The black drum, the largest species in the drum family, is both a fine eating fish and excellent sport fish, depending on the size of fish targeted. These large fish are commonly 20-to-50 pounds, and reach over 100 pounds when fully grown.
In general, the smaller fish taste very similar to a redfish, while the larger fish do not taste as well. Black drum are a rather simple fish, but still take some time and patience to learn the tricks of the trade. Here, we present the Top 10 Tips and Tricks for catching these big drums.
1. Fish where the fish are.
This sounds simple enough, but if you head on the water without knowing where the fish will be during each season, you might not find the fish. Black drum can be found in the shallow flats through the spring and fall, and in the early summer mornings, but found in much deeper channel waters during the midday summer and winter seasons.
2. Natural bait is best.
Black drum are sensory-oriented fish, relying more on their sense of smell and taste from their chin barbels than on sight. Because of this, natural bait and cut bait are much better than artificial bait for catching drums.
3. Crack open your bait.
If you are in the perfect spot and not getting bites, try breaking open your crabs, pinching the heads off the shrimp, or pinching the clams or mussels to release more scent and “flavors” into the water for attracting the fish into biting.
4. Fish the spring “drum run.”
Each year between February and April, the biggest spawning individuals from all around the estuaries will gather in the deep inlets and passes for spawning. Target them in the deep water right along the edge of the channel by drifting baits in the direction of the moving tide.
5. Fish the flats early on summer mornings.
If you’re looking for schooling, tailing fish worthy of sight fishing on the flats, you’ll have to be out early in the spring and summertime. Early morning is the best time because as the day goes on, those fish will travel into the deep channels to get to the cooler water.
6. Use the natural currents.
The big Black drum in the channels will be oriented facing the incoming water on moving tides. Make sure your baits move with the same direction as the natural flow of water with those moving tides, or else your bait will be moving toward the fish’s tails instead of their mouths.
7. Don’t spook tailing fish.
Tailing fish in the shallows are your best chance at catching drum on artificial lures and flies, or simply having excellent success with natural baits. When sight fishing these fish, be sure to keep your distance and cast far, because the more spooked the fish, the less likely they are to bite, especially an artificial lure or fly.
8. Use medium or heavy tackle.
These are big fish. Fish around 50 pounds are not uncommon, while the record fish taken on the east coast of Florida was over 100 pounds! The bottom line is to use generally heavy tackle to ensure landing these large fish.
9. Use conventional tackle near structures and deep water.
Conventional tackle has much greater leverage than spinning tackle. For this reason, use conventional gear when targeting these big fish near structures such as bridge pilings or channel markers in deep water, so that you can have the leverage to pull the fish away from those structures to avoid the line getting cut on the edges.
10. Use a soft-tipped rod.
A good soft-tipped rod is perfect for use with cut bait or live bait. A fast-action rod is what you should use for artificals. Farther casts are always good in shallow water, where you don’t want to spook schools of fish. Greater sensitivity will come in handy for feeling the often subtle bite as the drum suck down the bait.
10 things to remember when Black drum fishing:
As previously mentioned, the Black drum is a rather simple fish when compared to more complicated species. They are however, a great challenge to catch in certain scenarios, especially using artificial lures and flies. Commonly reaching 50 pounds, these fish make great sport for anglers wanting big fish without traveling several miles offshore. Hopefully these top 10 tips give you what you need to do so.