Fish News: Black Drum: An Under Performer

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

Water temperatures are heating up and so is the fishing action. The one fish that has been an under performer so far has been the black drum. Fish are being caught around buoy 13 and 16 and also along the seaside inlets of the Eastern Shore but not in the numbers that you would expect. If they don't turn on this week, they may not. The good news is that in the years that they have not made a good showing at the "Cabbage Patch" area, they have made a good showing at the islands of the CBBT. So maybe, we will have a good summer casting bucktails to cruising fish at the 2nd and 3rd islands. The red drum bite looks to be off to a good start. Big reds are on the shoals at the mouth of the bay and along the barrier islands. Flounder fishing has been very good. Limits of fish have been caught around 36A, Hampton Bar, and along the CBBT. Big gray trout have been caught at the 3rd and 4th islands of the CBBT. The HRBT and the Cell would be a couple of other good areas to look. Tautog action has remained very good. A lot of fish are being caught along the CBBT. Some bigger fish have been caught a bit further out. The Tower Reef has produced some big fish. Nice sized sea bass have moved onto the Triangle Wrecks. A lot of school sized stripers can be found around the islands of the CBBT. Some larger fish are falling to live bait fished over the tubes. Spadefish should be arriving very soon. I have heard rumors of some already. The tuna bite out of Hatteras has taken a bit of a breather this past week. Dolphin and wahoo have filled in the void.
May 16, John Hunt fished out of Hatteras. They did not find any tuna. They managed to fight through a bunch of grass to catch 7 dolphin.
May 14-15, I went drum fishing with Bob Manus, Jorj Head, and Dr. Julie Ball. We ran to buoy 13 in the afternoon. We did not see any action or any good fish marks. Jorj had heard of the good black bite that they had up the coast several days prior so up the coast we ran. We set up for blacks on the seaside of the Eastern Shore. We caught sharks. Bob did manage to catch our one black drum of the night--a cute little fish of about 25-inches. In the morning, we ran down to the waters on the seaside of Fisherman's Island and trolled spoons for red drum. We snagged several skates. We also hooked up a couple of big reds. The hook pulled on one. Jorj boated a chunky fish that was a bit over 46 inches that we tagged and released. That was it for the reds. In the afternoon, we tried for black drum again. This time we anchored up near buoy 13. Capt. Richard Bartlett, (757) 876-5376, called and asked if we could catch some of the croakers that have been a pest to the drum fleet. He needed some for live baiting stripers. Well, we gave it a try, and of course the croakers are everywhere except when you are trying to catch them for bait. We did not catch any blacks. We did catch a half dozen croakers. What we really caught were sea mullet. There were plenty of them there. Robin Ball did not fish with us. I had expected him to. Julie said that he decided not to come. My suspicion is that he did not come because Julie wanted a means of escape. She was not real keen on being stuck on one of our multiple day trips so I think Robin was on standby to come out in there boat and rescue her when she was ready to go in. I could be wrong. Well, the weather turned out a lot nicer than we expected so she never called for the rescue. Robin did not fish with us but he did go fishing. He fished for togs at the CBBT tunnel and caught a bunch up to 7 pounds.
May 12, Dave Boyce, Chris Boyce, and Matt Rinck fished out of Hatteras with Capt. Rick Caton. Dave caught a mako shark on a live bluefish. Chris and Matt each caught a cobia sight casting bucktails to them. They caught a bunch of amberjacks up to 50 inches. They also caught vermillion snapper, tilefish, and scamp grouper.
May 12, John Hunt went fishing out of Hatteras. They boated 6 yellowfin tuna. They had a nice mako almost in gaff range when the mono leader finally parted. They also caught several amberjack and lost a big dolphin due to a broken snap swivel.
May 11 and 12, Don Crist fished out of Hatteras. They caught a couple of yellowfin, 2 wahoo and lost a third at the boat, several dolphin, 2 king mackerel, a skipjack, and a 98 pound mako shark that had a tag in it.
May 11, Bob Manus and his wife went to buoy 36A for some flounder fishing. They caught a nice limit of fish up to 22 inches. They then went over to buoy 13 to try for black drum. They caught a bunch of 14-16 inch croaker. They did see some blacks caught by the fleet.
May 11, Frank Kearney fished near 36A. They came home with 12 flounder up to 24 inches long.
May 11, Captain Steve Wray, (757) 481-7517, and Dr. Julie Ball ran up the Eastern Shore to check out a hot black drum bite that they had heard about. In the short time that they fished, Julie caught a 38-inch black and they saw a number of others caught.

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