The black drum is a cousin of one of my favorite fish… the redfish. It is the largest species of the drum family. The average black drum is about 5-30 lbs. but, they have been known to reach 90 lbs. The juveniles look very similar to the sheepshead. They are a silver-grey color with 4-5 vertical black bars running across their body. The main difference are that sheepshead have crazy human-like teeth and Black Drum have chin barbells. When they grow longer than about 24 inches they start to lose their black bars and become a solid dark silver-grey color. Their mouths are on the bottom of their face with whiskers under the chin, making them the ultimate bottom feeder!
The smaller fish usually like to hang out in brackish water near cover or structure. The larger fish will venture out into the saltier areas where most of the time they like to hang out by structure as well like oyster bars, rock piles, piers, docks, etc… Look for black drum tailing like redfish near oyster bars on low incoming tides. Or on higher tides look for them in small tight schools cruising the flats. Most of the time the pods of fish are 3- 12 fish slowly swimming around looking for their next meal. This is a great opportunity to sight cast to them. Targeting them around bridge pilings are another great way to catch HUGE Black Drum. I’ve have friends who vertical jig for them along the pilings and catch monsters. My favorite way is to drop down good size fresh chunks of blue crab down and wait. It won’t be long until you have a monster on your line.
Baits I like to use to target them…Starting out with artificial baits -Right now in the backwaters, I have been catching them on heavy jig heads with a root beer colored Monster 3X X- Swim 3 ¾ inch shrimp. Also small bait fish patterns as well. Working them slowly, bouncing them off the bottom. On the flats, I have been using the same method just lightening the jig head and sight casting tailing fish or pods of fish cruising. With a little Pro Cure scent and working it slowly, it will usually get the job done. If you like using live bait… A shrimp on a jig head or free lined on a 2/0 Owner circle hook would be my next bait of choice. Most of the time they won’t be able to resist ole trusty shrimp! Fishing Docks, bridge pilings, or structure would be my next choice, using a chunk of crab on a circle hook with enough weight to keep it down near the bottom. They will smell that out from far away!
Black Drum are great fighters and under 15 lbs. can be absolutely delicious! Next time you have a chance at a black drum, give them a shot. It might become one of your new favorite species! Till next time, Be Safe! Tight Lines and Tight Knots!