black drum

One thing that never changes much is seasonal patterns. New year, new moon, new anything, most fish and animals in general will stick to their same patterns noted throughout the years. However, sometimes it may be off by a warming trend, a cooling trend or small variables which set these patterns off by days or even a few weeks. This year is no different and the flats are getting loaded up with big black drum and even some bull redfish!

All throughout the east coast our winter fishery turns from less snook and tarpon to more redfish and black drum. The mild climate compared to most regions will draw all of the above but flats fishing for these fish is unlike many other places. If you’re looking for big fish in shallow water, now is the time! Anglers can find many schools of black drum on the edge of flats from 1-3 feet of water. Look for them around edges of sandbars, shallower islands and any really shallow spot that has deeper water nearby.

Unfortunately, winter means lots of wind and makes fishing the flats hard. On these days you can find similar schools of fish around our residential docks and bridges. These fish feed on the exact same crustaceans and provide one heck of a fight in tight quarters. The older the dock, pilings or bridge, the better, typically; and as far as baits, nothing can beat a half blue crab, large jumbo shrimp dead or alive, or snails (crown of thorns). These baits all work well from sight-fishing flats to working the bridge pilings.

As far as tackle, I prefer a 4000-5000 size setup for the flats with a 7-6 medium heavy rod loaded with 15-20 pound braided line. This allows me to use larger baits and still cast a mile and really gets the job done. When I’m fishing around heavy structures, going up to a 6000 or even an 8000 with 30/40 pound braid definitely makes things easier to turn those fish. In either scenario, I prefer a 40/50lb leader and with a proper knot such as the FG or Alberto, so you can apply as much pressure as necessary.

I look forward to the new year and the great trips to come and encourage everyone to get out and enjoy this amazing fishery!