Due to strict redfish rules and regulations, it’s very important for any angler to know when they are in season, what the laws and restrictions are governing their catch, and what each state’s size and bag limits are for 2023. States with the most redfish activity include Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia.
Legislation enacted by George Bush in 1987 added redfish as a protected species so each state has its own laws and guidelines on how many redfish you can keep, when redfish fish for them, and what the bag limits are. Redfish regulations will vary from state to state and knowing the correct laws, rules, and regulations will help you avoid fines and tickets and keep you from breaking any laws.
The overall goal is to be a smart angler armed with all of the necessary information to enjoy each redfish outing to its fullest.
Below we review each state more in-depth and provide all anglers with a brief guide to redfish season, laws, rules, and regulations for fishing in local waters. The guidelines will explore how many redfish you can keep, how to measure redfish to stay within state laws and the dates that redfish are in season.
Common Characteristics of Redfish:
Redfish are very popular inshore species and extremely fun to catch.
Anglers from all over the world often visit the United States coast every year to try their luck at catching them. They provide an awesome fight and are delicious to eat. Many fishing charters along the coast offer redfish excursions as well.
- Typically iridescent silver-gray with a copper cast
- One or more oscillated spots on the upper sides from below the soft portion of the dorsal fin to the base of the caudal fin
- Mouth inferior and horizontal, teeth set in bands on both jaws
- Chin without barbels, smooth pre-opercular margin
- Adults utilize nearshore and inshore bottom habitats, such as tidal creeks, oyster reefs, and beaches, typically over sandy or sandy-mud bottoms; may also congregate in nearshore groups.
- Juveniles inhabit estuaries near shallow tidal creeks and salt marshes, commonly at marsh grass edges or in the vicinity of oyster reefs; reside in deeper river channels during winter. Subadults inhabit larger tidal creeks, rivers, and the front beaches of barrier islands.
- 18 inches, 2.6 pounds
- Approximately 38 years although some have been reported to live much longer.
What Species are Known as Redfish?
It’s important to know the types of species that are known as redfish and are governed by state laws and regulations.
Redfish is a common name for several species of fish. It is most commonly applied to certain deep-sea rockfish in the genus Sebastes, red drum from the genus Sciaenops or the reef dwelling snappers in the genus Lutjanus. It is also applied to the slimeheads or roughies (family Trachichthyidae), and the alfonsinos.Redfish on Wikipedia
|Image||Redfish Species||Common Names for Redfish|
|Centroberyx affinis||Redfish, eastern nannygai|
|Etelis oculatus||Queen snapper|
|Lutjanus buccanella||Blackfin snapper|
|Lutjanus campechanus||Red snapper|
|Lutjanus erythropterus||Crimson snapper|
|Lutjanus purpureus||Southern red snapper|
|Lutjanus sebae||Emperor red snapper|
|Lutjanus synagris||Lane snapper|
|Oncorhynchus nerka||Sockeye salmon|
|Rhomboplites aurorubens||Vermillion snapper|
|Sebastes fasciatus||Acadian redfish|
|Sciaenops ocellatus||Red drum|
|Sebastes mentella||Deep-water redfish|
|Sebastes norvegicus||Ocean perch, rose fish|
How To Measure Redfish To Abide by Laws & Regulations
For most finfish, such as redfish, size limit regulations use either Fork Length or Total Length.
Total Length is measured from the most forward point of the head, with the mouth closed, to the farthest tip of the tail with the tail compressed or squeezed, while the fish is lying on its side.
Total Length species include but are not limited to snappers, groupers, red drum, black drum, snook, spotted seatrout, weakfish, tripletail, bonefish, sheepshead, and flounder.
Steps to measure redfish:
- Lay the redfish out on a flat surface with its jaw closed.
- For the soft-tailed redfish and scrunch up the tail to obtain the maximum length it can reach.
- Next, measure a very straight line from the tip of the snout to the furthest part of the tail as you hold it scrunched up.
When using a flexible measuring tape, please remember to take a straight line measurement and do not follow the contour of the fish as this will result in an inaccurate measurement greater the than the straight line measurement. For best results, place flexible measuring tapes flat on a hard surface and measure fish accordingly.-Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
What is a Redfish Bag Limit?
A redfish bag limit is the number of a single species you can catch and take with you in a single day.
The possession limit is the number of a single species you can have in your possession at one time; it is a combined total of your daily take and anything you have stored at home.
Saltwater Licensing Fees for Redfish in Each State
|License||Alabama||Louisiana||Florida||All Other States|
|Disabled Veterans (20%)||$3.15||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Reef Fish Endorsement||$10.00||$10.00||$10.00||$10.00|
Alabama State Redfish Laws, Rules, & Regulations for 2023
Alabama Key Restrictions and Guidelines
- Residents and nonresidents under the age of 16 are exempt from needing a license in addition to residents aged 65 and over
- Annual and seven-day trip licenses are available for residents and non-residents
- A license is also required for cast netting, flounder gigging, and recreational crab traps
- Saltwater Angler Registration is required for all residents 16 and over who are not required to purchase an annual saltwater license such as those 65 or older, have a lifetime saltwater license, or fish exclusively on a pier that has purchased a pier fishing license. Registration is free.
- Date of this regulation: May 2017
Alabama Fishing License Registration
Register for your Alabama fishing license at Outdoor Alabama.
Alabama Redfish Catch Limits
Daily Limit: 3
Minimum size: 16″ to 26″
Anglers can keep one fish over the 26-inch limit per day out of the three total redfish allowed per day.
Alabama Redfish Season
Redfish season is year-round in Alabama state waters.
Book a Redfish Charter in Alabama
If you’re looking for a redfish charter in Alabama, check out Fishing Booker for the most efficient way to book.
Florida State Redfish Laws, Rules, & Regulations for 2023
Florida Key Restrictions and Guidelines
- Most red bloom restrictions were removed in 2021
- Review Florida’s extensive laws before fishing for red drum, or any fish
- No person shall harvest in or from the waters of the State of Florida at any time, or unnecessarily destroy, any redfish of total length less than 18 inches, nor greater than 27 inches.
- Gigging, spearing, or snatching redfish is prohibited in the state of Florida.
Florida Red Fish Seasons
Florida Fishing License Registration
Register for your Florida fishing license at Go Outdoors Florida.
- Annual License: $17.00
- Five Year Florida License: $79.00
- Three Day License: $17.00
- Seven Day License: $30.00
- Annual License: $47.00
Florida Redfish Catch Limits
Daily Limit: 1*
Minimum size: 18″ to 27″
Florida Redfish Season
Redfish season is year-round in Florida state waters.
Florida Redfish Bag Limits
- Northeast Regional Bag Limit – Except as provided for in Rule 68B-22.007, F.A.C., in the northeast region, no person shall harvest nor possess more than two native redfish per day while in, on, or above the waters of the state or on any dock, pier, bridge, beach, boat ramp, or another fishing site adjacent to such waters, and any parking located adjacent to said fishing sites.
- Northwest and South Regional Bag Limit – Except as provided for in Rule 68B-22.007, F.A.C., in the northwest and south regions, no person shall harvest nor possess more than one native redfish per day while in, on, or above the waters of the state or on any dock, pier, bridge, beach, boat ramp, or another fishing site adjacent to such waters, and any parking located adjacent to said fishing sites.
- Vessel Limit – Notwithstanding subsections (1) and (2), above, no more than 8 red drum shall be possessed aboard any vessel in or on state waters at any time.
- Transport Possession Limit – No person shall possess more than six native red drum while in transit on land.
- Sale of Native Redfish Prohibited – The purchase, sale, or exchange of any native redfish is prohibited.
Florida Red Drum Management Zones
For red drum, there are three management zones to be aware of. The daily bag limit is one fish in the northwest and south zones and two fish in the northeast zone.
Book a Redfish Charter in Florida
If you’re looking for a redfish charter in Florida, check out Fishing Booker for the most efficient way to book.
Georgia State Redfish Laws, Rules, & Regulations for 2023
Georgia Key Restrictions and Guidelines
- The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division issues licenses for fishing privileges in fresh and saltwater, and for hunting.
- A valid basic hunting or fishing license also provides access to state properties for other recreation such as hiking, birdwatching, and similar activities.
- Annual fishing or hunting licenses good for 365 days from their purchase date cost $15 each for state residents. Discounted short-term licenses from one to 10 days are also available for residents and non-residents.
- A basic one-day fishing license for non-residents is only $10.
- Saltwater fishing requires a free Saltwater Information Permit (SIP) in addition to a basic fishing license. The SIP is valid for 365 days.
- Information about saltwater licenses and ordering your license online is here – https://georgia.gov/popular-topic/fishing-licenses
Georgia Fishing License Registration
You can purchase a license online or from a local agent, or call 800-366-2661.
Georgia Redfish Catch Limits
Daily Limit: 5
Minimum size: 14″ to 23″
Georgia Redfish Season
Redfish season in Georgia state waters is year-round.
Book a Redfish Charter in Georgia
If you’re looking for a redfish charter in Georgia, check out Fishing Booker for the most efficient way to book.
Louisiana State Redfish Laws, Rules, & Regulations for 2023
Louisiana Key Restrictions and Guidelines
- Anglers must possess a saltwater fishing license when fishing below the saltwater line.
- Recreational saltwater anglers may possess a two-day bag limit of red drum on land, however, no person shall be in possession of over the daily bag limit of red drum on any one day or while fishing or while on the water, unless that recreational saltwater angler is aboard a trawler engaged in commercial fishing for a consecutive period of longer than 25 hours.
- Catching or possession of redfish in federal waters is prohibited.
Louisiana Fishing License Registration
If you’re age 18 or older, you must have the following licenses to fish recreationally in saltwater in Louisiana:
Any resident age 60 or older must instead have a Senior Hunting/Fishing License. This license is in lieu of Basic and Saltwater Fishing Licenses; Basic, Deer, Waterfowl, and Turkey Hunting Licenses; and the WMA Access Permit. It also includes all legal gear privileges. This license is free for residents born before June 1, 1940.
Louisiana Redfish Catch Limit
Daily Limit: 5
Minimum size: 16″ to 27″
No more than one redfish over 27” max total length
Louisiana Redfish Season
Redfish season in Louisiana state waters is year-round.
Book a Redfish Charter in Louisiana
If you’re looking for a redfish charter in Louisiana, check out Fishing Booker for the most efficient way to book.
Mississippi State Redfish Laws, Rules, & Regulations for 2023
Mississippi Key Restrictions and Guidelines
- In Mississippi, it is required to possess a fishing license when saltwater fishing.
Mississippi Fishing License Registration
Register for your Mississippi fishing license at the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
- Resident Sportsman’s License: $45
- Resident Saltwater License: $10
- Resident All Game Freshwater Fishing: $25
- Non-Resident Freshwater License: $60
- Non-Resident Saltwater License: $30
Mississippi Redfish Catch Limit
Daily Limit: 3
Minimum size: 18″ to 30″
Recreational fishermen may keep only one redfish over 30 inches in total length.
Mississippi Redfish Season
Redfish season in Mississippi state waters is year-round.
Red Snapper season typically opens in mid to late May.
Book a Redfish Charter in Mississippi
If you’re looking for a redfish charter in Mississippi, check out Fishing Booker for the most efficient way to book.
North Carolina State Redfish Laws, Rules, & Regulations for 2023
North Carolina Key Restrictions and Guidelines
- North Carolina’s Coastal Recreational Fishing License (CRFL), is administered by the Division of Marine Fisheries.
- This license can be purchased on a 10-day, annual or lifetime basis, or combined with a variety of licenses issued by the Wildlife Resources Commission.
- Proceeds from the sale of this license will go into two marine resource funds managed by the state’s Marine Fisheries and Wildlife Resources commissions. Revenues must be used to manage, protect, restore, develop, cultivate, conserve and/or enhance North Carolina’s marine resources.
North Carolina Fishing License Registration
A recreational coastal fishing license is required for saltwater fishing.
Register for your North Carolina fishing license at the Wildlife Resources Commission.
Resident Fishing – Annual
- Inland Fishing (basic): $20
- Comprehensive Inland Fishing: $25
- Coastal Recreational Fishing: $15
- Unified Inland/Coastal Recreational Fishing License: $40
Non-Resident Fishing – Annual
- Inland Fishing (basic): $30
- Coastal Recreational Fishing: $30
North Carolina Red Fish Catch Limit
Daily Limit: 1
Minimum size: 18″ to 27″
More on North Carolina bag limits here.
North Carolina Redfish Season
Redfish season in North Carolina state waters is year-round.
Book a Redfish Charter in North Carolina
If you’re looking for a redfish charter in North Carolina, check out Fishing Booker for the most efficient way to book.
South Carolina State Redfish Laws, Rules, & Regulations for 2023
South Carolina Key Restrictions and Guidelines
- Redfish are present in South Carolina waters year-round.
- Distribution is predominantly temperature dependent: juvenile fish progress from marshes and tidal creeks to overwinter in deeper inshore waters; larger adults overwinter offshore and return to nearshore waters during spring.
- No commercial red drum fishery currently exists in South Carolina; the potential for recreational harvest is significant since legal-size fish inhabit inshore and nearshore waters during a large portion of the year.
- Conservation concerns: degradation and loss of estuarine habitats; lack of information on South Carolina spawning locations; maintenance of optimal numbers of subadult and spawning size fish.
South Carolina Fishing License Registration
Register for your South Carolina fishing license at Go Outdoors SC.
Resident Saltwater Fishing
- Three Year: $30.00
- Annual: $10.00
- 14-day: $5.00
Nonresident Saltwater Fishing
- Three Year: $105.00
- Annual: $35.00
- 14-day: $11.00
South Carolina Redfish Catch Limit
Daily Limit: 3
Minimum size: 15″ to 23″
Learn more about the size and catch limits in South Carolina here.
South Carolina Redfish Season
Redfish season in South Carolina state waters is year-round but gigging of redfish from December to February is illegal.
Book a Redfish Charter in South Carolina
If you’re looking for a redfish charter in South Carolina, check out Fishing Booker for the most efficient way to book.
Texas State Redfish Laws, Rules, & Regulations for 2023
Texas Key Restrictions and Guidelines
- Anglers may never have more than four red snapper in their possession while fishing.
Texas Fishing License Registration
Register for your Texas fishing license at Parks and Wildlife site.
- Resident Freshwater Fishing Package: $30.00
- Resident Freshwater Fishing Package: $35.00
- Resident All Water Fishing Package: $40.00
- Non-Resident Saltwater Fishing Package: $63.00
Texas Redfish Catch Limit
Daily Limit: 3
Minimum size: 20″ to 28″
During a license year, one red drum over the stated maximum length limit may be retained when affixed with a properly completed Red Drum Tag and one red drum over the stated maximum length limit may be retained when affixed with a properly completed Bonus Red Drum Tag.
Any fish retained under the authority of a Red Drum Tag or a Bonus Red Drum Tag may be retained in addition to the daily bag and possession limit as stated in this section.-Texas Parks and Wildlife
Texas Redfish Season
Redfish season in Texas state waters is year-round.
Book a Redfish Charter in Texas
If you’re looking for a redfish charter in Texas, check out Fishing Booker for the most efficient way to book.
Virginia State Redfish Laws, Rules, & Regulations for 2023
Virginia Key Restrictions and Guidelines
- Virginia Beach and the Chesapeake Bay area are great places to find redfish. As an angler, knowing the bag limit will allow you to keep the correct number of fish.
- Catching red drum in Virginia is release only
Virginia Fishing License Registration
Register for your Virginia fishing license either online or over the phone through the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources. The phone number is 1-866-721-6911 (available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for holidays).
You can buy a license online at Virginia DWR. Licenses also are sold at hundreds of locations across the Commonwealth.
- Resident: $17.50
- Non Resident: $25.00
Virginia Redfish Catch Limit
Daily Limit: 3
Minimum size: 18″ to 26″
Virginia Redfish Season
Redfish season in Virginia state waters is year-round.
Book a Redfish Charter in Virginia
If you’re looking for a redfish charter in Virginia, check out Fishing Booker for the most efficient way to book.
Tips on Handling Large Red Drum
Larger fish like redfish are important to maintain healthy fish populations because they are typically more successful spawners. Use these tips in mind to give big fish a fighting chance at survival after catching-Florida Saltwater Fishing E-Regulations
- Keep large fish in the water to reduce stress or injury to the fish. Learn more about how long before ungutted fish goes bad and what colors to wear when fishing here.
- Use heavy tackle to bring fish in quickly, reducing the chance of exhaustion.
- Always revive fish showing signs of exhaustion by allowing a consistent flow of water through the mouth and over the gills. Use a “figure-eight motion” if you are fishing from a stationary location.
- Do not gaff a fish unless you intend to harvest it.
- Use a descending device or venting tool on fish with signs of barotrauma (bloated belly, stomach projecting from the mouth, protruding intestines, bulging eyes.)
If you must remove fish from the water:
- Get them back in the water as soon as possible.
- Always hold them horizontally and support their weight with two hands.
- Use wet hands, never a towel or other cloth that can remove their protective slime.
- Keep fingers out of the eyes and gills.
- Do not drag them over rocks, the gunnel of a boat, the side of a dock, pier or any other rough surface.
Fishing for red drum from bridges or piers:
- Only bring fish onto the pier or bridge if you intend to harvest.
- Only target large fish from bridges or piers if you have specialized gear (pier nets or slings) to support their full body. Bringing up large fish without proper gear or allowing them to freefall large distances can cause injury and increase mortality.
- If you cannot properly lift the fish, cut the line as close to the fish as possible before releasing it back into the water. (This may mean walking this fish to the shore if fishing from a pier.)