Drum Fishing Adventures
By … Kevin Blouch
It is the time of year for large Black Drum to return to the Delaware Bay for their annual mating ritual, so I will write a little about that.
If you never fished for them, it’s a different kind of fishing. Generally there is a lot of waiting trying to catch one of these giant fish. A small one of these units weighs 15 lbs, a big one can best 100 lbs. Along with the waiting for one is the constant battle with other bait stealing units. A large hook with a big whole surf clam is used for bait. The large Sharpitas are also here mating and they too like the clam baits, along with sea bats and smaller fish that would steal the clam but not the hook. This added action for the patrons, awaiting the elusive drum bite, but as a deck mate … it was a nightmare. Fresh surf clams are the primary bait. When fresh, they should have no odor, but quite often the baits were old and stinky. The more baits stolen, the more that needed to be shucked from shell, not the most pleasant of jobs when they smell rotten. Now the Sharpitas are thick at times too and the constant handling of writhing, thrashing 20 lb sharks takes it’s toll on the body. They are not happy to be pulled away from their mate and dragged into a boat. Also keep in mind, most Drum fishing is done at night. It is thought that light spooks these big beastly units, so deck lights are kept to a minimum, further complicating matters in dealing with the Sharpitas.
Okay, so when a Drum finally bites, the patron usually has been lulled into some catatonic like state, actually considering if such a fish exists. It is said Drum do not fight, that It is like reeling in dead weight. I don’t know where this misnomer came from as I have never seen this. A 15 lb fish is a battle, anything over 50 lbs is a war. I’ve seen it take over an hour to bring one to the boat. The boat is anchored when Drum fishing, when a Drum bites, it generally runs down tide, along the side of the boat of course. The unsuspecting angler is usually shocked, freezes, and doesn’t move with the fish. The result is tangled lines and usually a lost fish. So to sum it all up, Black Drum fishing is tough on a deck hand. Also, when caught, they must be handled, from netting to a cooler, then removed from the boat later, all at night. These are big, heavy, slimy fish. Anyway, I’ll write more about these big beastly units next time.