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Black Drum Fishing Black Drum (Pogonias cromis) also known as: Common Drum, Drum, Sea Drum. Drums are members of the croaker family (Sciaenidae) which are comprised of 260 species including the weakfish, spotted seatrout, white seabass, Atlantic croaker, and California kingfish. Found in the western Atlantic Ocean from Nova Scotia to northern Mexico, including southern Florida, then from southern Brazil to Argentina.
The black drum is a chunky, high-backed fish with many barbels or whiskers under the lower jaw. Younger fish have four or five dark vertical bars on their sides but these disappear with age. The bellies of older fish are white but coloration of backs and sides can vary greatly. Fish from Gulf waters frequently lack color and are light gray or silvery. Those living in muddy bay waters have dark gray or bronze-colored backs and sides. Some are solid silvery gray or jet black. The largest black drum on record weighed 146 pounds. The black drum has the unusually large spine in the anal fin. There are large pavements like teeth in the throat that are used to crush shellfish. The black drum has no dark spot on the tail base. Juveniles have 4 or 5 broad, dark vertical bars on the body. Drums use their air bladder to create a sound similar to a drum beating. The black drum has highly developed pharyngeal teeth (in the pharynx or throat) which are used to crush mollusks and crabs before swallowing.
Drums are found in the clearest water of sand flats and in the muddiest waters of a flooding slough. They thrive in water so shallow that their backs are exposed, and also in the Gulf waters more than 100 feet deep. They are attracted to freshwater runoff of creeks and rivers, yet can live in waters twice as salty as the Gulf of Mexico. An inshore, schooling fish, the black drum is known to inhabit areas near breakwaters, jetties, bridge and pier pilings, clam and oyster beds, channels, estuaries, bays, high marsh areas, and the shorelines over sandy bottoms. They feed on mollusks and crustaceans that they locate in the sand with their sensitive shin barbels. Young drums feed on maritime worms, small shrimp, and crabs and small fish. Larger drum eat small crabs, worms, algae, small fish and mollusks. Barbels (or whiskers) are used to find food by feel and smell. Drum often dig or root out buried mollusks and worms while feeding in a head-down position.
The black drum is sluggish and does not strike quickly or with force, but when hooked, it puts up an exceedingly tough fight. Fishing methods include bottom fishing, casting from boats or shore, or slow trolling. Baits and lures include shrimp, clams, crabs, squid, cut fish, metal jigs, spoons, and weighted bucktails. Small drums of about 10-15 lb. (5-7 kg) are said to be good eating, though they are often infested with parasites. Fishing can be done from piers or from the bank and the entire family can join in. Black drum are rarely taken on artificial baits since most feeding is done by feel and smell. Cut fish, squid and shrimp are used, with peeled shrimp tails (preferably ripe and smelly) the most popular. Since feeding is done on the bottom, the basic technique is simple - put a baited hook on the bottom and wait for the drum to swallow it.
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