Did you know that in 1971 the North Carolina General Assembly designated red drum the state saltwater fish? The Tar Heel State is famous for its trophy-sized red drum that weigh in excess of 40 pounds, traditionally caught in the surf and sound between Oregon Inlet and Cape Lookout. In 1984, a giant red drum was caught off Hatteras Island that weighed 94 pounds, 2 ounces; aside from being the state record red drum, this is also a world record for all tackle. North Carolina has produced 10 out of 16 current world records for red drum.
Red drum derive their name from their color and the fact that during spawning time, males produce a drum-like noise by vibrating a muscle in their swim bladder. The color of red drum ranges from a deep blackish, coppery color to nearly silver. The most common color is reddish-bronze.
Red drum is the accepted common name for this species by the American Fisheries Society, but they are also called channel bass, spottail bass and redfish. Juvenile red drum, those aged 1 to 4 years, are called puppy drum. Red drum are related to black drum, spotted seatrout, weakfish, sea mullets, croaker and spot, most of which also make drum sounds.
Fisheries scientists refer to the species as Sciaenops ocellatus; Sciaenops is Greek for perch-like marine fish and ocellatus is Latin for eye-like colored spot. The Latin term refers to the black spot (usually one, but sometimes two or more) on either side near the base of the tail. Scientists believe that the spots may fool predators into attacking the red drum toward their tails instead of near their eyes, allowing the drum to escape.