Freshwater Fishing: Drum Fish, Gaspergou, Sheepshead

Freshwater Drum

Aplodinotus grunniens
AKA: Drum fish, gaspergou, gou, gasper goo, sheepshead, grunter, silver bass, gray bass, silver perch
 
These fish are known for making characteristic “grunting” sounds.
 
  • Distinguishing Markings:
Except for color, freshwater drum resembles its marine relative the red drum. The fish is deep-bodied and equipped with a long dorsal fin divided into two sections. The dorsal fin usually has 10 spines and 29-32 rays. Freshwater drum are silvery in color and lack the distinctive tail fin spot of red drum.
 
  • Size:
Freshwater drum can exceed 30 pounds, with a record catch of 55 pounds.
 
  • Distribution:
Freshwater drum occurs in a variety of habitats, and is one of the widest ranging fish latitudinally in North America. Populations can be found from Hudson Bay to Guatemala, from the western slopes of the Appalachians to the eastern slopes of the Rockies.
 
  • Habitat:
Freshwater drum appear to spend most of their time at or near the bottom.
 
  • Food:
They feed primarily on fish, crayfish, and immature insects, often by rooting around in the substrate or moving rocks to dislodge their prey. Their heavy “throat-teeth” also enable them to consume some mollusks. 
 
  • Spawning:
Spawning occurs in the spring in open water. The eggs float until they hatch.
 
  • Fishing Tips:
Although freshwater drum is considered a rough fish by many anglers, it is prized as a food fish in some areas. Drum are also sought after as bait for other species.
 

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