Often found in waters east of Orlando Black drum are a unique species in that they are the only species of fish found in the genus Pogonias. They are closely related to redfish and inhabit many of the same habitats.
Black drum are typically black and/or gray in appearance. As juveniles, they typically posses vertical dark stripes over their gray bodies. A black drum’s coloration typically fades as they reach adulthood and can appear dark gray to a gold/gray color. Black drum posses chin barbels, somewhat like catfish. They use these highly sensitive barbels to help locate prey.
Black drum have pharyngeal teeth, which look like cobblestones that line the tops and bottoms of their mouths and throat. These teeth are adapted to crush hard shelled crustaceans and mollusks, such as oysters and other shellfish. Their favorite foods include crabs, shrimp, clams, oysters and small fish.
Black drum are the largest of the drum species. Generally found in the 5-30 lb range, some fish have been known to reach weights up to 90 pounds. The world record black drum weighed 113 pounds, and Florida’s state record weighed 96 lbs.
Thriving in the waters east of Orlando Black drum are mostly found in lagoons and bays. They tend to hang around oyster beds, bridges, deep water canals, and dock pilings, that offer structure and hiding places for their favorite prey. Young black drums typically eat worms and small fish, but as they reach adulthood they typically prey on crabs shrimp and other mollusks and crustaceans.
These fish are bottom dwellers, and therefore, you need to get your bait on the bottom or just slightly suspended above it.
When the water levels drop in the Lagoon, look for the black drum to make appearances on the flats and just off the shallow bars. They form large schools and will often swim in circles. They are slow eaters and often take time to eat, so be patient when you feel them taking the bait.
Black drum will also “tail” much like their cousins the redfish, when searching for food. Their tails are more triangular and often appear darker in color.
Regardless of the size of drum you are catching you are in for a great fight! They may not make the long, powerful, and quick runs that redfish do, but they will pull and pull hard till the end.
My favorite bait to use for drum are shrimp. I also like using chunks of blue crab especially for the bigger fish. Drum can also be caught on jigs and flies. Gulps also work very well.
Remember, drums are lazy feeders and will not try to chase down fast moving bait. Get that bait out in front of them and let the drum with their sensitive smell find the bait.