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Fish News: Black Drum: An Under Performer

Fish News
Black Drum: An Under Performer
by Dr. Ken Neill, III

On the Healthy Grin, we mostly fished for red drum over the Memorial Day Weekend. We caught a bunch. My crew were Dr. Julie Ball and Stephen Powell. We ended up with 6 fish of citation size and a good number of other nice fish in the 43 to just under the 46 inch minimum. The largest fish was a 49.5 inch fish caught by Julie. All of the fish were caught on Nautilus Shoal. In the daytime, we caught them trolling spoons. At night, we caught them on peeler crab and cut bunker.
Robin and Julie Ball spent Memorial Day fishing for tautog. They fished a couple of coastal wrecks and caught them all day long along with some nice sea bass to almost 5 pounds. The largest togs were Julie's 23 and 23.5 (in photo) inch fish that she released for citations. They kept about 20 fish (togs and sea bass) to eat and released everything else. I asked them if they had seen any spadefish while they were on the wrecks and they said no. The previous day, Robin Ball had fished the light tower where he did see big spadefish but he could not get them to bite so he went over to the Tower Reef where he caught tautog to 7.5 pounds.
May 30, Capt. Richard Bartlett, (757) 876-5376, took a charter out after red drum. They managed to catch two on Nautilus Shoal. They also managed to catch a bunch of skates, sharks, and rays.
May 30, Bob Manus took his wife and her mother out after some flounder. They fished over at 36A. They ended up with 14 keepers up to 23 inches long.
May 29, Don Forman fished Plantation Light for flounder. They kept 7 fish to 24.5 inches plus they caught a number of short fish. They then ran to the Inner Middle Grounds to fish for drum. They caught a bunch of rockfish and 9 black drum between 15 and 30 pounds.
May 29, Frank Kearney fished off of Cape Charles. They ended up with 12 flounder up to 23 inches. Frank said that the bite was very light and you needed to be holding the rod to detect it.
May 29, Jorj Head and Matt Rinck spent the afternoon anchored on the Cell. They were after big gray trout. They then decided that they were after the monster spadefish that were swimming around their boat. They did not have much luck with either. They hooked one of the spades which then pulled off. They hooked and lost a couple of big fish on Storm lures cast for trout. They don't know if they had trout or whether they had snagged one of the big spadefish.
May 29, Brian Gross fished buoy 13 for black drum and Nautilus Shoal for red drum. They caught 5 blacks and 6 reds. One of the blacks was long enough and two of the reds qualified.
May 29, Bob Manus took his father-in-law, Paul Keicer, and his running buddy Howie Medford fishing. Both gentlemen are in their upper 80s so bob wanted to keep them close to home. They caught horse croaker until they could not crank anymore. Bob said that both men were truly kids again. Bob thinks that this will be his best trip of the year.
May 28, Steve Martin started at the 3rd island of the CBBT and caught bluefish for bait. They then jigged up a limit of striped bass in the 22 to 25 inch range. He said that took all of 15 minutes. They then ran to Bluefish Rock and fished for flounder. They caught 11. Their biggest was a 27", 7 pound 4 ounce doormat.
May 28, I fished Nautilus Shoal with Dr. Julie Ball and Stephen Powell. We caught a bunch of red drum. We had 6 between 46 and 49.5 inches and a number more under the 46 inch citation minimum. We caught them in the daylight by trolling spoons. We caught them in the dark on peeler crab and cut bunker. After we had caught all of the red drum that we wanted, we ran up the bay. We fished around the Cell and managed one 18 inch flounder. We did catch croaker up to 17 inches. We then ran all the way out to the Chesapeake Light Tower where we had heard there were spadefish. We did not see any though they were seen by others. We went over to the Tower Reef where we caught some sea bass to maybe 3 pounds and tautog to 20 inches.
Notable Catches:
May 28, Julie Ball: from Virginia Beach: Red Drum: 49.5, 47, 46.25 inches: Nautilus Shoal Stephen Powell: from Seaford: Red Drum: 48.5 inches: Nautilus Shoal Ken Neill: from Seaford: Red Drum: 46.5 inches: Nautilus Shoal

Dr. Neill writes a weekly column for The Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman's Association (

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