Black Drum

The black drum is the largest member of the drum family and inhabits mostly coastal or estuarine environments.
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Where and When?

Found along much of the shoreline of the western Atlantic Ocean, black drum are most commonly found in or near brackish waters, especially as juveniles. Their northernmost limit is Nova Scotia and they are present, sometimes abundant, in suitable areas down the eastern seaboard of the USA southwards around Florida and to the Texasshoreline. Their range continues through the Caribbean Sea and into South America from Venezuela to Argentina. Young fish often move far up estuaries and rivers while larger fish usually gravitate to deeper waters near river mouths or in coastal areas. As larger fish favour eating shellfish it is often a good strategy to fish in deeper waters close to oyster or mussel beds or areas with high crab densities. Black drum may be caught throughout the year and also during the day or through the night.

About Black Drum

Black drum (Pogonias cromis) are a fairly fast growing and long lived fish that can attain at least 51.3 kilograms (113 lb) over a lifespan of 43 years, with fish as large as 60 kilograms (132 ¼ lb) being reported. The young fish grow rapidly in the first year or two to reach maturity and then spawn in early spring, usually in or near the mouths of estuaries or rivers. They are mostly “bottom feeders” and usually eat invertebrates such as crabs and molluscs with their favourite food in many areas being various species of oyster. Young fish do predate on small fish but, as the species grows, fish decline in importance in diet and the fish generally move to deeper waters. They are dark in colour, though it can be various shades of grey or brown through to almost black. They have “barbles” on their mouths for locating food on the bottom and strong, grinding teeth for crunching up mollusks such as oysters and mussels.

How to Catch?

There are many successful ways to target black drum and the best way depends on the angler’s preferences and the locality. As the fish are “bottom feeders” and mostly caught close to shore or in estuaries or lagoons, shore fishing can be the best and easiest approach. In sheltered areas, however, small boats including kayaks can provide an excellent way to approach good fishing areas and catch excellent fish. No matter how you approach the area where the fish are feeding, natural bait fishing is usually the best method with a wide variety of baits being used successfully. In some areas large pieces of blue crab can be successful but most invertebrates cut into suitable sizes can work. Black drum often appear to “mouth” bait before swallowing and so a degree of patience when a fish bites is important. When the fish finally takes the bait and heads off strongly a long and ultimately usually rewarding fight can be anticipated. The use of a circle hook, and simply letting the fish “play” with the bait and then head off in his own time, can work well and reduce the chances of the fish not being hooked properly.