Have you ever been fishing before? Not fishing based on lucky casts with worms or a bobber but fishing based on knowledge of what the fish do under the waves. I’ve been interested in fishing since the beginning of my time here on earth.
Fish fascinate me, and catching them on rod and reel excites my inner primal being. I chose this topic to get into the mind of the fish I aim to catch. I already know much about my quarry. I know that Red Drum come in from the ocean to spawn in salt water back bays. I know that Black Drum eat stuff off the ocean bottom.
I also know that Red Drum get caught by anglers during their search of spawning territory. These are the few facts I know about Drum. I want to learn much more. I want to learn enough to be called Ryan the Drum slayer.’ I wonder where drum go while in open ocean? I wonder where Drum spawn and why they spawn there? I wonder how big the biggest Drum ever caught is? These questions and many more encircle my head. I hope in reaching up and snatching a circling question, then answering it, I can become the greatest fisherman in the world.
What is the scientific name of the Red and Black Drums? Well this answer is easy. The Red Drum’s scientific species name is Sciaenops ocellatus.(Red Drum in Texas). The Black Drum’s scientific species name is Pogonias cromis. (Black Drum in Texas). Where exactly do the fish live? The Black Drum is found in the Western Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts coasts to Southern Floridian coasts. The Black Drum is found across the Gulf of Mexico an into North Mexican shores.
The Black Drum rarely is found North of New Jersey (Schaltz, Ken “Black Drum”). Red Drum are found in the western Atlantic Ocean. They inhabit the coastal waters from the gulf of Maine to the Florida Keys and all of the gulf coasts to Northern Mexico. (Schaltz “Red Drum”). The Red drum are an estuarine-dependent fish that morphs into an oceanic fish later on in life. It can be found in brackish water or saltwater.
It can be swimming above sand, mud, or weeds. It is found in weeds of shallow inlets, bays, tidal passes, bayous, and estuaries (Schaltz “Red Drum”). Why the drum head out of their sheltered bays and into the ocean is a mystery. What is known is that Red Drum grow up in Estuary waters. They grow fairly swiftly and around age four weighing ten to fifteen pounds they leave the shallow waters for the open ocean of either the Atlantic or Gulf. (McNally, Bob).
Why do Black and Red Drum live where they do? It is not known why Red Drum head out into the ocean. It is a mystery to scientists. Juveniles are routinely caught offshore. This defies what some scientists believe to be true.
Thus, when it comes to explaining why Red Drum live where they do scientists know about as much as the fishermen who catch Red Drum in different areas (Moore, Chester). What exactly do Black and Red Drum eat? The Red drum eats a multitude of things. It is somewhat like me. It enjoys the finer things, specifically crab. As a young pup, Juvenile Red drum develop a taste for small crabs, shrimp, and marine worms.
As the Red drum matures he moves on to larger more filling morsel. He preys on larger crab, shrimp, and fish (Moore). Now the Black drum, like his brother, has very good taste in seafood. He, as a young pup, likes to slurp up marine worms, shrimp, small crab, and small fish. Once Mr. Black drum gets older he chows down on Blue crabs, Shredder crabs, shrimps, oysters, and squid (Rod and Reel.com, Inc) How do Black Drum and Red Drum eat? The Red Drum eat with their mouths like most normal fish.
They don’t have much for tongues and taste buds but that’s ok because there brains are too small to grasp the concept of tastiness. The Red drum feed in two noticeably different patterns. The first method of nourishment is for the Red drum to hide behind structure such as weeds, wrecks, downed trees, reefs, and holes, then when a baitfish swims past the Red drum jump out and ambush the poor critter. Also Red drum gather in schools near surf or reefs. The school of Red drum feed on other fish and all the while having some protection from predators (Red Drum).
The second way drum eat is by using their down turned mouths to vacuum food up off the bottom of the sea. If these feeding drum are in shallow water, their tails can sometimes be seen protruding out of the surface of the water (Red Drum). Now Black drum feed a little bit differently. They rarely use the ambush tactic of prey catching.
They more prefer the easier, maybe even lazier way of feeding. The Black drum swim the bottom of the sea with their heads slightly lowered thus dragging their barbells over possible food items (Horst, Jerald). Barbells are whiskers that protrude out of the under side of a drums mouth. Now when these barbells encounter a food item the drum stops swimming and uses the vacuum technique, mentioned earlier, to suck the morsel up.
The vacuum suction is created by the Drum’s gill covers and mouth. Once the morsel is in the Black drum’s mouth the fish uses its pharyngeal teeth to crush the morsel making it edible. Pharyngeal teeth are rough abrasive teeth like chompers located in the Black drum’s throat. When in the process of chomping, little bits of shell fall out of the Black drum’s gills. Once the Black drum is done grinding he spits out the shells of the morsel and swallows the nourishing part (Horst, Jerald).
When and Where to Black and Red drum spawn? The Black drum get their name, from the drumming sound the males make during spawning time. The males make drumming sounds to attract females. The Black drum begin spawning when the water gets to 57-68*F (Fisheries Service/Maryland DNR.). In the south the water usually achieves this temp around January. Then as the water temps rise the Black drum spawn over a 14 week period from January to April (Horst). The sites of Black drum spawning action are directly related to the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water but all spots are a type of pass or channel.
Once a spot is chosen a female spawns twenty to thirty times. The spawned eggs drift into the coastal inlets by the force of the tides rushing in or out to sea by that same force. The little Black drum eventually hatch and, if not already in a backwater bay, are carried by tidal currents into a bay. Once in the bay the baby Black drum grow up in marshes (Horst). The Black drums in the north do their business at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay or at the mouth of other coastal inlets (Fisheries Service/Maryland DNR.).
The Black drum can lay between 11-60 million eggs (Horst). The Red drum, like his brother, spawns in areas of fast strong tidal current. The Red drum’s spawning period takes place over an 8 to 9 week period from mid-August to Mid-October. During this period all the Red drum dudes congregate in massive schools around spawning areas. The dudes in these schools make drumming sounds to attract females, thus these schools are called drumming aggregations.
The female produces 20-40 million eggs per spawning season (Horst). Why do they spawn there? The Black drums spawn at the mouths of bays so that the tidal currents will transport their young into the bays where the young drum grow and live. Where do Red drum and Black Drum go while in open water? Do Red and Black Drum have migration patterns and what are they? The Red drum have not been studied a lot by scientists but the studies scientists have done show no recognizable migration patterns. Anglers on the other hand have noticed Red Drum concentrate in rivers or tidal creeks during winter (Red Drum in Texas). During the day Red drum do move around some.
They move from shallow to deeper water or vise versa with the changing of tides and water temperature (Red Drum in Texas). According to tag returns, Red drum generally stay within three miles from where they were born (Red Drum in Texas). Now ole brother Blackie is different. He moves little on a day to day basis, yet he has been recorded taking huge migrations.
Tagging studies in Texas have recorded migrations of 245 miles in one year (Black Drum in Texas). Normally though as long as food and habitat are sufficient, Black drum are content to hang out where they are. If food and habitat become inadequate for some reason Black drum do migrate to better swimming grounds (Black Drum in Texas). Why do Black and Red drum migrate the way they do? Red drum don’t really migrate, but Black drum do. The Black drum migrate in order to find better food and habitat. How long do Black and Red drum live? The Red drum are alive for a decent amount of time.
They live longer than a dog or cat. They commonly live for twenty five to thirty five years (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission), but just like we humans have some 115 year old dude, the Red drum has an anomaly. The all-tackle word record Red drum was reportedly 53 years old (Schultz). That is one old fat fish.
Black drum live a similar amount of time. Some Black drum age studies have been done and these studies usually estimate Black drum age at over 40 years although one crazy crew in Florida estimated a max age of 58 (Horst) How large do Black and Red drum get?The Red drum in the Atlantic get a little bit larger than the drum in the Gulf of Mexico. The largest drum ever caught was a ninety four pound monster off the cost of North Carolina. The largest Red drum caught in Florida weighed fifty one pounds, and was caught in Sebastian Inlet in 1983. (Florida Marine Research Institute).
Now our friend the Black drum grows to a larger size than his brother Red, the Texas state record is a behemoth fish of seventy eight pounds (Black drum in Texas). The world record was caught out of Delaware and was a fish of one hundred and thirteen pounds (Black drum). Now in Virginia a massive Black drum was raised out from the depths. This creature rivaled the world record. It weighed one hundred and eleven pounds and was caught out of Cape Charles in 1973 (Coates, Charles). Are there any fishing tournaments for any of these species? If so, what are they? What are the best fishing tactics for each? Where are the best areas of angling? What is the largest fish caught by and angler? For the answer to this question I called up a fishing guide.
I called Captain Rick Hiott at his fishing charter office in Charleston, South Carolina. Rick has been fishing all his life, growing up in Charleston. He got into the guiding business with some prompting from a friend who said he is a good fisher’. He guides using a 21 ft Baycraft boat. The largest fish he has been a part of catching is a 47 inch 45 pound Red drum.
He caught this fish at Grillage off of Solivan’s Island. “Red drum’ll bite on anything. I fish em on bottom in about 25 to 40ft. For rigging I use 20lb braided line tied to an 80lb leader with a Carolina rigged Blue Crab,” said Hiott. When describing how Red drum fight once hooked Hiott said, “It’s a good hard pull, not a long fight though.” When asked whether a Red drum, once hooked, more resembled being hooked to a sports car or a train, Hoitt said, “A train.” Works Cited Black Drum.
1 Nov. 2004. Discover the Outdoors.com, Inc. 1 Nov. 2004 .
Black Drum. 6 Oct. 2003 Fisheries Service / Maryland Department of Natural Resources. 1 Nov.
2004 . Black Drum. 1 Nov 2004. 1 Nov. 2004. Black Drum in Texas.
29 Oct. 2004. Texas Parks and Wildlife. 29 Oct. 2004 .
Coates, Charles. “Beating the Drum: Virginia’s Saltwater Best Bet.” Virginia Game & Fish Magizine. (2003): . Florida Marine Research Institute.
Red Drum. 8 Oct. 2004. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. 8 Oct.
2004 . Horst, Jerald. Drum, Black. 1 Nov.
2004. RodandReel.com. 1 Nov. 2004 . Moore, Chester.
Life of the Redfish. 2002. Texas Fish and Game Publishing. 30 Oct.
2004 . Red Drum. 8 Oct. 2004 Discover the Outdoors.com, Inc. 8 Oct. 2004 .
Red Drum in Texas. 29 Oct. 2004. Texas Parks and Wildlife. 29 Oct. 2004 Schultz, Ken.
“Fish of the Week- Black Drum.” Field and Steam Nov (2004): 28 Oct. 2004 . Schultz, Ken. “Fish of the Week- Red Drum.” Field and Steam Nov (2004): 28 Oct. 2004 .