Two prevalent fish to the coastal waters of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina are the Red Drum and Black Drum. These fish are sought after by anglers in the southeast because of both the taste and battle they put up when hooked. The two fish are in the same family but are distinctly different from each other. What is the difference between a red drum and a black drum?

Other Names for Red Drum and Black Drum

Both types of drum may be called different names by anglers which can cause confusion as to what type of fish it is. 

Red Drum

The red drum is also called redfish, red bass, channel bass, and puppy drum. Keep these in mind the next time you are listening to or reading a fishing report. 

Black Drum

A black drum does not have as many nicknames as a red drum. They are also referred to as drum or striped drum. Avoid confusing them with the sheepshead, otherwise known as a convict fish.

How to identify the red drum vs black drum

The two types of drum are not confused. They are distinctly different in appearance and, as a result, are easy to distinguish.

Red drum identification

First and foremost, they don’t have chin barbells. Secondly, they are bronze in color and have a minimum of one black-colored spot near the tail. 

Black drum identification

The black drum does not have any teeth and has vertical black stripes along both sides of the body. No matter the size, they will have barbels beneath the lower jaw.

How big do redfish and black drum grow

One of the only similarities between the two is the size in which they grow. Each drum is common between one and fifteen pounds. Generally, the black drum will have a larger population of heavier fish, but they both exceed 50 pounds. 

What kind of battle do the two drums put up

Both are strong fighters. The red drum edges out the black drum in its sporting qualities. Expect strong runs because the redfish has more strength and stamina. As for the black drum, they are strong but not as quick. 

How good is a red and black drum to eat

One of the primary targets of anglers in the southeastern United States’ coastal regions is the channel bass. They are sought after for both the fight and the taste.

A redfish is excellent table fare if it is under ten pounds. Large red bass takes on a gamier taste and is not recommended to keep.

The black drum, much like the redfish, is best to keep when the fish is small or under eight pounds. Some would say they are equally as good in taste as a red drum. The large black drum fillets will have a dark color and become coarse in texture, making them almost inedible. 

The key to remember for either of the two drums is to keep them when they are small but, of course, of legal size. 

What type of bait do drums eat

Fortunately, both the red drum and black drum consume an almost identical diet. Because the drum prefers the same bait and lives in the same habitat, both are often caught on a single fishing trip. 

Some of the most popular baits to catch drum include live or dead shrimp, crabs, or fish chunks. As far as artificials are concerned, the best presentation is by casting a jig. They do not prefer lures. 

So which drum is the best bet for anglers

The red drum is the clear-cut winner as to what an angler should target. One of the most notable differences is the quality of the fight. Redfish are one of the strongest fighting inshore fish. Beyond the battle, they are a very unique-looking fish, and they are excellent to serve up for dinner. However, don’t be disappointed if you get the chance to tussle with a black drum;  they, too, are tasty.