Salt Water Fish
The General Assembly of 1971 designated the Channel Bass (Red Drum) as the official State Salt Water Fish. (Session Laws, 1971, c. 274).
Channel Bass (Sciaenops ocellatus) are usually found in large numbers along the Tar Heel coastal waters, and have been found to weigh up to 75 pounds--although most large ones average between 30 and 40 pounds.
Session Laws, 1971, c. 274:
H. B. 655 CHAPTER 274
AN ACT DESIGNATING THE CHANNEL BASS (RED DRUM) AS THE OFFICIAL STATE SALT WATER FISH.
The General Assembly of North Carolina do enact:
Section 1. Chapter 145 of the General Statutes is hereby amended by adding a new section at the end thereof, to be designated as G.S. 145-6, and to read as follows:
"§ 145-6. Official State salt water fish .—The Channel Bass (Red Drum) is hereby adopted as the official State salt water fish of the State of North Carolina."
Sec. 2. This act shall become effective upon ratification.
In the General Assembly read three times and ratified, this the 30th day of April, 1971.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Howard Penton, D-New Hanover County, and Rep. George Rountree, R-New Hanover County. A newspaper article at the time pointed out the Channel Bass has black spots on its tail, evoking North Carolina's "tar heel" nickname.
References and additional resources:
Profile of N.C. fishing industry  (Channel Bass begins page 34)
Red Drum  (from NC Fisheries)
Resources in Worldcat 
Associated Press. "Channel Bass is Honored." Burlington Daily Times-News. 2A. April 30, 1971.
"Coast Line." The Robesonian. 4B. May 16, 1971.
1 June 2007 | Case, Steven; Childs, Mike