Black Drum on a Fly

Local Fishing By Thomas R. Dempsey, M.D. CCI

Black drum,  a cousin of the red drum,  is not of the same kinship when it comes to fly fishing for these guys. They can be the most frustrating of all species when it comes to hitting a fly. Found in large numbers in the gulf waters,  the black drum can reach huge proportions,  feeding on crustaceans and other hard bodied shellfish. A fully grown black drum can consume 2 commercially-sized oysters for each kilogram he weighs; meaning an adult black drum can eat up to 40 oysters a day,  and it is easy to see how they can do some real damage to the oyster industry!

So,  how can we snag one on a fly? Tech,  some skill,  and some luck. Skill and technique requires you to “feed” the fish. This means you need to literally put the fly on his nose so he expends the minimal amount of energy to eat it. Usually you see them slowly coasting in a pod. Forget these guys – they are on a mission and seldom eat. Instead,  pick off the singles or better yet the ones with their head down and fan tail waving in the breeze. They seem to like muted colors,  greens and brown. Crab patters on 4/0 hooks with 30# tippet and at least an 8wt. rod. The fight is usually anti-climatic when compared to the size of these big boys,  often requiring you jump out of the boat and “walk-em down.”

The little ones,  4-8 pounds,  are good to eat if you have a chain saw to filet them. Let the big ones go. All in all,  a great challenge for the fly fisherman.