It’s an old story. The prodigal son and the good son. Wally and the Beaver. Marcia and Jan. Abel and Cain. Red drum get all the attention while the black sheep swims in obscurity. Few anglers appreciate the challenge and reward of learning how to catch them, but these redfish pros are big fans of the black drum.

Pro Tips for Catching Big Black Drum

kayak fishing for black drum fish
A small bite to eat. | Photo: Kevin Whitley

Kevin Whitley

Southeast Virginia

When Aqua-Bound and Kokatat pro Kevin Whitley takes a break from targeting the world’s largest red drum he turns his attention to targeting the world’s largest black drum.

“In the spring we fish the deep channel along Latimer Shoal and in the summer we turn to the rock islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel,” Whitley says. Each location requires a different tactic. At Latimer Shoal, Whitley anchors in deep water and fishes a whole chowder clam on an 8/0 circle hook attached to a fishfinder rig and eight-ounce pyramid sinker. “Cast out a couple baits and wait for a bite,” Whitley says.

To catch big black drum around the rock islands, he looks for dark shadows swimming just under the surface of the water. “Cast a two-ounce jig head and curly tail jig in front of the fish and hold on,” he says. Chesapeake Bay black drum often weigh over 50 pounds and grow to more than 50 inches long. “They can live more than 50 years,” Whitley adds. “I let them live longer.”

woman holds up large black drum caught while kayak fishing
Dee Kaminski knows big black drum lurk in the backwaters of Mosquito Lagoon. | Photo: Dee Kaminski

Dee Kaminski

Mosquito Lagoon, Florida

Mosquito Lagoon is probably one of the most famous red drum fisheries in the world, but Native Watercraft pro guide Dee Kaminski knows big black drum lurk in the backwaters.

“May through June, before the water gets too warm, is the best time to find black drum in the shallows,” she says. Kaminski uses a medium-heavy rod spooled with 15-pound braided line and an 18-inch fluorocarbon leader to cast an 1/8-ounce jig to big black drum. She looks for blacks tailing in the shallows or churning up mud on a steep drop off.

Kaminski swears, “Sometimes I can hear them drumming under the water.” She lands her lure in front of the school and waits for the fish to move in. When she feels a fish hit, Kaminski lets the drum swim off before setting the hook. “They like to chew on it for a little while,” she says. To further entice finicky black drum to the hook, Kaminski slathers her lure in Pro-Cure scent paste. “Black drum respond to a lure with a lot of stink,” she insists.

Photo: Dee Kaminski
Texas black drum congregate in channels, cutting between the Gulf of Mexico and back bays. | Feature photo: Chris Castro

Chris Castro

Corpus Christi, Texas

In early spring, big black drum gather to spawn and Chris Castro, host of the online fishing show Next Level Fishing TV, is ready to tackle giants. “Kayak anglers rally to flex their rods and see who can hold the biggest black drum,” he says. Castro has noticed black drum congregate in channels, cutting between the Gulf of Mexico and back bays.

The best time to catch black drum is when the schools are on the move. “A stiff breeze will get the fish trading along the channels,” Castro notes. It’s best to intercept them with a live crab or fresh shrimp. He uses a two-hook bottom rig with a four-ounce sinker on a medium-heavy rod spooled with 50-pound braided line. Cast the rig into a drum highway and wait for traffic to get heavy. With a big drum on the line, Castro lets the kayak do the work. “Dragging around angler and kayak eventually tires out these beasts, but that can take a while,” Castro says.

This article was first published in the Spring 2018 issue of Kayak Angler. Subscribe to Kayak Angler Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.

Texas black drum congregate in channels, cutting between the Gulf of Mexico and back bays. | Feature photo: Chris Castro



  1. Although it’s wonderful to catch those large drum, I could not help but notice that two of the four pictured kayak anglers were not wearing PFD. I have fished the Chesapeake Bay for 50 years and know how treacherous the water can be, especially with other boat traffic.
    Dress to swim folks!


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