J UNE IS A GOOD MONTH to get in on the action for the tasty black drum. These are not the big ugly ones with worms in their flesh that can be caught in the ship channel in the spring, but the smaller fish.
“I personally think they are better eating than redfish,” said Port Aransas guide, Capt Jack McPartland.
Schooling black drum can be found from Carlos Bay to Ingleside. “It’s sight casting, the same thing you would be doing for redfish,” said McPartland. “Look for reefs and ditches coming off the flats and the islands. You’ll see them schooling.”
The Morris Cummings Cut, California Hole, Aransas Boat Channel fingers, Northwest Shoreline and the west shorelines of Copano Bay are all good places to start your quest. If you don’t see any drum popping up, get your map out and check GPS numbers for another similar spot.
“At this time of year I’ve seen five, and I’ve seen 200 pods,” McPartland said. “It just depends on where they are eating and how much they have been run over by boats, the typical stuff.
“Sometimes the drum can be found in the fingers off the Aransas Channel in Port Aransas. Kayakers can reach locations easily.”
Dead shrimp from bait stands, but frozen dead shrimp from the supermarket will work. “Shrimp get scarce at the bait stands at times, especially since Port Aransas is still undergoing construction after Hurricane Harvey,” he said. “I use a 6/0 circle hook. A big shrimp, without additional weight, will go a long way if you can cast good.”
If he or his clients can’t get close enough to the blacks free-lining, no weight, then he’ll add a light jig head. “I’ll try it with a light jig head, maybe a 1/16 oz. or 1/8 oz to get a little more distance if needed,” he said. “An egg-style weight works for adding distance, but the standard jig head is a better choice. That plunk hitting the water quite often scares the fish off.
“If you move up closer on them and you notice that they have moved along 10 yards or so, back off a ways and switch over to a jig so that your cast can still reach the fish, but don’t push them. If you keep pushing the pods of black drum, they’re going to run off and go deep. People push them because they are getting too close trying to reach them.”
Line choice: McPartland spools his reels with braid line and uses monofilament for the leader. He ties the two lines together with a knot. “I don’t like to use any metal such as a swivel; the only metal is the hook.
“If you become snagged, the monofilament will break, but the braid will not,” he said. “If you get hung up, can’t free it, you end up cutting 20 to 30 yards of braid off. Tie on a monofilament leader about one or two feet long. Break it off, and you lose only a yard or so.
McPartland uses 30-pound braid and 20-pound monofilament. Twenty pound braid doesn’t hold the knots properly; “I think it is too thin. The knots come undone too easily.”
He likes the Albright Special knot (www.netknots.com/fishing_knots/albright-special). “Make a loop in the monofilament, holding the loop with your thumb. Thread the braid through the loop, and below the loop, around both pieces of string nine times and then back through the hook the opposite way that you did the first time, and cinch it tight.”
Why not include a swivel and tie to it?
“I don’t like anything that’s going to drag, hang, and snag anything, McPartland said. “I realize there’s not much to a swivel, but it still has a little bit of weight on it. I grew up doing it this way and have never changed.”
Sometimes a few redfish will be mixed in with the black drum. The same terminal rigging, bait and fishing technique works for the reds
It’s pretty simple…”dead shrimp and find the schools. Once in awhile I’ll catch one on a piece of cut mullet. As soon as we do we immediately switch to shrimp because we know they like that best.
If you don’t see them, you will probably end up just feeding the perch. You want to find the drums. If they are in the deep ditches they will rise up to the surface, and you’ll see the pod come up. Sometimes they will come up and down. Just try to stay with them. Go look for them.”
Location: Oso Fishing Pier
Species: Black drum
Techniques: Live shrimp, crag. Use light bottom rigs and work the pilings.
Email Tom Behrens at [email protected]