Long lived and capable of reaching in excess of fifty pounds, freshwater drum have two joined dorsal fins with a spiny anterior fin and soft rayed posterior fin. They range in color according to their habitat, typically gray or silver in turbid waters and bronze in clearer waters. The pectoral and pelvic fins are white. Mature males have a special set of muscles that vibrate against the swim bladder making a noise underwater that resembles the sound of a distant drum thought to be associated with mating/spawning. Drum spawn in spring to late summer, depending upon region.
They are nocturnal bottom feeders with a diet composed of larvae, mussels, fish and crayfish, often found by rooting around in substrate or moving rocks. The drum has an inner ear structure (otolith) once used in jewelry making and for good luck charms. Though eaten in some places, anglers tend to consider drum a rough fish, best used for bait purposes.
Found in both clear and turbid lakes and rivers.
Freshwater drum have the largest latitudinal range of any freshwater fish in North America. They occur in a variety of habitats, and populations can be found from Hudson Bay in the north to Guatemala in the south. East to west, the species ranges from the western slopes of the Appalachians to the eastern slopes of the Rockies.