If you’re an avid fisherman, you’ve probably come across a black drum fish.
These saltwater fish can tolerate various salinities and are commonly found in estuaries. Adults prefer saltier water, while the little ones live closer to freshwater conditions.
This makes these fish relatively easy to catch in various locations.
Black drums also come in sizes ranging from 5-90 pounds! This makes them the largest fish in the drum fish family.
Many fishermen catch black drums, so the question “Can you eat a black drum?” comes up quite frequently. This article has all the information about under what circumstances it is safe to eat black drum fish.
Black Drum Fish – Description
Drum fish get their name from the drumming sound they make in the water. Black drum fish are identifiable by the barbs on their lower jaw.
Juvenile black drums have four to five distinct black stripes that run vertically across their bodies. The stripes become less visible as the fish get older. Adults have strong teeth that help them feed on oysters, crabs, and other mollusks.
Drum fish are quite abundant, and the average size is around 30 to 40 pounds. The largest black drum ever caught weighed an impressive 146 pounds!
Where to Catch Black Drums
Black drum fish can be found along the entire east coast of the United States until the coast of Texas in the south.
Those who fish in the northern regions tend to go for the large adult fish, while the smaller ones are more popular in the south. Different states also have different legislation in place regarding the fishing of black drums.
There may be restrictions on the size and quantity of fish you can catch daily.
When fishing for black drums, it is best to use the bait that the fish usually eat. These can be shrimp, crab, mussels, or clams. The fish use the barbs on their lower jaw to locate their food and will pick up the bait easily.
You can catch the younger fish in shallower water, while adults are farther away from the shoreline.
Is it Safe to Eat a Black Drum?
Yes, it is safe to eat a black drum. The fish is incredibly fleshy, and large drum fish can feed several people. People question whether it is safe to eat because of the presence of spaghetti worms in adults.
Spaghetti worms are common parasitic worms found in saltwater fish. They pose no threat to humans and are easy to remove when you clean the fish. Even if a few do remain in the fish, the heat from cooking will take care of them.
Spaghetti worms use black drum fish as an intermediate host before reaching their reproductive host, sharks.
This is why some fishermen advise only eating black drums that are 15 pounds or less. The larger ones contain more spaghetti worms, and the flesh is denser than the smaller drums.
However, all black drum fish are safe to eat, and this is just a preference.
What Does Black Drum Taste Like?
Black drums have a mild taste. The flesh of the fish is white, moist, and firm, making it perfect for fish fries or grills.
It is favored by people who dislike oily fish with a pungent taste.
How to Clean a Black Drum
Cleaning any fish is a messy job. However, to enjoy your black drum, you must know how to clean it properly. You can do this indoors, but it’s best to do it outside because you will have more room and you don’t have to worry about making a mess.
Firstly, you have to give it a good rinse, removing any sand or dirt from the surface of the fish. Then, place it on plywood or cardboard to begin scaling the fish.
Depending on the size of the black drum, you can use different tools to scale the fish. You can use a garden hose to loosen and remove most of the scales before using a knife or scaler to finish the job.
Some people even use a garden hose to scale large fish.
After scaling, you will place your knife behind the fish’s gills and cut downward. Then, cut vertically across the bottom, staying close to the dorsal fin. Cut from the top to get a nice filet, meeting the cut at the bottom just before the tail.
Use your knife to cut the filet away from the rib cage, lift it, and cut it free from the spine.
The larger black drums also have rough skin, which few people enjoy eating, so you can skin the filet to take it off. Simply place the filet skin on a flat surface, place your knife between the skin and the meat, and carefully cut the filet away from the skin.
You can then cut the fish into steaks, rinse them off, and store them on ice or in the fridge until you prepare them.
How to Eat Black Drum Fish
There are many ways to enjoy black drum fish. Some people even eat the flesh of small drum fish raw. Black drums larger than 10 pounds tend to have coarser flesh that is not tasty if eaten raw.
Black drums are flavorful in fish fries because of their flaky and dense flesh. Their milder flavor also makes them more desirable to people who don’t like a strong fishy taste. You can use black drum fish to make cakes, chowder, and even tacos. Their mild flavor makes them a great feature of these tasty dishes.