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Description: To 5' (1.5 m); 90 lbs (41 kg). Elongate, moderately compressed, ventral profile nearly straight; iridescent silvery gray, copper, bronze, or reddish; 1 or more large, black, ocellated spots on caudal peduncle; dorsal and caudal fins dusky; anal and pelvic fins pale. Snout conical; mouth horizontal, inferior; maxilla reaches back of eye; no chin barbels; preopercular margin smooth. Third and fourth dorsal spines longest; caudal fin truncate in adults. Lateral line extends to tip of caudal fin; scales large, ctenoid.

Similar Fish:Black Drum

Where Found: Red Drum are found in the Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to Florida and in the Gulf of Mexico from Florida to Northern Mexico. Most popular fishing areas are along shell bars and rocky or grassy shorelines and on shallow flats, where they are usually fished by sight. Reds also forage in the surf of outside beaches nearly everywhere on the Gulf Coast and along the upper half of the East Coast, especially in the fall. Adults move offshore to spawn and are sometimes encountered in open water in large schools. They roam into coastal rivers and creeks at any time of year, and in winter swarm into them, seeking warmer water.

Size:Red drum is a fast growing fish reaching approximately 11 inches and one pound in its first year, 17-22 inches and 3 1/2 pounds in two years, and 22-24 inches and 6-8 pounds in three years. The record red drum was 94 pounds and was caught on the East coast

World Record: 94 lbs. 2 oz. by angler David G. Deuel in Avon, <acronym title="North Carolina">NC</acronym> on Nov. 7, 1984

Bait used: "Bull" reds are best caught with natural bait. Fresh cut mullet, larger live mullet (6-8 inches long) and blue crab are the best baits. Both single and double-drop bottom rigs are good. A heavy grabbing sinker is needed to keep baits stationary on the surf bottom.

Tactics to catch: Fine gamester. Strength, stamina and fairly long, bullish runs are its trademarks. All kinds of casting tackle, including fly, are successfully used on Redfish of all sizes. Surf rods and light-to-medium saltwater outfits are good for beach, bridge, pier and offshore fishing. Redfish are ravenous feeders that will take live baitfish, crabs and shrimp, and also dead or cut baits from the same sources. Live shrimp and minnows make the very best baits for shallow coastal fishing; live Pinfish, small Mullet or similar baitfish for angling in deeper water. Most productive artificial lures are weed less spoons, plastic-tail jigs and topwater plugs, but many swimming plugs also work. Large streamers and poppers do the job for fly fishermen. Techniques are casting; drifting; still fishing.

Climate: Red drum have been collected over a temperature range of 2-23 degrees C, although they usually move into deeper water at the extremes. Juveniles and adults are more susceptible to the effects of winter cold waves than are smaller fish. Juvenile red drum movement out of the estuaries appears to be triggered by the decrease in fall temperatures. When bays and inlets warm in spring, the fish migrate from the Gulf of Mexico into the bays. While red drum tolerate a wide temperature range, sudden freezes mass mortalities. Laboratory studies have found the best conditions for hatching and 24 hour survival of larval red drum to be 25 degrees C.

Spawning habits: During spawning, red drum males attract females by producing a drum-like noise by vibrating a muscle in their swim bladder. They sometimes swim in water so shallow that their backs are exposed. Red drum are prolific spawners; large females are capable of producing nearly 2 million eggs in a single season .Spawning occurs in near-shore coastal waters–along beaches and near inlets and passes–from late summer and into the fall. Eggs spawned in the ocean are carried by currents into estuaries where they hatch. Male red drum begin maturing at age 1, while females mature at ages 4 to 5 in North Carolina and 2 to 3 farther south.

Table food? Red portions of flesh do not have objectionable taste when fresh. Once considered poor table fare, the Red Drum gained popularity as a food fish in the early 80's, due largely in part to the Cajun specialty dish "Blackened Redfish" developed by Chef Paul Prudhomme. Utilized fresh and frozen; can be pan-fried, broiled and baked.

Feeding habits: Young-of-the-year appear in the estuary from August through September and newly hatched larval red drum are carried further by water currents toward fresher, shallower water. Juvenile drum in these areas feed on zooplankton and invertebrates such as small crabs and shrimp. Adults primarily feed on fish, crabs and shrimp. Changes of food habits with size have been noted. Dietary items indicate that red drum feed over sandy to muddy bottoms from both shallow and moderately deep water. Grass-beds are also an important feeding area for pre-adult red drum.

Remarks: The fish called “drums” often produce drumming sounds, sometimes rather loud. The sound is produced, usually by males, by vibrating special muscles near the swim bladder. The drumming can be heard when the animals spawn or when they are taken out of the water.


indian-river.<acronym title="Florida">fl</acronym>.us





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