Freshwater drum

Freshwater drum

The freshwater drum, Aplodinotus grunniens, is a fish endemic to North and Central America. It is the only freshwater species in the genus Aplodinotus. It is also known for its succulent flesh, but many fishermen are put off by its mucus lining and dank smell. Freshwater drum possess an adapted swim bladder which is able to produce sound. Sound production is thought to be related to spawning activity where many drum will gather in pelagic waters of an ecosystem and begin drumming.

It is also called shepherd's pie, silver bass, gray bass, Gasper goo, Gaspergou, gou, grunt, grunter, grinder, and croaker, and is commonly known as sheephead or sheepshead in parts of Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Freshwater drum have the largest latitudinal range of any freshwater fish in North America. Consistent with other Sciaenids, freshwater drum are strongly nocturnal with the bulk of most catches being derived from night angling/sampling. Commercial fisheries are present for this species, although market price tends to be quite low. Thus, many freshwater drum are harvested as bycatch from targeted higher-value species.

The diet of the freshwater drum is generally benthic and composed of macroinvertebrates (mainly aquatic insect larvae and bivalve mussels), as well as small fish which in certain ecosystems results in excessive accumulation of lipophilic pollutants such as PCBs which are harmful to humans (in some cases over 16 time EPA recommended levels). However, accumulations of mercury tend to be lower as drum do not occupy high positions in food chains.

The name "Gasper Goo" is an English mispronunciation of the French name "Casse burgau" (mussel breaker). Freshwater mussels are a favored prey item of this fish.

The drum's otoliths are large and in the past were used by Native Americans for jewelry, currency and as good luck charms. Otoliths can also be used to estimate drum ages. The species is sexually dimorphic in terms of its size with females reaching considerably larger sizes than males. Freshwater drum are long-lived and have attained maximium ages of 72 years old in Red Lakes, Minnesota and 32 years old in the Cahaba River, Alabama.


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