Red drum, also known as channel bass, redfish, spottail bass or simply reds, are a fish found in the Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to Florida and in the Gulf of Mexico from Florida to northern Mexico. They typically have a copper-red coloration with a dark spot near the base of their tail fin. Red drum are valued for their tasty flesh and are popular among recreational fishermen.
Red drum have a relatively typical appearance for members of the Sciaenidae family. They have a elongated, compressed body with a slightly forked tail. The most distinguishing feature of red drum is the large black spot near the base of the tail fin on both sides of the fish. The spot is used by anglers to distinguish red drum from other members of the Sciaenidae family, such as black drum (Pogonias cromis), which lack these spots. The base of the tail fin is usually slightly concave. The anal fin has 3-6 rays and is shorter than the second dorsal fin. The second dorsal fin and the caudal fin are both rounded. The pectoral fins are also rounded and do not extend past the base of the pelvic fins. The coloration of red drum varies depending on age and habitat, but they are typically a coppery-red color with silver sides. The belly is usually white or pale yellow.
Size and Location
Red drum grow to a relatively large size, with older fish reaching lengths of up to four feet (1.2 meters) and weights of up to 50 pounds (23 kilograms). They typically live for 20-30 years. Red drum are found in the coastal waters of the Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to Florida, and in the Gulf of Mexico from Florida to northern Mexico. They are most commonly found in estuaries, bays, and lagoons. However, they have also been known to enter freshwater rivers and lakes.
What do they eat?
Red drum are opportunistic feeders and will eat a variety of different prey items. Their diet typically consists of crabs, shrimp, squid, small fish, and small mollusks. Red drum typically feed on the bottom of their habitats, using their sense of smell to locate prey items.
Taste and How to Catch
Red drum are popular among recreational fishermen and are considered good table fare. They are typically caught with hook and line, but can also be caught with nets. Red drum are managed by state and federal governments in the United States. In 2007, the red drum was named the official saltwater fish of the state of Texas.