Captain Dave Sipler
An alternative Winter Fish Species… besides Sheepshead!!!
"Redfish's ugly cousin". Yep, that's what I've always called them. The Black Drum. A favorite winter time species for me. Not all that glamorous. But you have to look at the positives. And look beyond their appearance. To have them in your personal favorites list.
First off, around here, a Black Drum doesn't act like some super predator. They seem to behave more like a Sheepshead, kind of grazing around. Looking at the bottom for a many times "smellier" meal. They do have very pronounced nostrils, and actually four of them right above their mouths, so that ought to tell you something about how they feed. Their noses really lead them around.
I've caught two in my whole life on artificial lures (soft plastic on a jig head). And each one wasn't over 5 or 6 pounds. In NE Florida, the Black Drum act differently than the Drum I see caught over in Louisiana. Over there, they readily eat unflavored plastic, as well as hard bodied lures. Not here! But it would be nice if they obliged more often.
The largest Black Drum ever caught on my boat was weighed on a 100 pound scale I kept on the boat for Tarpon.
It took four customers about two hours to get it to the boat. And it weighed in at 92 pounds. We were anchored up off the end of the south Jetty, at the inlet, many many moons ago. During April, on a "kitchen sink" bait, i.e. dead shrimp with some fresh clam strip wrapped in a package with a strip of squid. AKA - a stink bomb.
The really big ones are usually spring fish. But that's not the ones I want to take home. Right now, in the depths of winter, I want those winter time 15 to 20 inchers, (A Positive). Of course those expensive Blue Crabs and the other expensive crabs [if available], a 16th of the size called Fiddler Crabs can be used with success for Black Drum, too. But, I usually I just use jumbo dead Shrimp pieces. If they are there. They'll eat it, no problem. (A Positive)
But, I'll come clean with you all.
The real reason I like Black Drum in the deep winter months is, that these days, I only catch Redfish that are too big or too small.
So, if I want a few decent "eaters" in the fish box. I'll take Black Drum!
At 14” to 24" with one over 24" out of a 5 per person limit, it sounds like a deal to me. (A Real Positive), especially compared to Redfish regs.
And since I'm not into splitting hairs, my live or dead Shrimp may also catch a Sheepshead, an elusive 21'' Redfish or a Speckled Trout.
Visit my YouTube channel for endless Jacksonville fishing at: youtube.com/c/captdavessportfishing.
Capt. Dave's Sport Fishing