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September 26, 2020

What’s the difference between Red Fish and Drum?


Black Drum?


What’s the difference between redfish and a drum?

Well, that question might need a little clarification.  If you are asking the difference between a redfish and a red drum (sciaenops ocellatus), nothing.  They are the same fish.  It really just depends on what they are called in your area.

However, if you are wondering about the redfish and “a” drum, well, that’s different. The Black Drum (pogonias cromis) is a cousin to the Red Drum, with very many similarities and just as many differences.

Redfish aka Red Drum is known by many ‘nicknames’, such as channel bass, puppy drum, spot tail bass.  All the same fish the nomenclature depends on the preferences of the anglers of the local. “Reds” (as I will call them here) are fished in the Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to Florida, and in the Gulf of Mexico from Florida to northern Mexico.

Reds are the only species in the genus Sciaenops.  They have a bright copper bronze body with several large black /brownish spots on the fish’s tail.  It is thought that the spots are a decoy for the fish’s enemies which directs their attack to the tail rather than the head, improving chances of survival.

The nickname drum is due to the ‘drumming sound’ the fish emits when a male is being pulled from the water. That same sound by the males is used to attract females for mating.

Although the Red’s are a great deep-sea fish, it may surprise you to know that they also move into places with significant vegetation such as bay or even upriver where the water is more freshwater.  These migrations happen in the cooler months.  For the first three years of life, they tend to hang in shallow water near the edges of bays, before moving out to deeper water where spawning occurs near mouths of passes and shorelines.  As they grow larger and more mature you will find them in deep water, often around oil rigs.

Reds are extraordinarily strong and give the recreational angler quite a fight, earning the reputation of the most sought out  ‘game fish’.

The largest Red caught on record was a 94lb catch in Avon, NC in 1984.  It takes a Red about three years to reach the 6 – 8 lb weight.  Life spans can range up to 60 years of age.

The Black Drum like their cousins also has the distinction of being the only species in the genus Pogonias.  Unlike their cousins, they are devoid of the ‘spot’ and are grey or black colored with slightly angled vertical black stripes.  They have the same ability to make drumming sounds and are often found in the same vicinity as the reds, in fact, they do interbreed and produce a robust hybrid.

They are just like their cousins and put up a fight.  The world record black drum was 113 lbs.

Many names for the same fish, but only two true species exist, the ‘reds’ and the ‘black’.

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