RED DRUM 101

Red DrumMarine red drum, Sciaenops ocellatus, is commonly known as redfish or spottail sea bass. It is a game fish native to the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico and is found in coastal waters from Massachusetts to Tuxpan, Mexico. Red drum travel in shoals (schools) and are aggressive eaters, feeding on shrimp and small fish such as menhaden and mullet, at times in waters so shallow that their backs are exposed.

A stunningly beautiful, torpedo-shaped fish, red drum is more copper than red, with copper tipped fins and large copper scales along a broad back. It's most distinctive feature is one or more large black spots on the tail. Scientists believe that the spot may trick predators into targeting the tail rather than the head, allowing the fish a chance to escape.

THE LEGEND

Red Drum catchRed drum has long been prized by recreational and commercial fishermen. The thrill of landing a brutish bull red continues to lure throngs of sports fishermen to coastal waters each year, so much so that recreational catch limits are tightly controlled. But the fun of the fight wasn’t all that helped bring red drum fisheries to near collapse. Its distinctive flavor drove extraordinary consumer demand, transforming the popular game fish from a culinary unknown to center-of-the-plate stardom.

Blackened RedfishIn the 70s New Orleans Chef Paul Prudhomme's Cajun-spiced red drum fillets, seared at very high temperatures in an iron skillet, ignited the palates of fish lovers and introduced many seafood "newbies" to the fish, too. Blackened redfish, as the dish became known, grew so popular that the Gulf Coast states quickly moved to protect the species by halting commercial sales of wild red drum and reducing recreational catch limits. As a result, fisheries pressures eased, and during the 80s and 90s, wild stocks began to recover to healthier levels.

David MausAround the same period, aquaculture technology began to develop, and pioneer biologist David Maus built the first commercial redfish farm at Palacios, Texas. Today, red drum catch remains prohibited or tightly restricted. Fortunately for fish lovers everywhere, red drum aquaculture preserves our opportunity to enjoy this legendary fish in the future.

Don't confuse saltwater red drum with freshwater drum, known by names such as gaspergou, silver bass, or sheepshead in Canada and some parts of the USA. While there is a small commercial fishery for freshwater drum, it is usually a by-catch only product and is not considered a premium fish. Also, be aware that farm-raised red drum can be imported from countries with farming practices that may not measure up to USA standards. And in many cases, imported product is frozen or previously frozen. Be sure of what you are getting with always fresh, always premium, always 100% USA traceable, Copper Shoals Red Drum®.

RED DRUM NOTES

  • The Texas red drum record catch was 59.5 pounds, but a North Carolina angler brought in the record catch of 94 pounds.
  • President George W. Bush designated the red drum as a protected game fish in 2007 under Executive Order 13449, making it illegal to sell red drum caught in federal waters.
  • In March 2009, red drum was the secret ingredient on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America, with competitors Cat Cora and Mourad Lahlou preparing creative and traditional red drum dishes.