The freshwater drum is native to North and Central America and can be found throughout most of the Mississippi River basin. It is known by many names, such as sheepshead, croaker, thunder pumper, grunter, perch, purple perch, and gaspergou (you name it, literally!). Many of these names are earned from the different sounds the species makes. The male will often make grunting noises by rubbing muscles along its swim bladder, causing it to vibrate.
The freshwater drum is typically a silver grey to purple color on top and lighter silver on the bottom. It is a deep-bodied fish, with its mouth located toward the bottom of its head, an extended dorsal fin, and a rounded tail fin.
Primarily a bottom feeder, the freshwater drum eats a variety of foods, including crustaceans, minnows, aquatic insects, and mollusks. It has specialized pharyngeal, or throat, teeth that help it crunch up the shells of mussels and snails.
The freshwater drum has very large otoliths, or ear bones, that can be used for jewelry and good luck charms.
Most anglers consider the drum to be a rough fish, as it can easily be caught with a rod and reel, but in some areas it is a valuable food fish. It is a strong fighter, and can be caught by targeting the bottom of lakes or rivers using a variety of jigs or live worms.