Black drum provide rod bending action this spring
For The Record – Capt. Chuck Uzzle
It is always the intent of any fisherman to do battle with a mighty fish, a
giant of epic proportions that will live forever in memories for years to come.
For most folks who do not regularly inhabit offshore waters your choices of
really big fish to catch are rather small. The occasional redfish of 35 to 40
inches are often the biggest boys in the neighborhood next to alligator gar or
maybe a big catfish. You can add another name to the list of heavyweights that
make a name for themselves during this time of year, black drum.
Under normal everyday conditions black drum inhabit our surrounding waters in
respectable numbers most of the year. Generally the drum that are found on the
north end of Sabine Lake and in the Sabine River are usually anywhere from 12
to 20 inches long. During the past several seasons while fishing the Sabine
river and Intracoastal canal I have had several of these big black drum
over 40 pounds caught by clients while fishing live shad. Let me say this, “ A
drum that size is a real deal workout any way you look at it”.
These huge fish are normally found closer to the jetties and out in the gulf,
but at times when we have no freshwater coming down the rivers and the saltwater
backs up daily it is not surprising to see these giant fish all over the place.
On a run out to the jetties I stopped to watch a fisherman do battle with one of
these huge fish. Slow powerful runs kept the rod bent nearly in two as the great
fish worked the drag system over for more than 20 minutes. My clients and I were
amused by the fight and gave out encouraging words and congratulations as the
fish finally was brought to the boat. Perhaps the best description of what
happens when you hook one of these giants is to compare them to hooking a
runaway golf cart, they won’t outrun you but you just can’t stop them either
when they decide to pull.
Big black drum can be caught on a variety of baits, shad, mullet, or shrimp are
good options but the best bet for these huge fish is crab. Big black drum are
suckers for a piece of crab fished on or near the bottom. Popular rigging for
this method consists of hooking a 1/4 of a whole crab onto a 3/0 or 4/0 live
bait hook that is tied to a 1/2 ounce weighted Carolina rig with 18 to 24 inches
of leader. Some fishermen really beef up their tackle by using 20 to 25 pound
test monofilament and big heavy rods, use your own discretion and just remember
what they say about chasing a bear with a switch.
Some of the more humorous battles I have witnessed where black drum were
involved happened down on the Causeway reef in the middle of a fleet of boats
chasing trout. It never fails when you start fishing a little deeper water
somebody on the boat will hook up with one of these brutes and the rodeo begins.
Trying to coax a big fish in and around other boats without hanging up on other
lines or breaking off on oyster is a challenge to say the least. The only way
this scene gets any crazier is when you hook up with a jack crevalle in the same
area, the jacks pull just as hard only they run a little farther away which
means you involve more boats and more people. As long as you are a spectator
it’s awful funny, when you are the poor guy trying to make sense out of the
whole thing when one of these big fish bites it gets somewhat stressful but in a
Hooking up and landing a fish in the 40 to 50 pound class is real treat for any
fisherman, especially those of the inshore ranks. Big fish like these don’t come
around often and the spring is one of the best times all year to tangle with a
really big fish. As the water warms up in the coming months the big fish will
become a little more scarce and the “slot sized” fish will take their place. The
smaller drum are excellent table fare and should not be discounted as just
another fish, they hold their own along side french fries with the best of them.
Overall the black drum provides many opportunities and should not be discounted
as a lesser fish because they really give you plenty of bang for your buck.