Family Sciaenidae, DRUMS
Other Names: Drumfish, Drummer, Gray drum
Identification & Biology: The black drum is a chunky, high-backed fish with 10 to 14 pairs of chin barbels or whiskers under the lower jaw. Younger fish have 4 or 5 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. 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”, although the large specimens can be either male or female. (The largest black drum on record weighed 146 pounds.)
Similar Fish: the vertical bars on juvenile black drum are somewhat similar to those on sheepshead, spadefish, and red drum.
Range & Habitat: Inshore fish are common to bays and lagoons; bottom dweller often found around oyster beds; also offshore. The black drum is found along the Atlantic Coast from New York south through the Gulf states to Mexico. It is most abundant in Texas, and is found in all bay and inshore Gulf waters. The area of greatest abundance in Texas is from Corpus Christi to Brownsville on the lower coast.
Largest member of the drum family; spawns near shore in winter and early spring; feeds on oysters, mussels, crabs, shrimp and occasionally fish; longevity to 35 or more years.
Market Description: *Drum, also known as croaker, is a firm, low fat fish found in temperate waters. Croakers, averaging 1 pound, are the small fry of the drum family and are usually sold whole. Most drum can weigh between 1 and 30 pounds. They are generally sold in fillets and steaks.
Habitat: Mostly Lake Pontchartrain Louisiana
Flavor profile: firm moist flesh, large flake, mild sweet flavor
Fishing technique: trotline
Special note: Drumming sounds from muscles against air bladder
Suitable sub: Red Snapper
Recommended Preparation: baked, broiled or fried