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by In-Fisherman   |  August 22nd, 2012 7

How is the value of a gamefish measured?
If accessibility, fighting ability, and palatability deserve any merit, the freshwater drum must rank near the top of the list. How accessible? Drum have the largest latitudinal range of any freshwater fish in North America — from the Nelson River in Manitoba to the Rio Usumacinto system in Guatemala, a span of over 2,500 miles. How sporting? They readily take natural and artificial baits and fight harder than largemouth bass. How tasty? Some prefer the drum’s firm, white, and boneless fillets to walleye.


Rod: 6 1/2- to 7 1/2-foot medium- or medium-heavy-power spinning or casting rod.
Reel: medium-capacity spinning or baitcasting reel.
Line: 10- to 20-pound-test mono.

Natural baits and artificial lures presented on the bottom are most effective. Drum feed primarily on insect larvae, crayfish, clams, and other organisms that live on the bottom of lakes and rivers, and therefore are accustomed to foraging down. Drifting float rigs or swimming jigs a foot or two off the bottom often fails to trigger neutral fish. Natural baits like crayfish tails, night crawlers, and cutbait will catch drum, but artificials trigger more strikes when fish are active. Deep-diving crankbaits, jigging spoons, bladebaits, and other lures scuffed along the bottom are most effective.

The drum’s widespread distribution is due in part to its sophisticated sensory system. Large earbones enhance hearing and allow for orienting in dark or turbid water. The long lateral line, which extends from the gill to the tip of the tail, also increases the fish’s ability to locate and attack prey where vision is limited. So while drum prefer clear water, they’re obviously equipped to thrive in adverse conditions. In rivers, drum prefer a hard bottom with moderate current-the edge of flats and the base of riprap shorelines are ideal locations. In lakes, they prefer shallow flats with little weedgrowth.

Cast bladebaits upstream of your target to allow it to reach bottom. Reel in slack line as you raise your rod tip to a 30-degree angle. Slowly raise your rod to 45 degrees so the lure almost drags across the bottom, then move your rod tip back down as you retrieve slack line. Dig crankbaits down to the bottom, then adjust your retrieve speed to maintain contact. Set rigs are easier for drum to locate in fast or murky water, but drift rigs cover more water in moderate current.

  • Hunter

    Yup! Most people think the drum is bad eating! I read all these bad reviews and think they could not have eaten them! They tastvgreat!

  • Spacepuppy

    They fight better than most any freshwater fish…IMHO

  • Paul Andrulis

    I have eaten drum, and say what a person want to, they are better eating than bass. They have a really mild flavored and tender fillet. This is true of ten pound plus drum, as well.

  • Bluegill Fishing

    I agree, they fight extremely hard and will strike just about any bait. They are everywhere on the upper Missippi. I can’t help but be disappointed though when I think I have a nice Smallie and it turns out to be a drum.

  • Mason

    No doubt. Drum are delicious, particularly sweet, well textured, and not at all fishy tasting.

  • Thomas Luedeke

    I’ve never understood the scorn so many fisherman heap upon this species, calling it a trash fish. To me, carp are a trash fish, and putting sheepshead in that same category is absurd.

    Drum fight like mad, get quite large, bag limits are liberal, and the meat is reminiscent of cod – a mild, pleasant flavored, thick white fillet. I don’t know about better tasting than walleye, but it certainly is one of the better tasting fish to me.

  • Rod

    It’s a Freshwater Redfish. I don’t know who started the rumor they are no good eat, but maybe that person, or persons wanted to keep them all to theirselves? I missed out on lot of good eating over the years beccause I believed what a few others had told me about them.

    IMPORTANT:***THIS IS THE KEY*** Place your catch on ice, or in ice cold water immediately. If you put Drum in a wire basket, on a stringer, or sometimes even in the live well, they quickly die, and the flesh rapidly spoils.

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