Freshwater Drum

There has been a lot of talk amongst members here lately about Freshwater Drum or as most people call them sheepshead. I for 1 don’t eat them but consider them to be a fun fish to catch because of the fight they put up.

A few week ago while fishing up at the Maumee river with a few buddies I noticed one of the guys had several sheep head on his stringer. I politely asked him if he was going to use them as fertilizer for his garden, he laughed and stated that he was going to fry them up to eat. I have never tried to eat one or tasted one but have heard from others that theyre a real boney fish and have a bad taste.

This past week I was out fishing the Maumee again with another friend and we were catching quite a few sheep head and whenever he caught one he would throw it up onto the banks to die stating they’re a trash fish and wreak havoc on the river system. I usually throw mine back since they are a native fish to Ohio and I rather catch something than nothing any day of the week. So here is a few questions  I have for those of you that fish and catch these fish…..

1. What do you do with them when you catch them? Do you eat them, throw them on the bank , etc…

2.  If you do eat them, how do you clean, prepare and cook them? Share your favorite recipe if you got one.


  1. Scott Fuqua says:

    Just did a little research on how to prepare them and one of the keys is to put them on ice as soon as you catch them.. If you put them in a wire basket or on a stringer, they quickly die, and the flesh soon spoils. Also found that drums do not have the many small Y-bones found in carp and suckers. Filleting your catch and removing all dark red meat along the lateral line produces boneless fish that when cooked is firm, not flaky, and delicately flavored.

    Just gotta find a good recipe now and Im going to have to give it a try.

  2. Jason says:

    I wouldnt waste your time Scott, they are trash fish.

    • Scott Fuqua says:

      The more I read about them the more I want to try them.I always thought of them as a Carp and it turns out there more like a red drum and you know me Ill try anything once.

  3. Scott Fuqua says:

    I found a recipe I think Im going to give a try

    Garlic & Ginger Sheepshead

    Ingredients :
    4 Sheepshead Fillets
    4oz Butter
    Spring Onions
    Fresh Ginger
    Fresh Garlic
    Ground Black Pepper

    Place fillets flesh up on tin foil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper fresh ginger and garlic. Add sliced spring onions and knobs of butter to suit. Seal in foil then bake on grill or campfire for approx 20 mins.

  4. Scott Fuqua says:

    The more I look the more I find… this looks better than the one I listed earlier.

    Spicy Sheepshead Nuggets

    2 lb sheepshead fillets, cut into bite-sized chunks
    3 eggs, slightly beaten
    1/2 cup milk
    1/2 cup beer
    3 tablespoons prepared mustard
    1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
    2 teaspoons salt, divided
    2 teaspoons black pepper, divided
    1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided
    3 cups fine yellow corn flour
    vegetable oil

    In a mixing bowl whisk together eggs, milk, beer, mustard, Tabasco, and half of the salt and pepper. Place fish in egg mixture, coating well; cover, refrigerate, and let soak for about 1 hour. Mix corn flour with the remaining salt and peppers in a shallow, wide bowl. Preheat oil in deep fryer to about 370 degrees. Remove fish from mixture and dredge with corn flour mixture. Fry fish until the fish nuggets float to the surface and turn golden brown, taking care not to overcook. Place fish nuggets on paper towels to drain. Serves 4-6.

  5. Scott Fuqua says:

    Just got done talking to JW and he said his father soaked the ones he caught a few weeks ago in red wine before cooking them and they turned out pretty good.

  6. Scott Fuqua says:

    Fried some fresh water drum up tonight and I must admit if you get it on ice and clean them right they are really good eating. The kids tore them up.

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