Black Drum

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Black Drum

Species Information

Scientific Name:Pogonias cromis
Common Names:black drum
Environment:Inshore, Surf
Ideal Temp:59-77°F (15-25°C)

About Black Drum

The black drum (Pogonias cromis) is a saltwater fish similar to its cousin, the red drum. It is the only species in the genus Pogonias. Though most specimens are generally found in the 5-30 lb (2–14 kg) range, the black drum is well known as the largest of all the drum family with some specimens reaching excesses of 90 lbs (40 kg). The world record black drum was just over 113 lbs (51 kg). They are often black and/or gray in color with juvenile fish having distinctive dark stripes over a gray body. Their teeth are rounded and they have powerful jaws capable of crushing oysters and other shellfish. It is recommended those over 15 lbs pounds (7 kg) should be released. Black drum are capable of producing tones between 100 Hz and 500 Hz when performing mating calls.

The black drum is usually found in or near brackish waters. Larger, older fish are more commonly found in the saltier areas of an estuary (closer to the ocean) near oyster beds or other plentiful food sources. Juvenile fish have 4 to 6 bold vertical black bars on a light background and can be mistaken for Sheepshead at first glance, but are distinguished on closer inspection because sheepshead have teeth and black drum have chin barbells. These stripes usually fade to dull grey as the fish grow from 12" to 24" in length. Juvenile fish are more commonly found in less salty areas and relate more strongly to structure and cover. In the western Atlantic, black drum are found from Nova Scotia to Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, the Antilles (uncommon), and the southern Caribbean coast; also from the Orinoco delta to Argentina. They are common between the Delaware Bay and Florida coasts, and most abundant along the Texas coast. After reaching maturity by the end of their second year, black drum spawn in and around estuarine waters. In Texas, most spawning takes place in February and March.

Black drum larvae eat mostly zooplankton, and young black drum (less than 20 cm long) eat worms and small fish. Black drum are mostly bottom feeders, with adults eating mostly mollusks and crabs. In shallow water, they have been reported to feed with their heads down so that their tails show above the water surface. Their sensitive chin barbels help locate food, and strong pharyngeal teeth crush the shells of these preferred foods. It has been reported that, in captivity, large drum were able to eat more than two commercial-sized oysters per kilogram of body weight each day. This translates into the potential for a 20 kg drum (about 45 lb) to eat 40 oysters a day. Fishing advice for black drum along the east and southeast coasts of the United States often includes the suggestion to locate an oyster bed. 

Black drum are bottom feeders, so they are most commonly caught with bait either on the bottom or suspended within a couple feet of the bottom. Bottom fishing methods are used both in surf fishing and inshore fishing. Shrimp is a typical bait that works well; squid can also be used and is less subject to bait stealing by hardhead catfish and Atlantic croakers which often frequent the same waters. There are times when the older, larger fish are more readily caught on a half or a quarter of a blue crab with the top shell removed and cut or broken to fit on a 4/0 to 9/0 hook. This type of fishing is often combined with chumming, a baiting practice that involves scattering bits of fish parts and blood into the water as an attractant.Sometimes black drum are caught on spoons and jigs.

Black drum are reported to mouth a natural bait, so anglers need to wait a few seconds before setting the hook. Once a big adult drum grabs the bait, it takes off with gusto, and can put up quite a fight. An unsecured rod can easily be pulled into the water. Landing these big fish on light tackle can be challenging, and since drum are primarily scent-based feeders, there is little disadvantage in using heavier line and tackle. A 40-lb braided line with a comparable weight fluorocarbon leader is a good compromise between castability and strength. However, big drum are frequently caught with everything from 8-lb monofiliment to 100-lb braided lines with heavy steel leaders.

An effective strategy for fishing from a boat is to select a spot with a sandy bottom or oyster bed where food is plentiful at a time of day with some tidal movement. Pier or bank fishing should target jetties, structure, or a boat channel near a rapid increase in depth and some tidal movement. With stout tackle, black drum above 10 lbs are relatively easy for children to catch because they are not particularly skittish and do not easily come off once they are hooked. Because bigger drum can make a long, strong run right after taking the bait, preventing broken line often requires a relatively light drag setting early in the fight.

Black Drum Fishing

World Record:51.28 kg (113 lb 1 oz) Lewes, Delaware, USA
# Fish Caught:4655607 documented in database.
Earliest Record:1/1/1830 12:00:00 AM and located at 29.36809, -94.84530.
Latest Record:3/19/2024 8:18:00 PM and located at 30.66968, -81.46259.
Common Techniques:Bottom Fishing
Popular Lure Types:Bottom Rig
Fishing Spots:198 Black Drum fishing spots.

Latest Black Drum Fishing Reports and Spots

Zac Odom & young son Jack doubling on a couple of reds. Zac & Jack caught some sea trout redfish and a black drum. Pretty Nice! - 3/15/2024 12:39:31 PM


May Fishing Biloxi Mississippi 2023 - 4/16/2023 8:26:54 AM

Fishing Biloxi 2023 As May fishing approaches in Biloxi we see a big change in fish species Yes we can still catch the White Trout Ground Mulle (View)

Biloxi Fall October November Winter Fishing 2023 - 9/1/2023 2:25:19 PM

Fall And Winter Fishing 2023 If you’re coming to Biloxi Mississippi in October or November don’t miss out on some hot fall and winter fishing a (View)

Barely Legal - 3/15/2024 7:48:00 PM

 I fished with the Langfords this morining Glenn and Patti meeting them up at the Old Town Bait and Tackle boat ramp. We had the first of an in (View)

Trout Carry The Afternoon - 3/15/2024 8:00:00 PM

 I fished this afternoon with Eric Stevens meeting him up at the Old Town Bait and Tackle boat ramp. We had a high and still coming in tide as (View)

Wind and Cool Make for a Challenge - 3/19/2024 8:05:00 PM

 When I stepped out side this morning in the dark to get the boat ready I was a bit surprised by the wind still kicking. I knew the forecast ca (View)

A Grande Slam and Upper Slot Red - 3/19/2024 8:18:00 PM

  I did  an afternoon trip today meeting Nate Aron his father Aaron and his father-in-law Gil Langley up at Eagans Creek. The wind had died a l (View)

Weekly Forecast (3.12.24 – 3.18.24) - 3/11/2024 4:45:38 PM

The weather looks to be shaping up beautifully for some great conditions on the water this week. Plus we've got a load of great content for you (View)

February 2024 Fishing Report – Stuart FL - 1/31/2024 8:54:02 AM

Inshore Fishing Report January brought a variety of species to our anglers fishing inshore. On one of Capt. Justin Rieger’s recent trips on the (View)

Charter fishing in Charleston and Folly Beach Fishing - 1/31/2024 9:49:17 AM

Charter fishing in Charleston and Folly Beach fishing has been good as we enjoy another mild winter. Deep Sea fishing charters have been produc (View)