Mature and immature male reds may “drum” when caught, making a sound similar to a small pig grunting.

“If you catch a redfish, and he’s drumming, you know the spawn is occurring or isn’t far away,” said guide Rick Patterson of Cape Carteret, N.C. “It’s usually July, August or September around here.”

Mature male redfish drum to attract females. Most spawning males are at least 28 inches long, and females first produce eggs at 33 inches. 

That’s one reason the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission established a slot limit of 18 to 27 inches: to protect the larger, spawning fish. No red drum shorter than 18 inches or longer than 27 inches may be kept by recreational or commercial fishermen, and recreational fishermen can keep only one slot fish per day.