2015 Red Drum Stock Assessment

Read the most current stock assessment for red drum in Florida, published August 2015.

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The 2015 stock assessment of Red Drum, Sciaenops ocellatus, in Florida

David Chagaris, Behzad Mahmoudi, and Michael Murphy

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
100 8th Ave SE St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Executive Summary

  • This report assesses the status of the Red Drum populations found in four regions along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida. Red drum population dynamics are described for the period 1950-2013 utilizing all available information on catch, effort, relative abundance, and size/age composition.
  • Recreational harvest of red rum dropped sharply during 1988-1990 following large harvests of Red Drum in the early 1980s especially in the NE and SW regions. From 1991 to 2008, recreational harvest of Red Drum remained fairly stable in the SW, NW, and NE regions but slowly increased in the SE region. Since 2009 recreational harvest has increased in the NE region but remaining at stable levels in the other three regions. The estimates of number of Red Drum harvested (type A+B1) annually during 2009-2013 averaged 75,094 fish in the NE region, 118,532 fish in the SE region, 159,054 fish in the SW region, and 146,960 fish in the NW region. The number of Red Drum captured and released alive (type B2) by anglers were higher on the Gulf coast than the Atlantic. The estimates of B2 during 2009-2013 averaged 0.8 million fish in the NW region, 1.4 million fish in the SW region, 0.6 million fish in the NE region, and 0.5 million fish in the SE region.
  • Lengths of most Red Drum landed by recreational fishers during 2010-2014 were between 44cm (17.3 inches) and 72cm (28inches) total length. During the period 2010-2013, lengths of released fish were mostly larger than 30cm (11.8 inches TL) on the Atlantic coast and 14cm (5.5 inches TL) on the Gulf coast. Discarded fish as large 116 cm (46 inches TL) were common on both coasts.
  • Trends in the recreational catch rates (number fish/angler hour) from the MRFSS/MRIP intercept data indicate that there has been a general increase in CPUE of Red Drum in the NE and SE regions since 1990. Catch rates in the SW and NW regions were variable with no strong trend since 1990, however the 2013 estimate in the NW is the highest in the time series.
  • The relative abundance indices generated for young-of-the-year Red Drum were variable with no significant trend in all four regions, and high values predicted in the NW and SW regions for 2014, and the NE region during 2013. Estimates of sub-adult indices fluctuated with slight increasing pattern (especially in recent years) in all regions except for the NE region, where sub-adult indices are flat at a relatively low level.
  • We developed a Stock Synthesis model (SS3) to assess the status of Red Drum populations in Florida waters. The model was run from 1950 to 2013, accounted for 8 ages (0-7+), 2 selectivity time blocks, and was fit to catch, CPUE indices, length composition, and size-at-age data. Model diagnostics demonstrated convergence on a global solution and no retrospective patterns. Furthermore, reference points and stock status predictions were robust across a range of steepness values.


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