Whether you’ve heard them called red drum, redfish, channel bass, or spot tail bass, you’ll be hard pressed to find an angler who doesn’t call it a premier game fish. These magnificent fish can be targeted in several inches of water with fly or lure, or caught in deep inlets with heavy tackle and natural bait. Their hard-fights, willingness to take a variety of natural and artificial baits, and beautiful coloration make the red drum one of the most highly sought after game fish species in the world.
A scroll through the IGFA World Record Game Fishes book reaffirms the redfish’s popularity amongst the angling elite, with prominent names like Ballantyne, Hogan, and Werking listed alongside their respective records. But much like the largemouth bass, part of what makes the redfish popular is its availability to the masses. Million dollar boats and high-tech tackle are not required, which is evident by the fact that the largest redfish ever recorded by the IGFA were caught from shore or from piers, using basic tackle and a chunk of bait.
This compilation of red drum world records highlights a handful of records set for this species, and clearly illustrates just how diverse fishing for redfish can be.
All-Tackle World Record — 94 Pounds, 2 Ounces
Weight: 42.69 kg (94 lb 2 oz)
Angler: David Deuel
Place: Hatteras, North Carolina
Date: Nov., 1984
Details: It’s only appropriate, and no surprise, that the All-Tackle world record red drum was caught in the waters off Hatteras, North Carolina. After all, every redfish to hold the All-Tackle title has come from this area, not to mention the countless other monsters that these waters have produced over the years. David Deuel’s massive 42.69 kg (94 lb 2 oz) red drum was caught from shore, just as every other All-Tackle submittal for redfish. Deuel was rigged up the same way as many other surf-casters were on the morning of Nov. 7, 1984 as he hit the beaches of Avon, North Carolina. However it was his chunk of mullet that was picked up by the heaviest redfish ever recorded. Nearly an hour after hooking up, Deuel pulled the huge drum ashore and immediately knew it was a special fish. The fish measured 57 inches in length (to the fork), and sported an incredible girth of 38 inches. Deuel’s monster redfish replaced the previous record by more than 10 pounds, and also earned him the 24 kg (50 lb) line class world record.
Men’s 8 kg (16 lb) Tippet Class on Fly — 43 Pounds
Weight: 19.5 kg (43 lb)
Angler: Dr. Greg Braunstein
Place: Banana River Lagoon, Florida
Date: May 7, 1995
Details: The title for the heaviest red drum on fly belongs to Dr. Greg Braunstein, who caught and released this beautiful 19.5 kg (43 lb) redfish on May 7, 1995 while stalking the shallows of Florida’s Banana River Lagoon with local guide Rodney Smith. Braunstein battled the drum for more than an hour, after it ate the custom fly he presented.
Men’s 3 kg (6 lb) Tippet Class — 41 Pounds
Weight: 18.59 kg (41 lb)
Angler: Jim Seegraves
Place: Houma, Louisiana
Date: April 2, 2004
Details: Arguably one of the more impressive redfish world records was caught by angler Jim Seegraves on April 2, 2004 while fly fishing out of Houma, Louisiana, USA. Seegraves battled this beautiful bronzed red drum for nearly two hours after the fish crushed the crab pattern fly he was casting from Capt. Dawny Ayo’s custom skiff. Why such a long fight? Seegraves was fishing with only 3 kg (6 lb) class tippet, and his record redfish tipped the scales at an impressive 18.59 kg (41 lb).
Women’s 3 kg (6 lb) Line Class — 44 Pounds
Weight: 19.96 kg (44 lb)
Angler: Maureen Klause
Place: Ocracoke, North Carolina
Date: Nov. 11, 2008
Details: Angler Maureen Klause, recent recipient of IGFA’s Bob Herder Light Tackle Award, set the women’s 3 kg (6 lb) line class world record for red drum on Nov. 11, 2008 with this gorgeous 19.96 kg (44 lb) specimen. Klause was fishing out of Ocracoke, North Carolina aboard the Drum Runner with local Captain Ernest Doshier when the fish ate the dead menhaden she was fishing on the bottom, right outside of the surf. Klause skillfully played the fish for approximately 45 minutes, before it could be landed. Once secured, the fish was quickly run to shore where it was properly documented and released alive.
Men’s 15 kg (30 lb) Line Class — 90 Pounds
Weight: 40.8 kg (90 lb)
Angler: Elvin Hooper
Place: Rodanthe, North Carolina
Date: Nov. 7, 1973
Details: At approximately 3 am on the morning of Nov. 7, 1973, angler Elvin Hooper hooked into an enormous red drum while fishing with a chunk of mullet from the Hatteras Island Pier in Rodanthe, North Carolina. After battling the stubborn fish for over an hour, Hooper had the fish alongside the pier, where it was eventually landed with a pier net. Tipping the scales at a whopping 40.8 kg (90 lb), Hooper’s fish became the biggest redfish specimen ever recorded by the IGFA at that time. Although the All-Tackle title has since been eclipsed, Hooper’s incredible catch still holds the men’s 15 kg (30 lb) line class record, and is the second largest red drum on record with the IGFA.
Women’s 6 kg (12 lb) Line Class — 51 Pounds, 8 Ounces
Weight: 23.4 kg (51 lb 8 oz)
Angler: Joan S. Dull
Place: Cape Hatteras, North Carolina
Date: Nov. 19, 1958
Details: One of the longest standing world records for redfish is also one of the most impressive. Angler Joan S. Dull of Wayne, Ohio, USA set the women’s 6 kg (12 lb) line class world record with this 23.4 kg (51 lb 8 oz) drum she caught on Nov. 19, 1958 while soaking a chunk of cut mullet in the surf off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, USA. Despite the large size of the fish and her light surf casting gear, Dull bested her record redfish in just 20 minutes – all done without the assistance of a boat and with only 15 inches of leader!
Men’s 2 kg (4 lb) Line Class — 52 Pounds, 5 Ounces
Weight: 23.74 kg (52 lb 5 oz)
Angler: George Hogan
Place: Indian River Lagoon, Florida
Date: Feb. 24, 1996
Details: Light tackle expert George Hogan has spent years pursuing IGFA world records for prestigious saltwater and freshwater game fish. However as Hogan describes in the testimony for his 2 kg (4 lb) line class record, “the day was planned to be a fun trip fishing with my sons.” But Hogan goes on to explain that “when the chance is there for another record catch, I’m always willing and prepared.” That was certainly the case on Feb. 24, 1996 when he caught and released this 23.74 kg (52 lb 5 oz) redfish while fishing Florida’s Indian River Lagoon. Hogan needed only 21 minutes to land the record fish after it ate the crab he was using for bait.
Men’s 3 kg (6 lb) Line Class — 51 Pounds, 8 Ounces
Weight: 23.36 kg (51 lb 8 oz)
Angler: Raleigh Werking
Place: Oriental, North Carolina
Date: Aug. 24, 1999
Details: Light tackle extraordinaire and past recipient of the IGFA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Raleigh Werking has set more than 50 world records over his incredible angling career, but few are as impressive as the 23.36 kg (51 lb 8 oz) redfish he caught on just 3 kg (6 lb) line. Werking was fishing with local guide George H. Beckwith, Jr. out of Oriental, North Carolina, USA on Aug. 24, 1999 when he caught this record redfish. Werking skillfully played the fish for just 20 minutes on his light tackle set-up, before the fish was landed, documented, and then released alive.
Women’s 6 kg (12 lb) Tippet Class — 40 Pounds
Weight: 18.14 kg (40 lb)
Angler: Dotty Ballantyne
Place: Venice, Louisiana
Date: Nove. 19, 2014
Details: On Nov. 19, 2014 while fishing out of Venice, Louisiana with guide David Mangum, Dotty Ballantyne caught and released this 18.14 kg (40 lb) redfish. Ballantyne set the women’s 6 kg (12 lb) tippet class record after skillfully playing the fish for approximately 30 minutes. Not only a world record, Ballantyne’s fish is also one of the heaviest fly-caught redfish ever recorded by the IGFA.