The black drum (Pogonias cromis) belong to the popular drum family of fishes, which owe their name to their characteristic drumming sound they make as they make their way through the waters especially during courtship. They belong to the Sciaenidae family.
It is a widely famous saltwater game fish known for the intense fight they put up during fishing and fine, quality meat. They are also known as the drum or drummer, Texas Drum, Sea Drum, Saltwater Drum, Gray Drum, Drumfish, Striped Drum, Tambor and is closely related to the redfish.
About Black Drum fish
The black drum fish is a high-backed, jet-black, dark gray or bronze-colored fish with a high-backed fish with multiple barbels or whiskers under their lower jaw. Those found in Gulf waters are light gray or silver, with a pale underbelly.
They have about four of five dark vertical stripes on their sides when juvenile which fade on growing.
They feed on a variety of small and large organisms such as mollusks, crustaceans,clams,oysters,crabs and shrimps. They use their barbels and special electroreceptors to detect the presence of prey in the bottom of lakes and rivers.
Average black drum fish size
The black drum fish grow to an average of 6 inches in the first year, 12 inches in its second year and 16 inches in 3rd year after which it grows 2 inches every year.The highest recorded weight for black drum is a whopping 146 pounds. On an average they weigh between 30-40 pounds.
Small fish, under a pound in weight, are sometimes called “butterfly drum” while those of larger size, 30 pounds and more, are called “bull drum”.
Where to find black drum fish
Black drum fish are abundantly found in Texas, also along the Atlantic Coast from New York south through the Gulf states to Mexico in both inshore and offshore waters. They can adapt to a wide range of habitats: saltwater, freshwater, sand flats, muddy waters.They can survive in both shallow waters and waters as deep as 100 feet deep. In summers, they’re commonly seen in shallow waters.
They are attracted to freshwater runoff of creeks and rivers, yet can live in waters twice as salty as the Gulf of Mexico. This adaptability makes the black drum available to more anglers than any other bay fish
Best live and artificial bait
The best baits for black drum are live shrimp, crabs. Blue crabs, in particular, are widely considered to be the best bait for black drum. Other excellent baits are fiddler crabs, live or dead shrimp, sand Fleas and clams.
The 4 inch gulp shrimp with 1/8 ounce jig head or 3-5 inch paddle tail with a 1/8-1/2 ounce jig head.
The best lure for fishing inlets is a shrimp tipped feather jig or a scented imitation shrimp on a jig head. In murky waters, gold spoon or a spinner bait can be effective. Black drum are rarely taken on artificial baits since most feeding is done by feel and smell
How to catch black drum fish
A medium-large saltwater reel , spool with 122 to 20 lb braided line are required for fishing the black drum. Bottom fishing is the best option to for black drum fish- put a baited hook on the bottom and wait for the drum to swallow it. For a bottom fishing rig one will need a 30 lb test monofilament or fluorocarbon leader, a 3 oz egg sinker, 1 barrel swivel, a plastic fishing bead, and a size 1/0 or 2/0 circle hook..Fishing can also be done from piers or from the bank.
Best rig for black drum fish
- Drop-shot rig: Place a 1-ounce sinker on a 30-pound monofilament leader about 1 yard long. To this ass a 2/0 size Gamakatsu hook. About 12 inches from the sinker, create a knot with a loop. The sinker helps hold the bait to the bottow where one is more likely to catch the drum fish.
- Carolina rig: With a Carolina rig, live or dead shrimp on a 1/0 or 2/0 Owner or Gamakatsu hook.
- Free line with split shot: This is the quickest way to get a shrimp in the water on the bottom because you don’t need to tie anything on except a good Owner/Gamakatsu hook. About 2 feet from the hook add a big split-shot on the line.
Tackle can be rod and reel, trotline, hand line or cane pole.tackle depends on the size of the fish-light tackle for smaller ones and heavier rods with plenty of backbone for the large finds.
Drum will often “mouth” the bait for some time before swallowing it, so anglers must wait until the fish moves off with the bait, then jerk the rod tip up to set the hook. Expect a strong “tug” or a fierce fight from the drum fish upon being hooked.
best time/season to catch
As far as seasons go, in summers black drum can be found in shallow water. One can easily spot schools of black drum in the clear waters near the shore.
During the colder months, drum of all sizes move towards the deeper waters and channels and the Gulf surf. They are then taken on bottom rigs along channel slopes, in the open bay and in the surf.
In the winter and early spring, black drum come into small estuaries to spawn
Tips on how to catch black drum fish
- Patiently cast and wait until the fish mouth your bait. They take their time and move towards the bait. Hence quietly and calmly wait until the black drum reach your bait.
- To set the hook make sure you don’t use any sudden jerky movements that would scare the fish away.
- Begin reeling in quickly until fully hooked.
- Leave a scent trail by breaking of a shrimp and gradually luring the black drum.
- Look for them in areas which have vegetation or some form of cover structure, piers, rocks, mangroves, roots of trees.
- Try using slow moving jigs tipped with bait.
- Let your bait flow with the current , do not forcefully drag it around.
- Keep rod tip up and make sure drag is not too loose. They can wrap around structure very quickly.
- Trail the fish, keep your distance, do not scare them off with loud noises.