Species Spotlight: Praise To The Unsung Drum

Meet the Freshwater Drum or commonly known by its local alias, the Silver Bass.

A unique species that shares close ties to its saltwater cousins and a distinct facial exterior that resembles the sought after Redfish from the deep south. An even closer look at Mr. Drum will often reveal a striking appearance of subtle blues, bronze and pinks that jump out of its stout pearl frame. An impressive figure, none the less. But at the end of the day, no matter what connection they may have to the famous contenders of the south, they always seem to fall short of being accepted into the popular crowd. But why?

Like anything in life, the opportunity to experience a new angling occasion doesn’t always come easy. In a lot of cases it takes time, knowledge, resources and motivation to get up and take on that new challenge. But usually, when you take that step and experience something that was once unknown, the positives outweigh the unfamiliar or previous assumptions and a new found interest in born.

Manitoba is home to a large list of fish species that each offer their own unique and favourable encounter. Some are great eating, some are colourful and some are just plain huge. Based on many avid opinions, the Freshwater Drum rules a category of its own, one that offers every angler the opportunity to experience on their own value terms. They frequent a variety of convenient local waters, they’ll willingly bite a basic, low cost rig that consists of a hook, sinker and backyard earthworm and they can be successfully targeted from accessible shorelines throughout many of our provincial regions. But wait, it doesn’t end there!

The Drum is undoubtedly one of the toughest opponents to swim our waters and a serious candidate for a heavyweight designation. When they hit, they hit hard, giving you an immediate and noticeable strain in the wrist and shoulder area upon setting your hook. Powerful head shakes and every inch of their evasive efforts will be felt, while at the same time peeling your line and punishing your tackle to the brink of failure. An oversized Drum will literally blow your mind, their sheer power is utterly impressive and they are no stranger to busting lines or straightening hooks. They can also be equally as clever to the point of stripping you of $5.00 worth of night crawlers or shrimp without giving you an honest chance of hooking them. They have game, brains and brawn, they are a complete package!

When, Where and How?

Freshwater Drum are great prospects during the months of May and June when they move into various Manitoba tributaries to spawn and congregate in large numbers. The early months are most favourable for consistent opportunities at Master Angler size fish. The minimum requirement is 24 inches with many reaching 30 inches plus. The Manitoba record is a whopping 35 inches!

Top producing locations and local favorites for Freshwater Drum are the Whitemud River, Red River, Waterhen River, Assiniboine River, and Fairford River.

Freshwater Drum love hard bottom transitions on the edge of flats or drop offs with little to no current. Target these areas with a simple slip or bell sinker bait rig tipped with night crawlers or shrimp on a number 2 Octopus hook. A good rod and reel set up is a 6 1/2- to 7 1/2-foot medium to medium heavy spinning or casting rod with matching reels. Spool with 12 to 14 pound test braid or mono and attach an 18 inch, 10 to 12 pound test fluorocarbon leader to maximize your presentation.