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The Black Drum, Pogonias cromis

Somewhat similar to the redfish in shape, but usually distinguishable by color, and always by the fact that the drum has barbels, or feelers on the underside of the lower jaw. Juvenile black drum have black vertical stripes on dusky white sides. The stripes fade with age and adult drum are usually blackish above and white below, although some develop a decidedly bronze hue.

SIZE: Drum over 100 pounds have been caught and specimens weighing 30 to 50 pounds are not rare in many areas. Striped juveniles generally weigh 1-15 pounds. World record 113 pounds, 1 ounce; Florida record 96 pounds.

FOOD VALUE: Black drum to about 6 or 8 pounds are as tasty as redfish. Larger ones become quite coarse.

GAME QUALITIES: Strong, bullish fight, but not so tough as the redfish, size for size.

TACKLE AND BAITS: Surf tackle and saltwater boat rods are used when targeting big fish, but even the lunkers can be caught rather easily on spinning and casting tackle with a bit of patience. Fly fishing is a challenge. Any sort of crustacean, from shrimp to cut blue crab to whole small crab, makes fine bait for drum. Cut fish and squid work fairly well. Drum are not avid lure-chasers, but can be taken on slowly worked jigs in deep water, and by carefully presented streamer flies and jigs on the flats.

FISHING SYSTEMS: Still Fishing; Casting.


  • Drum
  • Striped Drum

RANGE: All Florida coasts.

HABITAT: Surf and estuarine areas. Most consistently productive fisheries for big drum are found in the St. Mary’s River estuary of the northeast coast, the Indian River, Tampa Bay and the Suwannee River estuary. Like redfish, small drum forage along shell bars, shorelines and on shallow flats. Big fish stick mostly to inside channels and surf.