Info > Red Drum
Red, Spottail, Channel Bass, Poisson Rouge
drum are found Gulfwide, from low-salinity or even freshwater
estuaries out to offshore waters at least 50 feet deep. Red
drum are not fussy about bottom type, being found on everything
from soft mud to hard bottoms of shell hash and oyster reefs.
Often, large schools of large red drum will congregate at
nearshore artificial reefs and oil and gas platforms in the
drum can be silvery-gray with a
copper cast or bright copper colored with an iridescent gray
cast. Color depends largely on the water the fish comes from.
The belly is typically white. Most fish will have a single
ocellated spot located just ahead of the tail fin. Occasionally,
more than one spot can be found, and rarely, any spots are
Red drum, like many other members of the drum family, spawn
in high salinity waters in areas of high tidal current flow,
such as areas near barrier island passes. Spawning usually
takes place over an 8 or 9 week period from mid-August to
mid-October. During this period, male red drum stake out,
in large numbers, the prime spawning areas in and near the
passes, being ready to spawn virtually every night. There
they form large schools at night, called drumming aggregations,
because of the drumming sound that they make with their air
bladders to attract females. Females, on the other hand, tend
to appear at these areas only when immediately ready to spawn,
which seems to be once every 2 to 7 days. This means that
the large majority of redfish taken during this time by recreational
fishermen are males, rather than females. While the 2-month
spawning period is less than half that for spotted seatrout,
the spawning potential of an individual redfish is truly stupendous.
At an average of 1½ million eggs per spawn, and a spawning
every 2 to 4 days, the average female can be expected to produce
20-40 million eggs per season.
While it has been a generally accepted rule of thumb that
redfish leave inshore waters when they mature at around age
5, there is a lot of variation in this. Immature 2 to 5 year
old fish have been found in the offshore schools. Also, a
small percentage of females mature at age 3 and about 9 pounds
in weight. A few males mature even sooner, at age 2 and 5½
pounds. All females are mature by age 6 and all males by age
5. Once mature, redfish typically will spawn for the rest
of their lives.
Red drum are aggressive and opportunistic feeders and the
result is evident in their growth rate. At age 1 they average
over 13 inches and by age 2, they average over 21 inches long.
Blue crabs make up a large part of their diet, but fish and
shrimp are also eaten. Although red drum have been known to
come to the surface to take topwater artificial baits, they
are typically bottom feeders. Commonly eaten fish include
searobins, lizardfish, menhaden, mullet, pigfish, spot, Atlantic
croakers, and flounder. Most of these are bottom-living species.
common from 1-10 pounds in estuaries, although larger fish
are not uncommon. Red drum caught in offshore waters are usually
over 10 and often over 30 pounds.
with smaller fish being considered better table fare than
Redfish Biology (fact sheet)
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