Alternate name: Redfish/Channel Bass
Family: Sciaenidae, Drums view all from this family
Description The Red Drum (Sciaenops ocellatus), also known as Channel Bass, Redfish, Spottail Bass or simply Reds, is a game fish that is found in the Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to Florida and in the Gulf of Mexico from Florida to Northern Mexico. It is the only species in the genus Sciaenops. The red drum is a cousin to the Black Drum (Pogonias cromis), and the two species are often found in close proximity to each other, they can interbreed and form a robust hybrid, and younger fish are often indistinguishable in flavor.
Red Drum are a dark red color on the back, which fades into white on the belly. The red drum have a characteristic eyespot near the tail and are somewhat streamlined. Three year-old red drum typically weigh six to eight pounds. When they are near or over twenty-seven inches, they are called "bull reds". The largest red drum on record weighed just over 94 pounds and was caught in 1984 on Hatteras Island. Red drum are relatives of the black drum and both make a croaking or drumming sound when distressed.
The most distinguishing mark on the red drum is one large black spot on the upper part of the tail base. Having multiple spots is not uncommon for this fish but having no spots is extremely rare. As the fish with multiple spots grow older they seem to lose their excess spots. Scientists believe that the black spot near their tail helps fool predators into attacking the red drum's tail instead of their head, allowing the red drum to escape. The red drum uses its senses of sight and touch and its down turned mouth, to locate forage on the bottom through vacuuming or biting the bottom. On the top and middle of the water column, it uses changes in the light that might look like food. In the summer and fall, adult red drum feed on crabs, shrimp, and sand dollars, in the spring and winter, adults primarily feed on menhaden, mullet, pinfish, sea robin, lizardfish, spot, Atlantic croaker, and flounder.
Dimensions Up to 5' (1.5 m); 90 lbs (41 kg).
Habitat Estuaries, tidal flats & salt marshes, Ocean or bay shallows, Rivers & streams, Tidepools.
Range Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Florida, Texas.