Skip to main content - The Official Portal for North Dakota State Government
Freshwater drum illustration

Freshwater Drum

Drum Family: This family contains many saltwater fishes, but only one that lives entirely in freshwater. Some drum species have complicated swim bladders and make audible sounds, especially during spawning season.

Freshwater Drum Identification

  • Silver-gray and deep-bodied
  • Top fin is long and almost separated into two parts
  • Tail is rounded


Also known as sheepshead and grunter.

The freshwater drum has two “lucky stones,” or ear bones, located in its head. These stones are called otoliths and are used by fish for balance, orientation and sound detection. All fish have these structures, but they are larger and more pronounced in drum.

The drum resides on the bottom in calm areas of deep water bodies.

At first glance, this fish can be confused with a white bass.

Drum are excellent to eat after removing the thin layer of red, fatty meat on the skin side of the flesh.