Photo Credit: Austin Scott
The “Big Ugly”
Pogonias Cromis, the Black Drum also known by Sea Drum, Oyster Cracker, and Banded Drum. These “slow movers” are members of the Drum family. They may be the most overlooked fish of all the inshore breeds. They can be a test for any angler once hooked, the fight is on.
Black Drum are the largest fish of the Drum family, they are usually grey or black in color and the juveniles have stripes and can be confused with Sheepshead. The telltale signs are the barbels located under the mouth that are used for sensory hunting. Black Drum are bottom feeders, they use their sense of smell to locate their prey, once located they have “cobblestone” type teeth that assist them in cracking shells and eating Crustaceans.
These lumbering creatures can be found as far North as Nova Scotia and as far South as Argentina. They can live up to 60 years and have weighed as much as 120 lbs. The younger fish can be found in brackish waters and as they mature they move to areas with higher salinity. In the Southern regions, Drum spawn in late Winter to early Spring.
Just like other members of the Drum family, Black Drum use their air bladders as a defense mechanism and a lure to attract mates during spawning. Black Drum's diets consist of oysters, mussels, crabs, shrimp and other small fish. The easiest way to catch them is by dead sticking their favorite delicacies. They do not move fast and they mouth their catch, waiting while the fish is chewing on the bait is the key. Artificial lures can be used, but are not near as effective as live or dead bait. These fish can be targeted by deep drop offs located by oyster beds, bridges and structure. Once caught, they are worthy adversaries, holding to the bottom with a fight much like their cousin, the Redfish.
As the Black Drum increases in size, the meat gets tougher and the parasites move in. Mature Drum are known to contain Spaghetti worms and are not worth the effort of cleaning and attempting to eat. The younger fish have some of the same taste qualities as other members of the Drum family.
Don't forget this species when targeting some of your favorite fish. The “Big Ugly” can put up a tremendous fight and possibly be one of the largest inshore fish you will ever catch.