Big drum offer up a full pull
Spring is the time when the whole fishing world loses its collective mind, winter is in the rear view mirror and most anglers are suffering miserably from cabin fever. Some of the angling faithful have taken advantage of the lack of ‘on the water’ participation from most fishermen, big trout hunters have spent the past weeks waist deep in chilly water snatching stud trout from nearly every venue along the coast. Bass fishermen have enjoyed some incredible catches already this spring; double digit bass seem to be popping up anywhere and everywhere.
Big trout and big bass certainly steal the thunder for the most part at this time of the year but they aren’t the only big fish game in town. Right now there are some genuine huge fish patrolling the near shore waters and only a few people actually take advantage of what could be the best opportunity all year to take a bona fide giant fish.
The jetty systems at both Sabine and Calcasieu are known for spitting out some huge redfish and black drum. These fish routinely top the 40 pound mark and occasionally go much bigger. This style of fishing is nothing close to finesse and requires some degree of patience along with some good gear. If catching the biggest fish of your life interests you then read on.
Having these giant fish so close is not a new concept, for many years local anglers have gone to the rocks to tackle these huge fish. In a yearly ritual both fish and fishermen make their way to the passes, each for different reasons. The spring currents and water temps coax the redfish and black drum to follow their instincts and heed the call of nature; this is what brings them within most anglers reach. These big spawning size fish make an annual predictable migration that only few fishermen take full advantage of.
Once you decide to head for the jetties or the channel to tackle one of these awesome fish you need to be sure to gear up accordingly. Light action rods meant for chunking soft plastics and topwaters need not apply here, you can catch these fish on those lighter rods but they are certainly not preferred. A quality rod made to handle 20 pound test monofilament is a good place to start, the stiffer the action the better. Fish of this size are not delicate; they are pulling machines and require the angler to put plenty of pressure on them. A quality reel capable of storing a good amount of 15 to 20 pound test mono is the other piece of the equation. The old tried and true wide framed Ambassador or Calcutta are favorites for this duty. Good drags on reels are also a must as these fish will certainly put them to the test.
Rigging up for these fish consists of a basics fish finder rig, also known as a Carolina rig. On the terminal end of the rig it’s preferable to have some heavy shock leader or fluorocarbon for extra abrasion protection from rocks, shell, or gill plates. The big 5/0 circle, live bait, or J style hooks are tailor made for this application, they need little or no pressure for a hook set and make releasing these big fish much easier as they tend to lodge in the corner of the mouth rather than being swallowed. Any number of live or dead baits will work on these fish, shrimp, crab, mullet, or shad area all proven producers. Cracked crab is probably the favorite of the baits mentioned; the big reds and black drum are suckers for fresh crab.
Now that you are all rigged up it’s time to concentrate on an area, deeper holes along the jetty wall and along the channel are without a doubt the best places to start. These depressions tend to congregate big fish as bait gathers in these areas on tide changes. The fish don’t have to move around much to get a meal. One of my personal favorite places to use this technique is around Lighthouse Cove; the shallow shell that lines the drop off into the ship channel is a magnet for these big fish. Also, there are several spots along the jetty that are deeper than the rest, the end of the Texas jetty on the gulf side is also a great place to start.
Once you locate these big fish and catch a couple, you will see how amazing this style of fishing can be. The opportunity to catch 40 plus inch fish that weigh near 50 pounds is awfully exciting, I don’t care who you are. A couple of reminders: take caution fishing around the channel or the jetty system because the ship traffic can be dangerous if you are not careful; be sure to take care of these huge fish when you catch them, most will be too large to keep so take care when releasing them so they can live another day.
Now that you have the low down on catching those huge fish, get out there and get your line and arms stretched out.