The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is looking to make temporary fishing limits permanent from Pasco to Escambia county. The one fish per day restriction for red drum will get a final hearing in September.
State wildlife officials see red drum, or red fish, as a huge success—recovering from near collapse in the 1980s to largely plentiful fisheries today. But anglers in some areas are concerned with an apparent drop-off. Jim Brown, former head of law enforcement with The Fish and Wildlife Commission sees declines in Apalachicola Bay.
“About six or seven years ago I began seeing a significant decrease in the red fish population,” Brown says. “Before that, you’d see schools of hundreds of red fish on the flats in the shallow areas in the spring and the fall. That dropped from hundreds to dozens to now just about nonexistent.”
He points to drought conditions potentially interfering with reproduction. The Commission has lined up a vote in September to permanently restrict red drum catch to one per person per day. The members put that limit in place earlier this year on a temporary basis.