February 2, 2019

You’ll Never Guess How Old Redfish Can Get


Do you know exactly how old redfish like this one can get? Keep reading to find out.

How Old Redfish Become

If you've been reading my blog posts for awhile, then you know I was once into tagging fish.

How much? Enough to have tagged well over 1,000 speckled trout and redfish.

Tag Louisiana Tagged Fish Count

Which isn't a lot compared to someone like Charlie Bush, but it's no small amount either.

And when you tag that many fish, you really gain an appreciation for how long and far they swim, like this big speckled trout that made it to the far side of Mississippi:

Tagged Big Speckled Trout

Nice, isn't she?

But out of the 1,580 fish I've tagged, only 59 of them have been reported as a recapture.

TAG Louisiana Recaptured Fish

It doesn't seem like much, but a 3.7% recapture rate lags a little behind the program overall, which sits at a 4.5% recapture rate.

TAG Louisiana Caught and Recaptured

Of course, this is assuming every fish recaptured was reported, but we know that's certainly not the case.

Now you understand that a fish being recaptured at all is a slim chance, so what's a fish that's been recaptured more than once?

Or a fish that's been recaptured twice?

That's exactly what happened to this bull redfish from South Carolina.

South Carolina Redfish Recapture

Click for full size

When was this redfish tagged?

This fish was tagged on February 27th, 1997.

Compared to what we're tagging today, that's ancient history.

At the time he measured 35 inches in length.

How long was the redfish at large?

He was swimming for over eleven years before being caught again.

Then he swam for almost another ten before being recaptured a second time.

redfish tag 21 years

How old is this redfish?

It's hard to know for sure, not without checking an otolith from its head (requiring its death).

But we know that this month, here and now in 2019, if this redfish is still swimming, he has been doing so for 22 years with a tag in his back.


Anyways, it's difficult to know exactly how old redfish are because they grow at different rates, but if I had to guess how old this one is, I'd say he is probably knocking on 30 to 35 years of age.

How long do redfish live anyways?

According to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, redfish can live up to sixty years of age.

This means me and you have a shot at outliving a good deal of them.

Hooray us! That's a lot of time to go fishing.

Questions or comments? Chime in below.

Captain Devin

About the Author

Devin is a former fishing guide and lifelong inshore angler. He founded Louisiana Fishing Blog in 2012 to share his ideas as a charter captain and still writes in it today. Since then he's created a fishing university — LAFB Elite — where he teaches inshore anglers how to safely navigate Louisiana's coast and catch more fish.

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  • Older than dirt! Yeah, I’ve seen a few of those charts, and they’re all about the same. I guess the real question is how fast a redfish grows to sexual maturity. I can see them growing quickly then slowing down once old enough to spawn.

  • Considering that fish has been sexually mature that entire time, it’s a wonder it grew at all. There’s plenty of chow in South Carolina for them to eat. Thanks for commenting.

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