Nick Wallace, Recreational Angler
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Posted on February 14, 2013 | Permalink
Will We See More Red Drum This Summer?
Location: Chesapeake Bay
Do you think that we will see more and bigger red drum this upcoming season? Any chance they might have stayed here for the winter instead of leaving?
DNR Response: The majority of red drum that were in Maryland waters last year should have left. They are not extremely tolerant of cold water. We saw a large year class of fish in 2002 and they did not return the following year. The abundance of fish in 2012 was considerably higher than in 2002, indicating an even stronger year class. It is possible with so many age 2 fish around (based on size last years fish were age one) that some may have remained and/or will return. We have not seen that many juvenile red drum in the Bay in decades, so we are kind of in uncharted territory. The winter has not been extremely cold, and I have heard second hand reports of fishermen catching them in January around some of the power plant warm water discharges. Typically they remain in NC and to a lesser extent VA as they mature. Once reaching maturity at age 3-5 they move more off shore, become migratory and only infrequently enter Maryland's portion of Chesapeake Bay in decent numbers. A few stragglers show up every year. Most of the fish we saw last year will grow into the 18-27 inch slot limit next year. So in short, history is not on our side, but only time will tell if we get a nice fishing bonus this summer.