Drum or Sheepshead Family



freshwater drum

Freshwater Drum (Aplodinotus grunniens)

The freshwater drum is the only member of the drum family found in fresh water, usually in large rivers and lakes. It typically frequents water 10 to 40 feet deep. Its common name results from its ability to make a drumming, croaking, or rumbling sound from its air bladder and associated muscles.

This fish has a blunt snout and a pronounced humpback appearance. Its long dorsal fin extends from the peak of the hump rearward, nearly reaching the rounded tail. The average size is about 15 inches, although larger specimens of 10 pounds are not rare.

Freshwater drum are found in Lake Erie, along the Lake Ontario plain, in the outlet north of Cayuga Lake, in the tributaries of the St. Lawrence River, and in several locations north of Albany, including Lake George and Lake Champlain.

Spawning occurs in the spring when water temperatures reach 65-70F. The eggs are broadcast over shallow gravelly and sandy stretches near shore where they adhere to the bottom. No parental care is given the eggs or young.

Freshwater drum feed heavily on snails, other mollusks, and crayfish. Although the drum can be caught with bait or lures and fights hard, it is not important as a game fish because of its low quality flesh. In most areas it is considered a rough fish, in the same class as carp, with only a minor value in the commercial fishery.


Distribution of freshwater drum in NY state.

An image of the freshwater drum is also available for download.

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