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How Big Do Black Drum Get? (Average and Record Sizes)

How Big Do Black Drum Get? (Average and Record Sizes)

The black drum is dressed in beautiful shades of gray and is quite a formidable fighter. 

They are quite popular amongst anglers because of their size, and they make for delicious eating. But exactly how big do black drums really get?

Black drums reach maturity within four to six years and have an average size of about 25 to 35 inches and 5 to 25 lbs. Some of the biggest black drums weighed over 100 lbs and measured over 50 inches! The current world record is a fish of 113 lbs.

If you’d like to learn more about the size of this fascinating behemoth, keep reading! Whether you’ve been fishing for decades or simply want to know more about this fish species, you’re in for a real treat.

What Is the Maximum Size of Black Drums?

The black drum (Pogonias cromis) is also commonly called “the drummer” and is a species of ray-finned fish that belongs to the family Sciaenidae. 

You can typically find black drums in the North Atlantic Ocean. They tend to hang out near the shore during spring and fall, so they’re relatively easy to locate and catch.

They can reach a maximum length of 50 to 55 inches and a maximum weight of 110 to 125 lbs.

Whoppers of such caliber are rare, but they’re out there!

DID YOU KNOW: Black drums weighing between 1 and 10 pounds are frequently encountered and endearingly called “puppy drums.” Very cute! Specimens weighing over 10 lbs are often called “bull drums.”

What Is the Average Size of Black Drums?

a shore angler holding a nice sized black drum
Courtesy of Chris Johnson

On average, black drums have a length of 25 to 35 inches and an approximate weight between 5 and 25 pounds.

The average size of any given population can fluctuate a lot and, among other factors, depends on the population’s habitat and the water quality in the area it is found. 

Listed below are some factors that can affect the average size of black drums:

  • Overfishing (this almost resulted in their endangerment at one point)
  • Other predators
  • Loss of habitat
  • Water quality
  • Food abundance (or scarcity)
  • Presence of parasites (spaghetti worms)
  • Water temperature
  • Water depth

Along the Northern Atlantic coast, where most black drums are typically found, the average black drum gets to be around 20 to 30 Ibs. In Florida waters, the average black drum will usually weigh somewhere between 10 and 20 lbs. 

In other words, if you’ve ever caught yourself a 25 or 30-Ib black drum in Florida, you’ve done quite well!

What Is the Largest Black Drum Ever Caught?

When it comes to the largest black drum ever caught, we’ll need to take a look at the IGFA world records.

The current world record black drum weighed a whopping 113 lbs and 1 oz. A man named Gerald Townsend caught this behemoth in Lewes, Delaware, in 1975. 

Isn’t it kind of wild that no black drum bigger than this one has been caught since? 

Oh, wait! Actually, there has been a bigger one! 

Back in 2018, angler Alistair Bremner was fishing off the coast of South Carolina when he hooked up to a monster bull drum.

This fish weighed a little over 122 pounds and measured 48 inches! What a beast!

It would have been a new world record if it wasn’t for the state’s tight fishing regulations. 

In South Carolina, the keeper limit for black drums is no larger than 27 inches (due to overfishing), making it illegal for Bremner to bring in the fish and certify the catch.

That’s one personal best black drum, though, isn’t it?

What Is the Largest Black Drum Ever Caught in Florida?

Black drums like to hang out near shore, and surf fishing for them in Florida waters is very popular among local and out-of-state anglers.

While it’s not as easy to catch monster bull drums as it is further up north, the occasional monster drum still finds its way into an angler’s landing net!

In 1998, Raleigh Werking reeled in the largest black drum ever caught in Florida

This fish weighed exactly 66 Ibs, which, despite it being nowhere near the world record, is quite large for a black drum, especially for the waters off Florida.

RELATED ARTICLE: How Big Do Goliath Groupers Get?

Where Are the Biggest Black Drums Found?

a saltwater angler on a boat holding a heavy black drum
Courtesy of William Watson

The biggest black drums are caught off the Northern Atlantic coast, specifically in the waters off the coast of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Delaware.  

While you can often find the smaller fish near the shore, the really big ones tend to be found further out in deeper waters.

Black drums are quite abundant, though, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding and catching one or two if you live anywhere off the east coast. 

Of course, you’ll have more luck finding puppy drums (fish up to 10 lbs) than behemoths, but you’ve got to start somewhere, right?

How Fast Do Black Drums Grow?

a length vs age diagram of black drums
Length vs. age for black drum from two Gulf Coast locations

On average, black drums grow between 4 and 6 inches annually during their first three years. 

Between age 3 and 10, their annual growth rate is about 3 to 4 inches.

Between age 10 and 20, the growth then slows to about 0.5 to 2 inches.

Fish older than 20 years can grow as little as 0.5 to 1 inch per year, making the black drum a fairly slow-growing fish species. 

How Old Do Black Drums Get?

a couple fishing for big black drum at night

The average lifespan of black drums is 15 to 30 years, but they can get older than 50 years, which is quite the age for a fish species.

30-year-old fish tend to weigh at least 60 lbs, while fish of 40 years can weigh around 80 lbs. 

When they reach the age of 50, many black drums will already weigh more than 100 pounds.  

The oldest recorded black drum lived to be about 60 years old and must have been pretty massive. 

As with most creatures that dwell in the sea, more research is needed on black drums to get a real sense of their behavior, spawning cycles, average and maximum size, and lifespan. 

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