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Fishing Tips: How to Catch Black Drum, with Fishing Video

Updated on October 13, 2011

Black drum are common saltwater fish that can be found near shore and inshore, all along the east coast and in the Gulf of Mexico. Younger fish, often called puppy drum, are a silver-gray, with vertical black stripes. Puppy drum recipes are delicious, but older, larger fish aren't good to eat. Also, as the fish get older, their appearance changes, and their stripes fade. Black drum have a high back and barbel feelers on the underside of the jaw. Their bodies are usually thick.

Black drum feed on shrimp, minnows, worms, fiddlers, small blue crabs, and sand fleas. Their "teeth" are located in their pharynx, where crabs and mollusks are crushed after being consumed.

One of the best places to fish for drum is around structures like piers. There, the drum feed on barnacles that grow on the pilings. It's also common to find the drum near rocks and oyster beds. You won't need any fancy equipment. If you're fishing from the pier, a simple rod-and-reel combo will work, and if you're fishing under the pier from the surf, even a cane pole will do. Just make sure you use enough weight to keep your bait on the bottom because that's where the fish will be searching for food using their barbels.

Some of the best baits include dead shrimp, fiddler crabs, cut bait, and sand fleas. My favorite cut bait for black drum is mullet because it exudes a strong odor that attracts fish. Sand fleas, also known as mole crabs, can often be purchased frozen at a bait store. You can also catch your own in the surf. Better yet, assign that job to the kids. I discuss the process in my "Free Bait" article, and I have attached the link.

Blue crabs also make excellent drum bait. Small peelers are best, but if you have larger crabs, cut or break them in half. This not only makes the bait a more manageable size, it also puts more scent in the water. Scented artificial lures that resemble small crabs will also work.

Most drums will mouth a bait before actually eating it, so don't be too quick to set the hook. These fish put up a valiant fight. Although they don't perform the arials or line-ripping runs of some gamefish species, they are strong. They'll remain on the bottom for as long as possible, and they'll seek a current to help in their escape.

These guys get huge! The largest on record weighed close to 150 pounds. The really big drum are not good for eating. The smaller ones, however, are quite tasty and are similar to redfish in texture and flavor. If you land a puppy drum - one under 5 pounds, keep it for the table and prepare it with one of these fish recipes. Cut off the head after landing to allow the fish to "bleed out." Then take one fillet from each side, removing the skin. Wash the fillets thoroughly and place immediately on ice or in the fridge.

When you're ready to cook your catch, dip each fillet in buttermilk, then dredge in flour. Fry the fish at about 360 degrees until they're golden brown and crispy. Drain on several layers of paper towels and serve hot.


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