Most inshore saltwater anglers know a few drum species, for instance, the red drum aka redfish. The red drum is one of the most sought after game fish among inshore species. Most anglers also know the Black Drum, or what I like to call big ugly. The species gets the name from the drumming sound they produce by using special muscles to rub against their air bladder. The sound is mostly used as a spawning mechanism or in some instances to communicate between fish. But the drum species list is vast, and contains some surprising members. Let’s take a look.
Red Drum: Aka redfish
These fish are typically easy to identify. Most fish are Copper-bronze in color (lighter in clearer water) with large scales and with a black dot near the base of tail. Some fish can have multiple spots along either side of its body. Their habitat is spread out but can be found inshore along seagrass beds, along oyster bars or creek mouths. Their diet consists of mullet, pinfish, crabs and mud minnows and can be caught using any of these as bait or even topwater plugs, spoons or soft plastics. Red Drum can get quite large with the IGFA record weighing in at 94lbs.! They make excellent table fare with redfish on the halfshell being a popular way of preparation.
You may here some of the bigger ones as being referred to as big ugly. Black Drum have large scales, and a high-arched back with a grey or black colored body. Juveniles will have 4 to 6 vertical lines, not to be confused with Sheepshead. Black Drums are the largest member of the drum family and can be found inshore as well as offshore. They are bottom dwellers and feed on oysters, crabs, mussels and shrimp. They live upwards of 30 years with the record weighing in at 113lbs.
Spotted Seatrout: Aka specs
The most surprising of the drums, the Spotted Seatrout have a dark grey or green back that becomes silver and white down toward the belly. They have numerous black dots along their back that extend into the dorsal fin and tail. Their most unique characteristic is their long canines protruding from their upper jaw. You can find these seatrout scattered throughout the seagrass beds, in deep holes and channels or along oyster bars. Their diet consists mostly of mullet, shrimp, crabs and other baitfish. Record fish weighs in at 17lbs. and was caught in Ft. Pierce, FL. These are the most common of the drum family, but certainly not all. Some other notable drum family members include: Atlantic Croaker, Gulf Kingfish, Southern Kingfish, Sand Seatrout, Silver Seatrout, Silver Perch and Weakfish.
Information gathered from myfwc.com (http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/profiles/saltwater/drums/)