to possess a two-day’s bag limit of red drum upon the land. Yet, in the spirit of conservation and fairness, no individual may possess more than the daily bag limit in any single day or during the act of fishing, or while navigating the waters. The exception to this rule is for the hardy souls aboard a trawler engaged in the noble act of commercial fishing for a continuous period extending beyond 25 hours.
  • In the vast federal waters, the take or possession of red drum stands as a prohibited act, a decree to safeguard the species beyond state boundaries.
  • For those seeking further enlightenment or clarity on these regulations, the official website of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries stands as a beacon of knowledge, ready to guide and inform.
  • Thus, these are the decrees set forth by Louisiana, a state wise in its stewardship of the aquatic realms, ensuring that the red drum thrives and the angler respects the delicate balance of this underwater world.
For more information, you can check the official website of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.


The Mississippi regulations for the pursuit and harvest of redfish unfold as follows:

  • To ensure the balance of nature and sport, Mississippi mandates that a redfish must measure a minimum of 18 inches and may grow no larger than 30 inches to be considered a legal prize. This careful stipulation ensures the vitality of the species and the integrity of the sport.
  • The daily bag limit, set with a keen eye on conservation and sportsmanship, allows for 3 redfish per person. This rule is a constant reminder of the responsibility each angler bears towards the aquatic world.
  • In a gesture that honors the skill and patience of recreational anglers, Mississippi graciously permits the retention of one redfish exceeding 30 inches each year. This singular allowance is a nod to the exceptionalism that occasionally graces the fishing line, a rare trophy in the angler's quest.
These regulations, set forth by Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, reflect a profound understanding of the delicate dance between human endeavor and the rhythms of the natural world. They serve not only as guidelines for the sport but as a testament to the respect and reverence for the marine life that characterizes the spirit of responsible angling.


The state of Alabama sets forth its regulations for redfish, combining the wisdom of conservation with the thrill of the chase:

  • In Alabama, the pursuit of redfish, those crimson denizens of the deep, knows no seasonal bounds. The state, in its wisdom, declares no closed season for redfish, thus allowing anglers to seek these prized creatures year-round, in a timeless dance of human and nature.
  • The redfish, to be deemed worthy of retention in Alabama's waters, must navigate the measure of length with precision. They must be no less than 16 inches and no more than 26 inches. This range, known among anglers as the slot limit, is a testament to Alabama's commitment to sustainable fishing practices.
  • The daily bag limit, a rule set to ensure both sport and conservation, is fixed at 3 fish per person per day. Of this trio, only one may claim the honor of surpassing the 26-inch mark, a rule that speaks to the rare and valued nature of the larger redfish.
  • In a declaration of respect and protection, Alabama designates the redfish as a game fish. This status means that any redfish caught within the state's waters are to be cherished as sport, not commerce, and thus cannot be bought or sold.
  • To engage in this noble pursuit, Alabama mandates that each angler must be armed not just with rod and reel, but with a valid saltwater fishing license. This requirement is a nod to the responsibility each angler bears in the stewardship of the state's marine resources.
Check with Outdoor Alabama for the latest redfish regulations.


The management of redfish, or red drum, in Florida unfolds as a detailed tapestry under the vigilant eye of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

  • The state of Florida, in its wisdom, is intricately divided into nine redfish management regions. Each of these regions, distinct in its ecological character, adheres to its own set of regulations, subject to annual review.
  • The regulations dictate that the redfish, a creature of both beauty and resilience, must be no less than 18 inches and no more than 27 inches in total length to be considered a legal catch. This rule, ensuring the sustainability of the species, requires anglers to measure their catch with precision and care.
  • In most of these regions, the daily bag limit for redfish stands at one fish per person, a rule that echoes the balance between man's ambition and nature's bounty. However, in the Northeast region, this limit is generously extended to two fish per person per day.
  • The vessel limit for redfish, another cog in the intricate machinery of conservation, varies by region, ranging from two to four fish per vessel. This stipulation ensures that the seas do not bear the brunt of unbridled harvest.
  • When embarking on a for-hire trip, captains and their crew are honor-bound not to retain a bag limit of redfish, a regulation that speaks to the ethics and responsibility of those who lead such expeditions.
  • Once ashore, the off-the-water transport limit is set at four fish per person. This limit, applicable when traveling by vehicle away from the fishing site, underscores the importance of restraint even away from the water’s edge.
  • In the Indian River Lagoon region, a unique decree prevails—redfish fishing is strictly catch-and-release, a testament to the delicate ecological balance of this region.
  • Florida, in its commitment to preserving the redfish, prohibits their commercial harvest, ensuring that these creatures remain a resource for sport and recreation, not commerce.
  • The legal gear for pursuing redfish is defined with precision: hook and line, cast nets, and artificial lures are permitted, while spearing, gigging, bowfishing, snatch hooking, and the use of multiple hooks with natural bait are forbidden—a reflection of the state's dedication to ethical fishing practices.
Be sure to check the red drum regulations for your area of Florida with the FWC.


The regulations governing the pursuit of redfish in Georgia are laid out with clarity and purpose:

  • The quest for redfish is open to intrepid anglers all year round. This perpetual season offers endless opportunities for those seeking the thrill of the catch.
  • The daily limit and possession limit for redfish is set at 5 fish per person, a rule that speaks to the balance between the angler's ambition and the sustainability of the species. Notably, there is no limit for a boat, allowing for collective efforts in this aquatic pursuit.
  • The size limit for redfish is carefully defined, with only those measuring between 14 and 23 inches in total length deemed fit for capture. This regulation ensures the protection of both juvenile and mature specimens, echoing the thoughtful stewardship seen in Heinlein's worlds.
  • In Georgia, redfish are revered as gamefish, a status that dictates they may only be pursued with pole and line (rod/reel).
  • To partake in this noble endeavor, anglers are required to possess a valid saltwater fishing license. This mandate serves as a reminder of the responsibility each individual holds towards the conservation and respect of Georgia's marine ecosystems.
However, there are some proposed changes to the redfish regulations that may take effect in 2023, so check with Georgia Department of Natural Resources

South Carolina

The guidelines for harvesting redfish in South Carolina are meticulously outlined:

  • The quest for redfish in South Carolina is a year-round endeavor, with the fall months heralded as the prime time for this pursuit. This open season, reminiscent of the boundless adventures in Heinlein's tales, offers a continuous opportunity for anglers to engage with these prized fish.
  • However, the art of gigging for redfish is bound by temporal limits. From December 1st through February 28th, the use of gigs is strictly prohibited, a regulation that ensures the protection of the species during critical periods.
  • The methods permitted for capturing redfish are clearly defined: only rod & reel and gig are allowed. This rule underscores the importance of traditional and ethical angling practices.
  • The harvesting of redfish from federal waters is expressly forbidden, a mandate that aligns with the broader theme of conservation and respect for marine life.
  • In South Carolina, redfish must measure between 15 and 23 inches in length to be legally retained. This size limit, coupled with a daily bag limit of 2 fish per person, strikes a balance between the angler's pursuit and the sustainability of the redfish population.
  • In addition to adhering to these redfish limits, anglers are also required to obtain a fishing license.
You can find more information about the fishing regulations on the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources website.

North Carolina

The regulations for redfish fishing in North Carolina are outlined with clarity and purpose:

  • Size limit: In the waters of North Carolina, the redfish, a species both resilient and revered, must navigate a specific range of existence to be considered a legal catch. Only those measuring between 18 and 27 inches in total length are deemed suitable for harvest. This rule ensures the health and sustainability of the species.
  • Bag limit: The daily allowance for redfish is set at one per person. This regulation, a testament to the balance between human ambition and the natural world's limits.
  • License: To engage in the pursuit of redfish, a valid North Carolina coastal fishing permit is required.
You can also check the Recreational Size and Bag Limits page from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality for more information


The regulations for redfish fishing in Virginia are meticulously set forth:

  • To embark on the pursuit of redfish in Virginia, one must be equipped with a valid saltwater fishing license. This requirement underscores the importance of regulation and responsibility in the fishing endeavor.
  • The size limit for redfish is strictly defined as 18 to 26 inches in total length. This specific range ensures that only redfish of a certain maturity are harvested, thereby promoting sustainable fishing practices.
  • The daily bag limit for redfish is established at 3 per person per day.
  • The redfish season in Virginia is generously open all year. This perpetual opportunity allows anglers to seek redfish at any time of the year, providing a continuous interplay between human and nature.
Check with the Virginia Marina Resource Commission for up to date regulations.

Captain William Toney with a nice redfish caught on a gold spoon

Navigating Regulations: A Vital Part of Redfish Fishing

Understanding and adhering to the specific regulations of the area you plan to fish in is crucial. This not only ensures legal compliance but also contributes to the conservation efforts for redfish.

Rachel Best In The Spread, Author
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