Stocking improves red drum fishing

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Marine Resources Division stocked approximately 100,000 red drum into a tributary, Chechessee River, of Port Royal Sound, near Beaufort on Dec. 10. This work is part of an ongoing effort by DNR to supplement the natural production of this popular gamefish.

“Stocking is a powerful scientific tool helping us to understand and offset poor natural production” says Dr. Mike Denson, who directs saltwater research programs at DNR. “Insights gained through stocking advance our understanding of the condition and habits of South Carolina’s red drum. This foundation of knowledge is essential for wise management of the fishery.”

Stocked fish are offspring of wild caught South Carolina fish that are genetically “fingerprinted” before release. Twenty years of stocking red drum along South Carolina’s coast has shown that the stocked fish contribute significantly to the population. Dr. Denson reports that approximately 7% of wild adult red drum caught near Charleston Harbor were originally stocked by DNR. This is especially impressive considering that DNR research has demonstrated that red drum can live to 37 years in South Carolina waters.

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