Is it a Black Drum or is it a Sheepshead?
At first glance, juvenile Black Drum, (the slot sized keepers that are so good to eat!) can be mistaken for the less tasty and harder to hook Sheepshead. They both have distinctive dark stripes over a gray body. They both have similar, stout body shapes as compared to the more streamlined Redfish. In addition, they often share the same habitat so a Sheepshead may be hooked when fishing for Black Drum.
But that's where the similarity ends. While Sheepshead only reach about 15 pounds in weight, Black Drum keep growing much larger and heavier. As juvenile Black Drum approach maturity from 12 to 24 inches in length, the dark stripes usually fade to dull gray and the fish takes on an overall dull gray, brownish or blackish color. Regardless of coloring however, Black Drum will always have a split dorsal fin compared to the Sheepshead's continuous dorsal fin. And of course, Sheepshead have those eerie human looking teeth!
Where Are Black Drum Found?
Black Drum can be caught pretty much where ever Red Drum (Redfish) are found. Like Redfish, Black Drum are found in all the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic coast. However, Redfish are only found as far north as Massachusetts while Black Drum can be found as far north as Nova Scotia. Like Redfish, juvenile Black Drum inhabit inshore waters while the large adults inhabit nearshore reefs.
Daytona Beach has Prime Black Drum Habitat!
While the big adult trophy Black Drum can be caught on nearshore fishing charters in Daytona Beach, these are, of course, the breeding stock and are catch and release only. For slot size "keepers", you'll need to go on an inshore fishing trip in Daytona Beach with Captain Ron to fish for juvenile Black Drum.
On an inshore fishing charter you'll be fishing the brackish waters and adjoining estuaries of the Halifax River and the Intracoastal Waterway near Daytona Beach, prime Black Drum habitat! This is where juvenile Black Drum live and feed until they reach adult size of about 24 to 26 inches and 4 to 5 years of age. At maturity, they leave the protected inshore waters for their new homes on nearshore reefs. Here, they'll remain for the duration of their lives although in some parts of their range, Black Drum will return to passes or inlets to spawn.
Are Black Drum Good to Eat?
You Bet! However, like redfish, juvenile black drum are much better table fare than the adults. And fortunately, like redfish, these tasty juvenile black drum are the "keepers". Young, juvenile black drum are usually indistinguishable in flavor from young redfish. Neither have an oliy, fishy taste and they have a moderate flavor. The flesh of older, mature redfish and black drum, usually over 15 pounds, can become coarse and have a consistency comparable with chicken, while the smaller fish have a light, succulent taste.
Inshore or Nearshore Fishing Charters, What's Best for Catching Black Drum?
If it's a trophy black drum you're after, book a Nearshore Fishing Charter in Daytona Beach with Captain Ron. You'll have to return monster black drum to the water since they are the breeding stock, but you can keep the memories of a thrilling, unforgettable fishing experience for a lifetime!
For a memorable Florida fishing adventure into the beautiful coastal rivers and estuaries near Daytona Beach and delicious black drum you can keep and eat, book an inshore fishing charter with Captain Ron.
Either way, You'll Have Fun Fishing with Captain Ron and Tightline Fishing Charters!