Redfish is a common name for several different species of ‘red fish’ depending on where you are. In our part of the world though we’re talking about the majestic red drum Sciaenops ocellatus, sole surviving member of the genus Sciaenops. Other popular names for red drum are spottail bass, red, and of course redfish.
Sciaenops ocellatus belongs to the drum family. The males in this family, which includes the spotted trout and black drum, make a drumming noise during breeding season to attract females. Red and black drum often live in close proximity and, according to some sources, can interbreed. However, their spawning seasons don’t run concurrently so this is likely an exception rather than the norm in the wild. The cross has been done in captivity to produce a sterile but large and vigorous hybrid.
Red drum are easily identifiable by their red back and a distinctive spot just in front of their dorsal fin. Younger fish may have several of these spots but the extra ones disappear with maturity. The underbelly is white. Adult redfish can live for up to 60 years, grow to a staggering 45 inches, and weigh in at 51 pounds! The average for males though is around 28 inches whilst females are slightly larger at 33 inches. Redfish over 27 inches are often called Bull Reds.
Fancy a tussle with a bull red? Blue Line Fishing Charters runs custom Cape Coral charter fishing trips for redfish and other exciting game fish.
Redfish Habitat And Spawning
The redfish’s preferred habitat is shallow inshore waters and coastal estuarine systems like Cape Coral. They are predominantly carnivorous bottom feeders and live on the fish and crustaceans that inhabit the grassy seabeds and shallow waters of these environments. However, they are euryhaline which means they can live in a wide range of salinity levels including fresh water.
When it comes to spawning redfish need salt water and will move to coastal waters and marsh environments. Spawning season runs from mid-August to mid-October. Mature females can produce one and a half million eggs per batch, which hatch around 24 hours after release. The new larvae seek out protective salty coastal marshes and bays and will remain there until they’re around 3 to 6 years old.
Fishing Charters Cape Coral Florida
Red drum are an extremely popular inshore game fish for several reasons. They put up a good fight, and they’re a decent size. Mature 3 – 6 year old adults can weigh in at 6 to 8 pounds. However, their popularity with recreational anglers combined with an increase in commercial fishing during the 1980’s led to an alarming drop in numbers.
As a result, many states implemented strict recreational and commercial catch limits and size restrictions that are still in force today. Some states like Florida also banned the sale of redfish. In 2007, the Federal government provided further protection by making redfish a protected game fish in Federal waters. All these measures have allowed the fish to successfully rebuild and at the same time, the average weight of mature adults has significantly increased.
Today catch limits and size restrictions vary depending on local redfish populations and habitat conditions. This can make organizing redfish fishing trips tricky, especially if you’re not a local. At Blue Line Fishing Charters we’re local so we know all the relevant Cape Coral FL fishing codes and regulations for redfish and other protected species. Why not book your fishing charter through us and save yourself a lot of compliance hassles!