Found in waters all across the United States, black drum fish are plentiful and easy to catch, despite being mostly bottom feeders. If you’ve caught a lot of this kind of fish, it’s only natural to ask can you eat black drum?
This chunky fish is certainly edible, and it yields quite a bit of meat, so it can be found as the main entree or as an ingredient in a variety of tasty dishes.
Do People Eat Black Drum?
This fish can definitely be eaten, and you’ll find numerous recipes that feature black drum meat, either as the star of the show or as a complementary component of a stew or a chowder. The smaller black drums that are under five pounds in size are the tastiest of the species, but you’ll get a lot more meat from the larger fish. Many restaurants on the U.S. coast serve black drum extensively, making it a preferred fish for even locals.
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Black drum is a great fish for fish fries, especially the larger ones that provide a lot of meat. You can feed many people with just a single large fish. However, note that larger black drums often have spaghetti worms inside them. These are not harmful to humans, but they are unappetizing, so you may want to remove them before cooking and serving your catch.
About Black Drum Fish
This adaptable fish likes the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the coast of Florida, but it is able to better survive colder waters than most warm-water fish, which means you can catch it year-round. It can be found in both saltwater and freshwater and survives in both muddy and clear lakes and ponds. Additionally, you can find them in shallow or deep water, which explains why they are so easy to catch.
Black drums also have a large weight range, coming in at anything from under a pound to the 146-pound world record. In warmer waters, it’s not uncommon to pull black drums out of the water that weigh 30 or 40 pounds. You can recognize a black drum by its black and white stripes and its whiskered chin. Older fish, though, will have lost their stripes and be more of a clear or white color.
Black Drum Taste
In general, black drum fish have a mild flavor that is reminiscent of red snapper. Its flesh is firm, yet flaky, making it an excellent choice to fry or bake. Larger black drums have rougher skin, so the smaller fish are preferable if you like smoother meat. The smaller fish, often called “drum puppies” are significantly sweeter than the larger ones and are often chosen for fish cakes, stews, and soups.
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Eating Black Drum Raw
Black drum fish can be eaten raw, but usually, this preparation is reserved for the smaller fish (under five pounds). The meat of the larger fish is coarse, so it doesn’t make the best choice for raw dishes. Both sashimi and ceviche are recommended dishes for small black drums, but it’s safe to eat raw in any form. You also do not have to worry if you eat a worm or two, because they are safe, even if eaten raw.
These fish do not grow very quickly, so some anglers suggest that they should be only a catch and release species to ensure they are not eventually endangered. For this reason, if you catch a larger black drum, you may want to release it because it will take a small fish a long time to replace the one you’ve taken. However, there are no bans on black drum fish, so if you want to eat one, there’s nothing stopping you.
Opinion varies on whether large black drum fish are good for eating or not, but the consensus on small drum fish is clear: they are very delicious no matter how they are prepared. These fish are not hard to catch, so if you end up with one on your line, give it a chance as a meal or ingredient. You’ll be glad you did!