Louisiana redfish are in trouble, but you can help advocate for recovering this world class fishery. In 2022, The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fish released a new stock assessment for redfish–the results were not good. Anglers were killing too many redfish, and rebuilding the adult population would take half a century without some serious reductions. For many fishing guides and concerned advocates, a multi-decadal recovery time period was unacceptable. Action is needed, and this community has a great opportunity to encourage Louisiana Commissioners and Legislators to approve a precautionary recovery plan to get this fishery back to where it should be as quickly as possible. The American Saltwater Guides Association has made it super simple to understand this issue and for anglers to help move the needle.

Louisiana redfish is a world-class fishing destination, and the Bayou is aptly dubbed “The Sportsman’s Paradise.” From the vast marshes, to the barrier islands, to a hundred miles offshore, there are so many sporting opportunities. Yet, time and time again, when anglers think Louisiana, they think redfish, and more specifically, big bull reds. This nearly year-round fishery supports hundreds of guides and fishing businesses, as anglers from all over the world travel to have their hand at sight fishing some of these bull-dogging reds.

However, this fishery is in trouble and needs your support to ensure that Louisiana will have an abundant and healthy redfish population in the short-term and long into the future.

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Redfish Assessment Findings and Management Options:

  • The Louisiana Red Drum stock is currently not overfished, but is experiencing overfishing. There are too few juvenile fish recruiting into the spawning (adult, age 4+) population.
  • The recent downturn in recreational landings are due to a series of below average annual recruitment to the stock. 2019 through 2021 had the lowest recruitment estimates in the time-series examined!
  • “The spawning stock of red drum is measured with a spawning potential ratio (SPR), simply put, the number of red drum available to spawn relative to the population if they were not fished. While the current red drum SPR is above the limit of 20%, it has been declining since 2005 as fewer red drum “escape” to the offshore population.” (LDWF)
  • Unless action is taken now, Louisiana’s redfish population will continue declining towards an overfished condition, making recovery all the more difficult.
  • The last time Louisiana redfish regs were meaningfully changed was in July 1988–the recreational creel limit was changed to 5 fish per person and the slot limit was changed to a 16-inch total length minimum and a 27-inch total length maximum with no more than one fish over 27-inches allowed.
  • LDWF recently published a Notice of Intent (NOI) to change redfish regulations to a three-fish bag limit with a 18-24-inch slot limit. In addition, the harvest of any “over-slot” fish would be prohibited. This NOI
  • This proposal “represents a 55% reduction that would rebuild SPR in only 12 years” (versus LDWF’s original 35% reduction proposal that was projected to rebuild SPR in nearly 30 years), according to the American Saltwater Guides Association.
  • Support for this NOI is critical to show the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission and the State Legislature how important and popular a timely recovery of the state’s redfish population is!

How Can You Help?

ASGA is working with dozens of conservation minded light-tackle and fly fishing guides down in Louisiana to recover this redfish fishery as quickly as possible. The organization has engaged with LDWF officials at every step of this process to ensure a positive outcome, but in order to get these conservation minded regulation changes across the finish line, ASGA and the many fishing guides and businesses that rely on abundant redfish need your help!

“This is a big deal. Louisiana is considering the first regulation change for redfish in over 30 years,” said ASGA’s Tony Friedrich. “Louisiana is an iconic, world-class fishing destination that faces a growing list of environmental and fisheries challenges. The state’s redfish population has fallen from historic levels, and substantial changes are required to ensure legendary fishing for generations to come. We must support the local guides and business owners leading the charge to make fundamental changes in the local perception of their fisheries and how they are managed”.

ASGA wrote this letter to distribute to Louisiana decision makers, and you can sign-on HERE. The deadline is October 5th, 2023. Even if you’ve never experienced the Bayou, this is a great opportunity to advocate for conservation and effective fisheries management to ensure there are abundant bull reds for when you make it down to Louisiana!

Cover picture courtesy of Josh Mercadal.

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