How to Catch Freshwater Drum – Beginners Guide 2023

how to catch freshwater drum
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A new type of fish, the freshwater drum, can be found in freshwater areas all around the world. They are hard to recognize, but their distinctive grunting noise makes them much easier to find and identify.

Luckily, freshwater drums are easier to catch than their saltwater counterparts and can be used to make delicious fried drumsticks.

The drum is a freshwater fish that is common in the midwestern United States. The Freshwater Drum is a member of the Sciaenidae family, which includes other fish like the Pompano, Centropristis, and the Red Drum or Channel Bass.

It is living in freshwater, but they also can live in brackish water. They are feeding on crayfish, frogs, small fish, and sometimes some aquatic insects.

The best bait for a Freshwater Drum is crayfish and frogs, but some anglers also use chicken liver, shad, and minnows as the bait. Here is the perfect guide on How to Catch Freshwater Drums.

How To Find and Identify The Freshwater Drum

Before catching the freshwater drum, you should know how to find and identify the freshwater drum. following our tips and tricks below, you will know the technic to find and identify the freshwater drum.

The freshwater drum is a fish, that belongs to the group of fishes in the Sciaenidae family. The freshwater drum is commonly called the (aka) in English.

The freshwater drum species are found in rivers and lakes in South America, North America, and Canada. And the drum is black with greenish colors on the belly and can reach up to about 90 cm long.

According to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), the trade of freshwater drums is prohibited.

How to Catch Freshwater Drum

catch freshwater drum
catch freshwater drum

After reading the above information, we hope now you’d know how to identify the Freshwater Drum. So, let’s know a complete guide on how to catch freshwater drums. After reading this article, read this one also, how to catch carp?

Catch Freshwater Drum in The Winter

Where to Fish: The deepest lakes or rivers in which fish can follow warmer water as it descends to see winter through are lined with warming rising masses enveloped in deep water.

Recommended Bait to Use: Live bait is the way to go for catching any fish. Shrimp, minnows, worms, shiners, and, shad seem to work the best. Cut bait could work well too.

How to Catch: Different tactics can yield different fish. Drop your bait near the bottom of the river or lake to get the bigger fish. Cast your bait near raised bottoms in a river or lake to get the smaller fish. Here is where you’ll let your baits soak until you need to re-bait or you get a bite.

Catch Freshwater Drum in The Spring

Where to Fish: This article goes on to say that the best way to catch a drum is by concentrating on a nearby river or stream. Almost all drums are drawn to a nearby river or stream, which is also the best place to catch baitfish since these fish are their food.

Recommended Bait to Use: Fishing is a lot of fun, and the variety of bait you can use is great. For example, you can use shrimp, crayfish, minnows, shiners, and worms.

There are also a lot of new lures that are out now. For example, you can use small crankbaits, Jerkbaits, and spinners. Toss these lures in a fast current and move the bytes upstream along the fast/slow transition mark.

How to Catch: Avoid throwing your bait into waters where it will be swept away by the current. Try to cast your line in slower water areas. Let your bait remain for a while until you get a bite.

If you fish with lures, toss them out into the turbulent water along that transitional zone and very slowly let your catch chase its prey. Hungry big drums will likely notice the fish chasing its prey from afar and soon bite.

Catch Freshwater Drum in The Summer

Where to Fish: When fishing, stick with slow-moving water like lakes or gently flowing rivers. Fast-moving rivers typically are too shallow and won’t be able to hold most anything edible. Instead, try fishing from the deeper end of the lake or river where fish are more likely to find food.

Recommended Bait to Use: To find a drum in the summer you are going to want to use live bait. Nightcrawlers and minnows are my favorite.

When they are super hungry you can throw a nightcrawler right on top of a submerged stump to catch a big drum. To catch big bass in the late fall try using a minnow under a bobber!

How to Catch: Drop or cast your live bait into rich habitat so that you can attract predators. I recommend putting a few baits in the water to find “high-velocity areas or steep drop-offs” in the water. If you have fishing electronics and know how to use them, now is a good time to deploy them to locate drums.

Catch Freshwater Drum in The Fall

Where to Fish: While much of what you used in the spring will still apply, there are a few more things you need to know for the fall. This is especially true when it comes to fishing with topwater lures since they can be pretty tricky and unpredictable which is why they’re not always recommended in rivers.

It’s also important that you pay close attention to areas of the river where there is a convergence between fast and slow-moving currents because that’s where large fish tend to congregate during the fall months when temperatures begin cooling down, especially at dawn or dusk when they’re most active.

Recommended Bait to Use: Live bait that includes minnows, shad, shiners, freshwater shrimp, crayfish, and clams will be effective in catching drums this season. Lures that mimic prey items will also work well as the drums chase food in preparation for hibernation.

How to Catch: Try fishing in a slow-moving river. Let your line soak until you feel a bite as you’re free to go about other things like unwinding while waiting on your fish to come in. If you’re out on the lake or ocean, disconnect from your anchor and take the boat to move quickly toward the direction of your bait’s pull.

Cast lures by putting them downstream into the current and reel them toward you upstream slowly enough so that they don’t get away. Try fishing with diving lures as well because these will keep more fish interested in eating your bait!

Catching Freshwater Drum From Boat

When fishing the freshwater drum from a boat, there are many areas on fishing lakes where most fishermen like to cast their lines. They go for areas around structures like rocks, docks, and plant beds, but it isn’t always clear which areas are better suited for catching fish.

To best catch freshwater drums with these methods, we recommend looking for slow-moving areas that border places of fast-moving water.

Freshwater drum seems to like this type of unique setup because it provides food specifically caught by the current while they sit in an area of reduced flow without much pressure.

This is also why baitfish tend to stay in these transition locations because they can seek shelter from the main current nearby – sort of like a “transition” zone for the natural world in general!

catching freshwater drum from boat
Catching freshwater drum from a boat

The best strategy for catching particularly frisky fish is to position your boat in the transitional water between the fast and slow sections of the river.

The reason we recommend positioning your boat next to this transitional boundary zone is for safety’s sake since it’s generally more stable, which also gives you peace of mind as well.

From there, you can use any form of bait or lure that you want to depending on what sort of catch you’re after regardless of whether it’s live or cut bait.

Most anglers choose live bait for fishing. While most bait shops offer different kinds of bait, the most common live bait for this species are worms, frogs, minnows, and shiners. Another option is to make your rig using a pre-made pickerel rig.

As a rule of thumb, free hooks tend to hook better than insert ones. If you do have an insert hook, try attaching its weight first.

Bait your hook with whatever medium-sized live bait you prefer and either toss the line near fast-moving water or stick to slow-moving water if possible.

Freshwater drums don’t usually like small grubs but right now you can make them eat the shrimp bait you want to catch. One way you can do it is by throwing a Jerkbait or crankbait into the water.

This method is far less popular, but if done correctly can attract bigger and more aggressive fish than standard fishing practices will allow for. Toss a 2-3 inch lure (we recommend fishing lures such as Jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, and swimbaits) into the current or on the edge of the current.

What’s The Best Bait For Freshwater Drums?

The first thing you must decide is whether you want live bait or artificial bait. Artificial bait will allow for a longer session (many times you’re limited to the live bait you have on hand), and you don’t have to worry about losing your bait to the fish.

However, many anglers still prefer live bait, and if you’re looking for a big drum, there’s no substitute for live bait. Freshwater drums love shrimp, nightcrawlers, and grasshoppers.

If your fishing spot doesn’t have a bait shop nearby, consider lugging in a cooler with a few days’ worth of bait.

Here is a video about Lures VS Live Bait, to know which works best. you can check it out!

Can You Use The Same Lures Bait For Freshwater Fishing To Fish In Saltwater?

Yes, you can use the same lure bait for freshwater fishing to fish in saltwater too. Today’s fishing lures are the best. Some of them are like plastic replicas of specific small fish found in the area that attracts other fish from afar.

Other lures are designed to catch larger or more aggressive species like barracuda or spotted sea trout. Yet even these bigger fish may be attracted by top-selling models like Bass Assassin and Gulp!

And you can bet some fishermen have never been able to find out why they feel so good about themselves when bringing one of these large fish back with the resort to show their family and friends.

Recommended Gear To Catch Freshwater Drum

If you are planning on fishing for freshwater drums, here is a list of gear you will need.

Rod and Reel:

This is the most important piece of gear when it comes to freshwater drum fishing. A rod and reel that are specifically designed for freshwater drum fishing can often be found at your local fishing store and various online stores such as Amazon, Alibaba, Walmart, etc.

For big freshwater drums, you’re going to need some sturdy gear. The average weight of the adult drum is between 5 to 15 lbs. That’s a strong animal, and you’ll have the added difficulty of fighting it on the upstream side.

Quality fishing rods and reels are worth spending a little more money on. They’ll last longer and withstand abuse from the larger fish you want to catch.

For freshwater drum fishing, I recommend a 7-8 foot rod. This type of rod has the backbone to handle larger saltwater drums and the distance to cast to them without their being able to escape.

Fish Finder

If you’re hoping to catch a freshwater drum, using a fish finder can be a big help. These devices can help you locate fish that are in the water, which can make it easier to cast your line in the right spot. Fish finders will have GPS capabilities, which can be helpful if you’re fishing in unfamiliar waters.

When you’re using a fish finder, look for areas with a lot of fish activity. You may see schools of fish swimming around or fish that are actively feeding. These are usually good spots to fish for freshwater drums.

For freshwater drums, you can choose a fish finder under $400 bucks, it will do the job perfectly, or if you can afford then go with a medium-high range fish finder under $1000 bucks that is come with some advanced features to help you catch more drum.

So, if you’re looking to catch a freshwater drum, don’t forget to bring along a fish finder. With this device, you’ll have a much better chance of landing a big one.

Fishing Line:

Like any other type of fishing, the line that you use can make or break the experience. A fishing line should be chosen based on the type of fishing you are using it for and the environment in which it’s being used.

Terminal Tackle:

Terminal tackle is a collection of fishing equipment that includes hooks, sinkers, and bobbers. Hooks can range from very small to large “circle” hooks for catching catfish.

Sinkers are the weights that are attached to the line to get bait or lure down into the water column. Bobbers are floatation devices that clip onto the fishing line and float at a predetermined depth.

One way to catch them is using terminal tackle like flies, lures, and spinners.

fishing tackle equipment

The terminal tackle used to catch freshwater drums depends on the fishing method being used.

When fishing for a freshwater drum with a trotline, the terminal tackle would be a trotline.

When freshwater drums are caught in the tidal zone, they are often caught with a cast net.

Terminal tackle used for a cast net is usually a dip net or a cast net with a hoop at the top.

A Boat:

If you hope to catch any decent size freshwater drum, you’ll need a fishing boat to get there. Water access is the most important differentiator between catching freshwater drums and other types of fish.

Much of the catch in the tidal zone is accomplished from boats. Also, you can read about the best fishing kayak for under 500$ and go with it.

A rod holder:

A rod holder enables one to place a rod on created wells in the boat. This can be used when it’s windy or when other obstacles prevent a pole from being placed down in the well.


The best way to catch freshwater drums is with lures or flies. Bait can be hard to get out of a freshwater drum.

You must use live bait, but there are other options still available. Some popular choices include shiners, minnows, worms, freshwater shrimp, crayfish, and shad.

Dead or cut bait like cut fish, dead fish, and dead shrimp will also draw bites from the hungry drum.

When fishing for drums, I prefer using live bait over a dead one in most scenarios. For instance, you may be surprised to see just how many drums are attracted to artificial lures as well.


How Long Do Freshwater Drums Live?

On average, freshwater drums live about 15 years. However, this can vary greatly, depending on the circumstances in which the drum was raised.

The life expectancy of the freshwater drum that has been raised in captivity is about 15 years, but those that have been raised in the wild can live as long as 20 years.

How Fast Does Freshwater Drum Grow?

The Freshwater drum reaches an average length of 4.4-5 inches in the first year.

How Did Big Do Freshwater Drum get?

The freshwater drums reach a length of nearly ​12-30​ inches and a weight of over 16kg. The biggest freshwater drum caught in the wild was ​37​ inches long and weighed over ​25kg.

A freshwater drum can live up to ​72​ years, but many are killed before they reach ​3​ years of age.

Where To Catch Freshwater Drum?

Freshwater drum is a tasty fish and is not usually hard to find. They can be found in almost any lake and are often caught in rivers. They are very easy to catch on live bait or you can use a small jig to catch them.

Can You Eat Freshwater Drum?

The freshwater drum can be eaten and is great in taste. Try it the next time you see them in the market. It is a great fish to fry and it makes a wonderful meal with a side of veggies and mashed potatoes.

We love the drum fish because it’s a unique-tasting fish and can be cooked in a variety of ways.


So, you’ve read the article, and you want to go catch your freshwater drum fish. The first thing you need to do is plan a trip to a freshwater drum fish location.

Common locations include rivers, lakes, and swamps. Common baits to use for catching freshwater drum fish include worms, corn, minnows, or chicken livers.

You can also use a fishing rod and a hook. While freshwater drum fish are not a common catch, they are a popular food source. Many people eat freshwater drum fish.

They are so popular in the United States, Canada, and North America. Overall, freshwater drum fish is a popular food source for humans.

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