Monday, October 4, 2010

Sciaenops Ocellatus or The Red Drum : Part 2

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this series , the Red Drum is a hard fighting fish that likes rough water. Because of this , there are some specialized techniques necessary to be successful when targeting these fish.

Most Drum fishermen will eventually start using 10-12 foot casting rods and baitcasting reels , but most of us start out with more affordable and easier to use spinning outfits. Either way , it is important to remember that you will need high line capacity to handle these strong fighters. Large Drums are capable of pulling 200+ yards of line off of the spool during their initial run , so buy reels that can handle 250 or more yards of 20lb. line. The longer rods are necessary when using heavy weights in rough water. Shorter rods just don't stand up to the abuse caused by 8 ounce sinkers and they don't cast as far either.

Water conditions dictate what size sinker you should use. In prime drum fishing conditions at places like Cape Point on the Outer Banks of North Carolina , 6 to 8 ounce pyramid sinkers are almost always required to hold your bait in place. This necessitates the use of a Shock Leader to prevent break offs during the cast. I recommend using a leader that is about twice the length of your rod and wraps around the spool of your reel at least 3 times , but you can shorten or lengthen it to suit the way you cast. When using casting gear make sure the knot used to attach the leader to the main line doesn't lay under your thumb at the start of the cast , and with spinning reels make sure the knot is at the bottom of the spool to avoid tangles. A good rule of thumb for leaders is ten pounds for every ounce of weight , though I rarely use over 50 lb. line for shock leaders.

After you have your shock leader tied on it's time to get rigged up to catch a Drum. The most basic rig used by drum fishermen is the " Fish Finder " rig and it is simple to set up. The reason this rig is so effective is the sinker slide that allows the main line to pass through freely so the fish doesn't feel the weight of the sinker until the hook is set. Thread the shock leader through the sinker slide and attach a brass barrel swivel to the end of the leader. Now attach a 3-4 foot length of 40 lb. line to the other end of the swivel and tie a 4/0 to 8/0 circle hook to the end. That's it. You can use a snap swivel instead of a sinker slide for this rig , but most prefer the slides because they seem to be a little bit easier on your line. There are several variations of this rig out there that I may cover at a later time. Most notable of these is the addition of a dropper loop 2 feet above the hook to which you can attach a hook dressed with chartreuse hair or feathers. This " teaser " makes the rig more effective for smaller drum in my opinion.

The same rig can be used for puppy drum with the use of smaller hooks , but I will often just use a regular bottom fishing rig for them. These smaller fish will also take artificial baits at certain times of the year when they are feeding heavily. My favorite artificial for pups has always been a chartreuse curly tail grub fished on a red jig head.

Because of their rapid growth rate , Red Drums of all sizes will take a variety of baits. For smaller fish I like using sand fleas , cut bait , peeler crabs and occasionally shrimp. For larger fish my favorite baits would be spot heads , mullet and menhaden. There are lots of different opinions out there regarding the best baits for drum. I don't think any bait is better than another , but it depends on what the fish are eating on any given day. It's always a good idea to experiment with different baits.

Regardless of how you choose to fish for them , these amazing fish are a favorite of many anglers because of the hard fight they put up when hooked. I hope they become one of your favorites too.

Have a great week!

1 comment:

  1. Something I forgot to mention : October , November and sometimes the first two weeks of December are usually the best months for catching Red Drums on the Outer Banks.

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