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Fish: Freshwater Drum

Freshwater Drum Populations

Post By: MNBassFisher      Posted: 3/1/2013 10:27:59 AM     Points: 1396    
Back in MN we used to catch these fish all the time on the Mississippi either dragging a crawler on the bottom or even on crankbaits. I was curious if there are many lakes or rivers in the state which hold Freshwater Drum (sheephead)? I also am doing a friendly contest with some friends back home in MN this year and one month the target is Drum and I'm hoping to show them up this year! Haha
 Reply by: brookieflyfisher      Posted: 3/1/2013 10:28:41 AM     Points: 6196
 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 3/1/2013 10:32:31 AM     Points: 3482
HA Ha HA!!! Brookie!! you beat me!!

We do have some. I would also suggest that you check and see if the DOW has a Lake survey and management for that body of water.
[log in for link]

If you check and see what the data looks like, you will be able to have your best chances at numbers or size.

Also, check out the forum posts for the drum. They will give you a bit of information on their behavior here... as they seem a bit more aggressive than what you're used to. I remember someone saying they were actually taking lures... not worms.

 Reply by: roughfisher      Posted: 3/1/2013 10:43:21 AM     Points: 52
we get them on artificial lures in the midwest too. I've caught a ton on the Mississippi targeting them with Shad Raps, blade baits, and jigs - usually lures do well here on the 3lb-10lb range, crawlers are better on the little 1-2lb eaters. I have buddies who have gotten them in the 15-25lb range - those usually come on cutbait or crayfish targeting big cats, though sometimes those come on crankbaits too.

Looks like others have the location part covered for ya - for contest flies I'd stick with crayfish patterns or clousers - honestly clousers catch any thing in the right size. One of the best flies in existence. Too bad casting them kinda sucks!
 Reply by: elkinthebag      Posted: 3/1/2013 10:49:43 AM     Points: 2133
Archery month month in half prewit will get hundreds.
 Reply by: MNBassFisher      Posted: 3/1/2013 11:03:22 AM     Points: 1396
Ha I knew about looking at posts specific to certain fish species but I didn't know about all that detail. Thanks for opening my eyes and I appreciate the tips. I figured a clouser would be a decent fly to throw if I found a reservoir that held them.
 Reply by: MNBassFisher      Posted: 3/1/2013 11:04:44 AM     Points: 1396
FishSeal thanks for that survey link too, I saved that. I used to use something similar back in MN but hadn't stumbled on that for the CO lakes so that'll be a great asset.
 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 3/1/2013 11:16:28 AM     Points: 3482
No problem!! Sometimes we don't know that what we're looking for is out there until someone shows us!! Happens to me all the time!!
I'm glad that it will be useful. The biologists are continuing to add to it also, when they have time.

Man I wish I could go with you!! I've always wanted to catch a drum... well a lot of other fish for that matter. But drum has been at the top of my list for a while.

When that time does come, if it does... I'll be doing some researching!!

 Reply by: Badfish II      Posted: 3/1/2013 11:22:12 AM     Points: 2316
The dam at Jackson is probably your best bet. It seems like they come through in schools. I got this guy a few years ago. That same day I caught about 5 more...

What part of Minnesota are you from? I Hail from Minneapolis myself.
 Reply by: Coyute      Posted: 3/1/2013 11:30:28 AM     Points: 148
Cool fish IMO. They are good fighters and I hear they are good eating.

I have caught a few here in Colorado but I did my best catching them in Kansas fishing for black bass.

Here's a nice one I hauled in @ Norton, Kansas. I caught this one cranking the rocks. He wasn't shy at all and put up a nice fight.
 Reply by: cookster      Posted: 3/1/2013 11:37:33 AM     Points: 65623
Bonny had some big drum. Blue lake and john martin holds some big ones too. Crawler are the ticket down there. Good luck.
 Reply by: MLP5420      Posted: 3/1/2013 12:15:31 PM     Points: 515
John Martin has a lot. Caught them on grubs, cranks, worms, mussels and cut bait. Good fights.
 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 3/1/2013 12:20:01 PM     Points: 3482
Check out the state record!! [log in for link]

Came from our very own Lonetree Res!! 17# and 3 oz, and a whopping 32" in length!!

Wow!! I'd love to catch something that big.
Has anyone recently caught/observed any drum in lonetree since?

I think someone needs to break that record. :-) Any takers?

 Reply by: MNBassFisher      Posted: 3/1/2013 12:59:42 PM     Points: 1396
BadFish - I'm from a suburb of St. Paul - White Bear Lake, MN.

FishSeal - I'll keep you posted on when I begin my hunt for the Drum! Wow, that's a monster for the state record. The World Record came from Tennessee and was 54# 8oz. WOW.

In MN, everyone refers to them as Sheepshead - is that true out here too? I never really targeted them but one time fishing for channel cats on the Mississippi I hooked into what I thought was a decent Cat that I couldn't get out of the current, but it wound up being my PB Drum.
 Reply by: roughfisher      Posted: 3/1/2013 2:39:37 PM     Points: 52
Here is a link to 3 big drum caught by a buddy of mine - the smallest is 15lbs the biggest is in the upper 20lb range. they look nuts at that size. I'm thinking about putting in a serious effort for a 20lber+ this year
[log in for link]
 Reply by: Vanish      Posted: 3/1/2013 2:58:33 PM     Points: 668
We got a few at Jackson last year while walleye fishing.
 Reply by: MNBassFisher      Posted: 3/1/2013 3:06:23 PM     Points: 1396
Oh man, those are ridiculous! Look at the foreheads on those Drum!!! I bet they put up a hell of a fight too
 Reply by: Freestone303      Posted: 3/1/2013 10:59:59 PM     Points: 458
We'd catch them while bass fishing down south. Crankbaits, spinner baits, etc.
 Reply by: NoNick      Posted: 3/2/2013 9:53:35 AM     Points: 89
Bonny used to have them..Of course, there is no Bonny, so no more drum at Bonny. I'll say one thing for them. They pull harder than a lot of other fish I've caught.
 Reply by: cookster      Posted: 3/2/2013 10:45:15 AM     Points: 65623
They drained Bonny?
 Reply by: NoNick      Posted: 3/2/2013 11:34:29 AM     Points: 89
They sure did...

[log in for link]
 Reply by: Gemcityslayer      Posted: 3/2/2013 5:58:22 PM     Points: 0
I love drum.

Rocky Mountain Redfish.
 Reply by: MLP5420      Posted: 3/2/2013 6:14:53 PM     Points: 515
Was told drums are allowed as cut bait...anyone care to shed some light??
 Reply by: elkinthebag      Posted: 3/2/2013 6:36:49 PM     Points: 2133
Sits with the same level as carp on regulations scale can do pretty much what ever PETA will let you get away with.
 Reply by: roughfisher      Posted: 3/2/2013 7:17:42 PM     Points: 52
Here in WI everything is legal as cut bait but Drum sits at the same level as Walleye for being among the most useless cut bait. Neither are oily fish so they don't work well. We have stacks of small Drum in many rivers and to date I've rarely caught anything other than snapping turtles on cut Drum. Live drum are better but not great either, just aren't that active on the hook.

Generally I only use Drum for cutbait if I'm desperate. Sunfish and Suckers are better for some reason, though still not ideal. Shad, Mooneye, Ciscos, and Smelt are the cream of the crop for cut bait if you have them. I haven't tried trout or salmon yet but I bet they'd be decent. I have some salmon bellies in my freezer I keep meaning to try. That said, in Colorado I think your options in order of preference would be shad, white sucker, and lastly drum
 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 3/2/2013 7:31:26 PM     Points: 3482
Here in CO it is illegal to fish with any part of a gamefish, including trout and salmon.

Also, I think it is illegal to fish with drum as bait as it is considered a game fish.

I am certain that shad, certain minnows, bluegill and green sunfish, suckers and carp, can be used as cut bait.

I'll get back with you on the drum.

 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 3/2/2013 7:35:57 PM     Points: 3482
Confirmed... drum may not be used for bait.

But I also found that there isn't a limit, unless specified at that particular waterbody!!

 Reply by: roughfisher      Posted: 3/2/2013 9:07:45 PM     Points: 52
Yup, MN doesn't allow Gamefish as bait either. In WI anything that is reduced to possession can be bait in the water it is harvested from. Interesting that Drum aren't legal bait in CO, but like I said - you aren't missing anything there.

I've never tried carp but Shad is fantastic cut bait. Suckers are decent, so are Green Sunfish. Bluegill are OK but I'd say below Greens. Greens and Bluegills both make very good live bait though, something that can't really be said of shad. Pretty sure that in CO "suckers" would only mean Longnose and White. I know Razorbacks are protected and I don't think Blueheads, Flannelmouth or Mountains are legal for bait either.
 Reply by: FishSeal      Posted: 3/2/2013 10:36:09 PM     Points: 3482
That's right on the suckers.

Although, I have to also say a good word for the gillies. I love to catch the small ones with my fly rod... then I cut them in half and push a big hook through it. I then proceed to cast it out for cats. Usually works pretty well.
Put a small live one on a hook and let him swim around the wiper and you'll have a lot of fun also.

Carp is hard around here. I don't think I've found anything that likes carp, except the birds.

White and Longnose Sucker is prime dining for the lake trout. They love them. Also, if you have whole small ones, pike and muskie love them also.

What fun... but I'm still hoping to get out the ice one more time before putting the short rods away.


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