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How Big Do Red Drum Get? (Average and Record Sizes)

How Big Do Red Drum Get? (Average and Record Sizes)

The red drum is a large, elongated fish that lives near the shore for most of its life.

Despite the fact that the red drum grows so large in size, these fish tend to hang out in surf zones and seagrass beds, which has made them a very popular and easy target for sport anglers.

If you’re wondering how big a red drum can get, you’re not the only one!

Red drums can reach a maximum length of about 60 inches and a maximum weight of 90 to 100 lbs. Usually, though, these fish get to be around 30-40 inches long and tend to weigh between 30 and 40 lbs. The All Tackle world record red drum is a fish of 94 lb 2 oz.

If you’d like to find out more about the magnificent red drum and its size, keep reading this article! Whether you’re a seasoned angler or are just curious about the topic, you’re bound to learn something new.

What Is the Maximum Size of Red Drums?

The red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus), or redfish, is the only species in the genus Sciaenops. It’s a relatively common game fish that can be found along the Atlantic coast from Massachusetts down to Florida and in the Gulf of Mexico.

Red drum can get huge! On the larger end of the scale, you might see red drums that are up to 60 inches in length and just under 100 lbs in weight, though such gigantic sizes are pretty rare.

Even smaller red drums are pretty big. Most get to be about 40 inches long and around 30 to 40 lbs heavy.

DID YOU KNOW: Red drums get their name from the “drumming” sound they make while spawning or when they are pulled out of the water. This sound is made by their muscles rubbing against their expanded air bladder.

What Is the Average Size of Red Drums?

a smaller red drum lying on a pier
By Geeklikepi – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

The average size of the red drum is between 30 and 40 inches and 30 and 40 lbs. A red drum’s size can vary depending on a few different factors, though.

For example, the quality of the water that a red drum lives in can drastically impact how old it gets to be (which, in turn, affects its size).

Listed below are some other factors that can affect the average size of red drums:

  • Loss of habitat
  • Food abundance
  • Overfishing
  • Presence of predators
  • Food competition (or lack of food)
  • Parasites like nematodes
  • Water temperature

In waters directly surrounding Florida, the average red drum tends to be about 20 to 30 lbs.

In the Gulf of Mexico, on the other hand, most red drums will be around 30 to 40 lbs.

And off the Atlantic coast, red drums can get to be a whopping 50 lbs on average!

What Is the Largest Red Drum Ever Caught?

When it comes to the largest-ever red drum caught by an angler, we’ll need to consult the IGFA world records.

The biggest red drum ever caught weighed a magnificent 94 lb 2 oz. David Deuel caught this monster in Avon, North Carolina in 1984. It’s a bit of a wonder that no red drum as big as this one has been caught since.

Deuel’s catch was certainly somewhat of an enigma, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive.

Apparently, this whopper put up a 45-minute-long fight before he was finally able to reel it in!

What Is the Largest Red Drum Ever Caught in Florida?

a florida saltwater angler holding a huge red drum
By Megamu at English Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0

Catching red drums is a relatively common experience for anglers in Florida. After all, these fish can be caught from the shore and don’t like to move around very much.

You won’t find the biggest red drums in the world in Florida, but you will find them in abundance!

Red drums can be found on both of the Sunshine State’s coasts but are most often caught along the coast of Central and Northern Florida.

Many anglers feel that Mosquito Lagoon is one of the best places to catch red drums in Florida.

The largest red drum ever caught in Florida was reeled in by George E. Hogan, Jr. in 1996. This fish weighed 52 Ibs and 5 oz. Needless to say, it wasn’t quite the behemoth that David Deuel caught in 1984, but 52 Ibs is nothing to sneeze at.

Where Are the Biggest Red Drums Found?

The biggest red drums have been found off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean (as discussed previously, the biggest red drum ever caught was reeled in from the shore of North Carolina).

This implies that the biggest red drums can be found in the Atlantic Ocean. However, there’s no reason you couldn’t find some whoppers in the Gulf of Mexico or even in Florida waters as well.

After all, one of the biggest red drums (other than George E. Hogan, Jr’s, of course) was caught in Banana River Lagoon, Florida, by Greg Braunstein, M.D., in 1995.

This red drum weighed 43 Ibs, which is quite big in comparison to most red drums found in Florida.

This just goes to show that it doesn’t matter too much where you fish. Red drums are abundant, and the big ones will make themselves known with time.

How Fast Do Red Drums Grow?

a fisherman on the ocean with a smaller red fish
By Pinkpignodoubt – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Red drums develop quickly, reaching lengths of 11 inches and 1 Ib in their first year. By the time they get to be 2 years old, they’re typically 17 to 22 inches in length and three and a half Ibs.

After three years, most red drums tend to be around 22 to 24 inches and 6-8 Ibs.

As mentioned before, red drums are considered to be fully mature after 4 years. It’s believed that they grow with age, however, which means that the 94 Ib red drum must have been quite old when it was caught.

How Old Do Red Drums Get?

The average red drum typically lives for 30-50 years. On average, they live to be around 35 years old.

The oldest recorded red drum lived to be 62 years old, though. That’s quite the lifespan, isn’t it? And it’s quite possible that there are even older specimens swimming around somewhere in our vast oceans.

As with most aquatic creatures, more research is needed on red drums to get a real sense of their lives and behaviors.

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