Puppy drum, the ones that are about 20 inches, make the perfect eating size. As they grow older, the stripes fade and the two are easier to tell apart. Juvenile Drum have black vertical stripes on dusky white sides, as do Sheepshead (which see). Instead, the fish tends to move in east-west movements around inlets during the fall and winter, when adult sheepshead migrate out into the ocean to spawn,” said Markwith. And although there currently is no federal regulation governing the sheepshead fishery, there are rules that apply in North Carolina, and it’s important to know the difference between sheepshead and another fish that bears a resemblance. They are more of a silvery-bronze in coloration, and their bodies give-off an iridescent spectrum of colors when struck by any light source, such as a dive light while scuba diving. This also allowed a greater number of fish to spawn before being caught by fishermen,” Markwith said. In the past 10 years their popularity has grown exponentially. “Recreational harvest accounted for 84% of North Carolina’s total harvest in pounds from 2009 to 2018, and 89% of the 2018 harvest. As redfish feed on crustaceans, their tail often breaks the water’s surface. Common methods include hand lines, spinning tackle and cane poles, which allow feeling when the fish strikes their bait. Strong Angler Cameron Parsons with a nice kingfish. Gill nets in estuaries and pound nets account for more than 70% of the commercial landings in the past 10 years. At first glance, juvenile Black Drum, (the slot sized keepers that are so good to eat!) They are known for putting up quite the fight. Sheepshead and black drum tend to flock to these spots for breakfast. 5.9k members in the saltwaterfishing community. Saltwater fishing is the practice of catching fish with lines and fish hooks … In contrast, juvenile black drum were found along marsh grass shorelines. Total length is measured along the midline from the tip of the compressed tail to the tip of the snout, according to the Division of Marine Fisheries. This species spawns offshore during spring months and then returns to coastal and estuarine habitats to feed and continue growing as youngsters. Many consider the red drum and black drum to be like cousins: they are generally found in the same area and feed on the same things. Both species have a vertical pattern of black and gray bars or stripes. North Carolina anglers can look forward to 30-50 pound catches; while Gulf of Mexico reds (from Florida to Texas) are typically around the ten pound average. Sheepshead, convict fish, sheephead, sheepshead seabream, and southern sheeps head are common English language names. The reason so many inshore anglers love to target puppy drum is because they make great table fare. “This species grows quickly until around 6 years of age, then the growth rate slows down. To catch sheepshead, a lot of fisherman use chum to attract the fish closer to their hooks. Sheepshead are comparatively large and long-lived members of the porgy, or scup family. Is it a Black Drum or is it a Sheepshead? The size limit for black drum is no smaller than 14 inches and no more than 25 inches total length, except one fish per day may be more than 25 inches. Rarely, anglers will also encounter a “spotless” red. A juvenile sheepshead. “In November 2013, the rule was approved, and in 2015 the commission implemented the new rules that included size, bag and trip limits to prevent too many fish from being removed from the biomass stock. Juvenile black drum’s mouths are facing downward, versus straight ahead for a sheepshead. It is the only species in the genus Pogonias. Other drum species include white seabass, freshwater drum, whiting, and weakfish, among others. All sponsorships and donations are tax-deductible. The body of this fish is … Black drum also typically have small whiskers under their chin, while sheepshead do not. FDA warns children, pregnant women and lactating moms to NOT eat any king mackerel due to their very high mercury content. His video work regularly appears in the New England Aquarium in Boston, and has been featured on the NOVA documentary "Are You Swimming In A Sewer?” He worked with the U.S. Description: High arched back; 10 to 14 pairs of chin barbels; gray or black colored body in adults; young have 4 to 6 vertical bars; has cobblestone-like teeth capable of crushing oysters; scales large. Sheepshead do not have these very obvious “whiskers”, as shown above. Schedule your trip from February, March, or April and fish the shallow waters to start your black drum fishing adventure. The black drum (Pogonias cromis) is a saltwater fish similar to its cousin, the red drum. Sheepshead. For example, while researchers found juvenile sheepshead at all sites, high numbers were associated with shoal grass and oysters. Fall months are typically the season for spawning, anywhere from mid-August to mid-October depending on your location. Make sure you know your area’s rules before heading out. Coastal Review Online is a nonprofit news service and a member of the North Carolina Press Association. Ouch. They range from South Florida north to Nova Scotia, Canada, and from the Atlantic coast of Brazil north to the Gulf of Mexico. You can help us produce quality journalism and multimedia coverage of coastal issues, history and people. In North Carolina waters, sheepshead typically grow to lengths of 20 to 25 inches and will weigh between 5 and 15 pounds, but like with so many saltwater fish species, these numbers are an average and can fluctuate. Black drum are a close relative of another delicious bottom feeder, the redfish. The meat is mostly white with a good flavor. Black vertical bands stand out against dull white, gray or yellowish background. The best bait to use when pursuing sheepshead includes clams, barnacles, shrimp, fiddler crabs and oysters. But that’s where the similarities end. Small to medium sized sheepshead are often confused with juvenile black drum (puppy drum). As they get older and larger, they leave the safety of the grassy flats and join adult schools in and around jetties, breakwaters and piers,” she said. Black drum take a much more passive approach: They simply face the opposite way the current is moving, and let the food come to them. In Port Alto both are definitely possible. Redfish typically run your line and may thrash to toss the hook. And they prefer the bays and inlet waters rather than the Gulf or deeper waters that the redfish migrate to. Grouper in North Carolina, Temporary Rules Needed to Protect Wetlands, Turtle Trash Collectors Adapt to COVID-19, Cleanup Organizers Adjust During COVID-19, Stormwater Issues Worsen As Climate Warms, South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s (SAFMC) Snapper/Grouper Fishery Management Plan, Pamlico Sound Independent Gill Net Survey, Commercial Fishing Funding Boards to Meet, Drumroll For NC’s Official Saltwater Fish, Circle Hooks Required Jan. 1 for Striped Bass, Marine Fisheries Director to Retire Jan. 31. The California sheep head (Semicossyphus pulcher) is a species of wrasse native to the eastern Pacific Ocean.Its range is from Monterey Bay, California, to the Gulf of California, Mexico. While the spadefish has vertical, dark bars running throughout its body like the sheepshead, the body more resembles that of a large freshwater angelfish, and physically looks nothing like a sheepshead. Juveniles resemble Sheepshead in their coloration and general shape. “This species is caught by recreational anglers with much enthusiasm. In North Carolina, mistaking a black drum for a sheepshead can lead to a hefty fine because of the difference in minimum size limits. The world record black drum is 113 lbs. Anglers typically use cut bait, shrimp, sand fleas or blue crabs as bait, and it is very important to keep the bait on the bottom where the drum feed. They look different and act different, probably just like you and your own cousins. Anglers can fish for red drum from the Texas Gulf Coast to the shores of the Atlantic, as far north as Massachusetts. “Management of sheepshead was first done as part of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s (SAFMC) Snapper/Grouper Fishery Management Plan. Anglers often use the same bait and lures for both black drum and red drum, however black drum need a different presentation. The North Carolina Coastal Federation, dedicated to preserving coastal resources, publishes Coastal Review Online. The overall coloration of an adult black drum is, well, black. No matter if you have a black drum or red drum at the end of your line, it’s a great day fishing. Even though there has been a generally downward trend over the past five years, both commercial and recreational fisheries saw landings increase in the 2017 fishing season. Sheepshead are good table fare and easy to clean and fillet. If all you see is head and no sides, you're better off throwing it back. When fishing for sheepshead, he recommends holding the line against the rod above the reel to feel the nib that sheepshead are known for — using those buckteeth. Black drum simply use their weight to fight. Juvenile black drum are easily mistaken for sheepshead so keep a lookout for the barbels. The barbels are used to find their favorite foods – crabs, worms, and mollusks – that live in the sediment. Distinguishing juvenile black drum from sheepshead. In the Gulf of Mexico they are highly sought after, especially in the brackish waters of Texas. You can fish from the shore, a pier, a kayak or boat to get in on the action. Newport, North Carolina 28570 … Red drum are known as active feeders, following the current and the food source. White, flaky, very tasty. Juvenile black drum’s mouths are facing downward, versus straight ahead for a sheepshead. Black drum are biting at the bridges. Scup are much smaller and are not seen much larger than about 10-12 inches in length. Other common names include kubinskiy morskoi karas’ (Russian), rondeau mouton (French), sargo (Spanish), sargo chopa (Spanish), sargo-choupa (Portuguese), and sparus owczarz (Polish). Photo: Robert Michelson. King mackerel has one of the highest levels of mercury out of all of the popular saltwater fish. The best way to catch sheepshead recreationally is to use hook and line tackle, and this species is also becoming more popular to spear fishermen,” said Markwith. Though most specimens are generally found in the 5 to 30 lb range, the black drum is well known as the largest of all the drum family with some specimens reaching 90 lbs. Photo: Robert Michelson. Contact the editor I know what a Sheepshead looks like, but this past weekend made me question that. In April 2012, sheepshead were officially removed from the council’s management plan,” said Anne Markwith, conservation and fisheries biologist with the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries. Black drum and sheepshead are biting around the bridges, along the south jetty, and the Melody Lane Pier. 07/24/2020 by These are a challenging fish to hook because they strike and take bait very quickly. Fishing Tips and Facts: The vertical bars on juvenile black drum are somewhat similar to those on sheepshead and spadefish. Hold the sheepie head toward you. Sheepshead are omnivores, meaning they will eat both plants and small animals, and prefer eating barnacles, crabs and oysters. Jason Stock is heading offshore in search of big amberjack. ... i.e. There are good numbers of Spanish mackerel up in the bay. There are several species of fish that belong to the drum family, but none as recognizable or targeted as the black drum and red drum. “In North Carolina waters, sheepshead are year-round residents who move from inshore brackish waters to offshore rocky bottom,” said Markwith. 11 votes, 13 comments. Adult black drum grow larger in the Atlantic than they do in the Gulf. If there is one distinct difference between red drum and black drum it would be the size and shape; adult black drums are typically wider, longer, and heavier. They both have distinctive dark stripes over a gray body. The meat of juvenile fish is very similar to that of the redfish. Sheepshead have seven vertical and very prominent black stripes which stand out against a dull white, gray, or yellowish background. I've impaled a finger on them while cleaning before. On closer inspection they can be distinguished by the fact sheepshead have teeth and black drums have chin barbells. Better numbers of sheepshead, whiting and a flounder are showing up around the bridges. Juvenile black drum typically weigh between 5 to 10 pounds and are often confused with sheepshead because of their black and white vertical stripes. While redfish are on the move, anglers will present their bait offering on the surface of the water, allowing the bait to drift along the tide as the fish are eating. In fact, the largest red drum on record was a 94lb beast caught in Avon, NC in 1984. Bait of choice fiddler crabs on carolina rig. So depending on where you’re fishing determines the average weight of the local redfish population. All rights reserved. Red drum are also known as redfish, puppy drum, channel bass, or simply “reds”. Also, sheepies have REALLY thick (and pointy) spines on their dorsal fins. Sheepshead are not the first fish that comes to mind for recreational fishers, but anglers love these saltwater fish because they are a lot of fun to catch. Be sure to visit these pages to better understand About Us, our Site Guidelines and to get an Overview of how NCangler.com operates. Fishing next to a piling is best, while others anchor their boats next to a jetty, and allow the tide to carry the bait across the rocky bottom. They are a bronze and golden color with a distinct black dot or dots near the start of the tail. Tackle requirements are dependent on the size of fish being targeted, the location and current. This includes pound nets, gill nets and seines. Like the commercial catch, landings have fluctuated from year to year, with a low of 19,285 pounds in 1983, and a high of 1,456,396 pounds in 2017,” Markwith said. The oldest reported sheepshead was 30 years old. The Division of Marine Fisheries has determined that more research is needed that includes the creation of a tagging program to aid in figuring out where these fish move to during the course of a year and to help calculate juveniles’ and adults’ relative abundance. Or hire a professional captain to get you hooked up. You can help pay some of the cost by sponsoring a day on CRO for as little as $100 or by donating any amount you're comfortable with. 252-393-8185. Capt. 4). Their body shapes and fin structure are almost identical, but they are easy to tell apart from one another, both underwater and on shore. Terms of Use | Privacy Policy, Search and book today with FishAnywhere.com. “A targeted spear fishery has grown over the past seven to eight years, as well as the gig fishery has become more popular during the same time period,” she said. His photography and articles have appeared in: Natural History, Field & Stream, National Geographic, TROUT, Highlights for Children, Nature Friend, New Hampshire Wildlife Journal, New York State Conservationist, Salt Water Sportsman, Rodale’s Scuba Diving, SCUBA and H2O Adventure magazines. “Young sheepshead are of a higher density in grass flats and muddy bottom. Although drifting bait can lead to a nice red, many anglers prefer to sight fish them as well. black drum and sheepshead; If this is your first visit, we invite to register a user account. info@nccoast.org “Black drum juveniles do have a similar vertical dark bar pattern along their body, while sheepshead have them from the gill plate back to the tail,” Markwith said. can be mistaken for the less tasty and harder to hook Sheepshead. It’s a little like the differences between lightweight and heavyweight boxing. They are often black and/or gray in color with juvenile fish having distinctive dark stripes over a gray body. Most places practice catch-and-release throughout the year to protect the fishery, but there are seasons that you can keep your catch if they meet size and bag limit regulations. Lastly, casting live shrimp around docks and canals is yielding black drum, sheepshead and some catch-and-release snook and reds. As mentioned before the little juvenile fish have 4 to 5 black bars on them and with their lighter background from still being young can be mistaken for sheepshead. It is important to keep pressure on the fish, especially if fishing near a dock or other structure. The Pamlico Sound Independent Gill Net Survey is used as an aid while calculating the abundance of sheepshead stocks in the Pamlico Sound region. Once on the hook, both red drum and black drum are fantastic fighters, but again – in completely different ways. The week of Feb. 9, amberjack catches were topping 90-pounds. Commercial and recreational landings continue to be up and down over the years. Juvenile red drum were high in number at a single site close to the inlet and associated with mud and rock. “Migration patterns are based on mark-recapture studies that have shown no large-scale north-to-south movements. Robert Michelson, Sheepshead sport dark-colored, vertical bars, prominent teeth and a forked tail. Welcome aboard! The size limit for black drum is no smaller than 14 inches and no more than 25 inches total length, except one fish per day may be more than 25 inches. If you do happen to catch a white and black striped fish and you’re not sure if it’s a sheepshead or black drum, check the mouth: Sheepshead have human-like teeth, while black drum do not. These stripes usually fade to dull grey as the fish grow from 12-24 inches in length. This is a technique used during cooler months when the reds are closer to shallow waters, sometimes less than 2 to 3 feet. © 2020 AnywhereBrands. Juvenile black drum’s mouths are facing downward, versus straight ahead for a sheepshead. Although developed for red drum, Paul Prudhomme’s famous “blackened redfish” recipe can be used for black drum with similar results. Similar Fish: Red drum, Sciaenops ocellatus; the vertical bars on juvenile black drum are somewhat similar to those on sheepshead, Archosargus probatocephalus; and spadefish, Chaetodipterus faber. As sheepshead continue to grow, they relocate into adult habitat including rocks, pilings, shipwrecks, jetties and oyster reefs. This fish is a close cousin of the much smaller scup. They are also a pretty fish that, with their dark, vertical bars, look very much like a zebra that lives in the ocean. When the anglers feel a strike, the hook is set and the fight begins. The minimum size limit for sheepshead is 10 inches fork length, which is measured from the fork in the tail to the tip of the snout. Juvenile fish have 4 to 5 bold vertical black bars on a light background and can be mistaken for sheepshead at first glance, but are distinguished on closer inspection because sheepshead have teeth and black drum have chin barbells. A black drum, which can have stripes, swims past a juvenile sheepshead, shown in the background. However, the dark sheepshead-like bars of a black drum will fade with age, and eventually disappear on larger fish. They both have similar, stout body shapes as compared to the more streamlined Redfish. In North Carolina, mistaking a black drum for a sheepshead can lead to a hefty fine because of the difference in minimum size limits. While redfish are spawning in the fall, black drum favor the spring months. All rights reserved. Fishing for sheepshead by recreational fishers has gone down since 2008, however there was a spike of activity in 2013 when the federal government dropped protections for this fish. Scup have no vertical bars, but all age classes and sexes of sheepshead have dark vertical bars running through the gill plate, all the way back to the tail. In North Carolina, mistaking a black drum for a sheepshead can lead to a hefty fine because of the difference in minimum size limits. Inside has been producing, yes, sheepshead and black drum, along with reds and specks in the and around the marshes, and this is from the Neuse and New rivers. FishAnywhere.com is part of Anywhere Brands, LLC - the world's largest provider of outdoor adventure services. As red drum migrate to the Gulf from Texas estuaries, the water takes on a reddish hue because of the large schools of fish; this usually takes place the last weeks of September into October. But sheepshead do not have the whiskers under the lower jaw. A second fish that somewhat looks like a sheepshead is the Atlantic spadefish. On this trip, he used fiddler crabs, which are versatile for both species. They are seen along the Atlantic Coast from Florida to Nova Scotia and can grow to as much as 100 pounds. Photo: Robert Michelson. The public frequently mistakenly identifies black drum as a sheepshead. Flatfish wrote:I always turn them loose because of all of the bones, caught a nice Sheephead last week but I don't think they are worth the trouble of scaling and they have too many rib bones to fillet. Juvenile fish have 4 to 5 bold vertical black bars on a light background and can be mistaken for Sheepshead at first glance, but are distinguished on closer inspection because sheepshead have teeth and black drum have chin barbels.
2020 juvenile black drum vs sheepshead