The Future of Louisiana Redfish

Among the many species that inhabit the bayou, none generates more cultural allure or economic impact than the red drum. Louisiana is a globally recognized hotspot for redfish angling tourism. The vast marshes and incredible culture provide an idyllic setting for catching the fish of a lifetime.

Unfortunately, Louisiana’s redfish are now facing hard times. The numbers of adult redfish have fallen to levels not seen in decades, and anglers are harvesting redfish at an unsustainable rate. The time is now to conserve this incredible resource.

The American Saltwater Guides Association was formed with the goal of using science and education to advocate for sustainable fisheries management. We believe in Better Business Through Conservation and understand that a healthy resource benefits everyone. We fight daily for our members along the Atlantic coast and have formed a strong bond with the LA guide community to do so for their shared resources. ASGA is wholeheartedly committed to working directly with the local guide community and other key stakeholders to ensure this remarkable fishery is rebuilt for our businesses, the resource, and the vast communities it supports.

Fisherman with Redfish


Shifting from the traditional mindset.

In June 2024, Louisiana updated its redfish regulations for the first time in over 35 years. The last regulation chance was in 1988. The Louisiana Department of Fish and Wildlife sparked this regulatory process with its latest red drum stock assessment. The assessment found that overfishing is occurring, and the Escapement Rate has fallen to 20.1% while the target rate is 30%. This rate is the lowest recruitment the state has ever recorded. Most concerning is the Spawning Potential Ratio, the amount of sexually mature females in the resource, is expected to fall below the target around 2025. Poor recruitment combined with far too liberal bag limits caused the stock size estimates to plummet from a high of 23 million fish in 1999 to only 8.7 million in 2021. Our members and the entire economy of Louisiana depend on an abundant redfish population. The situation is becoming dire.

At the start of this regulatory process, LDWF suggested a 35% reduction in harvest to address this situation. This level of reduction is projected to end overfishing within six years. However, it will take 30 years to rebuild SPR. The longer the recovery, the greater the uncertainty. For this reason, most management plans seek a ten-year rebuilding plan. A 30-year timeframe for rebuilding the population of adult redfish condemns the resource to a bleak future for over a generation of fishermen.


Progress is never easy and old habits die hard. 

With the best available science indicating the need for change to facilitate the fishery’s recovery, ASGA embarked on a mission to educate and empower advocates to drive regulatory reform. In their first organized year on the management frontlines, the ASGA guide community participated meaningfully and impactfully from the start of the process until new regulations became law. The “Science, Education & Advocacy” model has ignited a passionate community to rally and safeguard the future of their incredible marine resources. Over dozens of online and in-person hearings, the State overwhelmingly heard a collective voice for conservation through thoughtful and insightful testimony. While those resistant to change cast doubt and threw labels on other stakeholders, progress is being made in Louisiana. These conversations are not rooted in the conflict between “spin anglers” and “fly fishermen” nor between catch-and-release advocates and those who prefer to keep their catch. This campaign is a collective effort to restore an iconic resource and ensure a thriving, abundant resource for all stakeholders to enjoy.

An angling community UNITED by conservation.

Whether you’re a Louisiana resident in love with the iconic residents of your home waters, a returning angler who prioritizes experiencing the bayou every year or a hopeful angler aiming to visit one day, your voice matters. The public comment period during this regulatory process demonstrated how iconic this fishery is. Hundreds of brands and thousands of anglers from around the country signed ASGA’s official letter of support for the original NOI. You can read the official letter by clicking here. Additionally, brands from across the recreational fishing and outdoor industries rallied to support the movement. For example, Hatch Outdoors made limited edition, custom fly reels that sold out within days and raised thousands of dollars for advocacy efforts and economics research to support the red drum conservation campaign.


Relentless participation in an evolving process.

June 20, 2024 – The dawn of a new era in Louisiana. Regulations that had remained unchanged for decades were reevaluated and revised, thanks to the support and advocacy of the fishing community in Louisiana and their supporters around the country. New regulations have now been implemented with an adjusted slot size of 18 to 27 inches and a reduced total bag limit of 4 fish per person. Harvest of bull reds over 27 inches is prohibited, and no guide or charter captain is permitted to harvest fish during trips.

The blog entries below provide a detailed account of all the twists and turns in this multi-year management process:

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