Black Drum in the Surf

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black drum fishing in the surf

Catching a black in the suds is a ton of fun. Photo courtesy of John Unkart

When it comes to catching black drum, one of the toughest challenges to surmount is hauling a black in through the surf. Surf fishing has a number of difficult aspects – weather may be an issue by creating big waves or blowing sand; all sorts of small fish and crabs steal your bait; sand gets everywhere and into everything…the list goes on and on. But when you haul a drum up onto the beach, there’s a real feeling of accomplishment. So: are you ready to go after blacks in the suds? These tips will help make the trip a success.

black drum fishing in the surf

Catching a black in the suds is a ton of fun. Photo courtesy of John Unkart.

  1. Match the hatch. In the surf, black drum are often hyper-focused on one specific prey. There may be shoals of baitfish moving through, lots of crabs in the surf, or whatever. Remember that crustaceans are always a good bet when it comes to drum. The best way to approach bait is to come armed with a selection, and change your offerings constantly until you figure out what the fish are feeding on.
  2. Change your bait often. Every 15 minutes to half hour, reel in and put on some fresh stuff. Much of the hunting done in the surf is via smell, and you want your offering to have plenty of attraction. On top of that, the action of the waves and bait-stealers may mean you’re fishing with bare hooks half the time, if you don’t check that bait often enough the black drum might not get a chance to find it.
  3. Read the beach before choosing a spot. Most of the time, your best spots will be where there’s a trough or hole within casting distance. So take some time to observe the breakers and look for oddities in the geography, before you settle in for quality black drum fishing.
  4. Beware of over-casting. Quite often there will be a trough right behind the breakers, then a shallow bar. In some cases it’s possible to over-cast the trough and place your baits up on top of the bar – where you won’t catch nearly as many fish. Essentially, you’ll want to make sure your bait is in the deepest water within casting range and sometimes, that’s just a dozen or two feet behind the breakers.
  5. Use circle hooks, period. Drum are always excellent candidates for circle hooks (their jaws just seem designed for them) and in the surf, you rarely have the opportunity for a proper hook-set. With a pyramid sinker stuck in the sand and a circle hook on your rig, however, if a drum takes the bait there’s an excellent chance for a solid hook-up.


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