Best Places to Fish for Black Drum

Planning a black drum fishing trip? Read this guide on the best places to fish for black drum.

Best Places to Fish for Black Drum
Best Places to Fish for Black Drum
Team Guidesly

July 6, 2022, 4 min read

Updated on July 4, 2022

Best Places to Fish for Black Drum
Team Guidesly

July 6, 2022, 4 min read

Updated on July 4, 2022

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Black drum, often fondly referred to as big uglies, are a year-round drum fish species commonly found in the Atlantic region and the Gulf Coast. They are fun drum fish to target as they have a good fight and can come in huge sizes. However, they’re often caught as bycatch by anglers looking for the more popular sheepshead, redfish, speckled trout, or flounder.

Like red drum or redfish, their closest cousin, black drum can be excellent table fare, though they’re best consumed as small fish. Anything bigger than 30 inches and their flesh can turn tough and their scales harder to remove.

Black drum can be caught in saltwater and brackish water alike. Where there’s tidal movement and structure in the intercoastal and Gulf coast areas, anglers can expect black drum. They head toward the shore during February and March for their annual spawning season, but for the rest of the year, you can find them either in deep channels, dock pilings, bridges, and sandbar edges. They're not picky about their food but mostly go for crunchy bivalves and crustaceans like crab. While you can use artificial bait on them, stinky live bait works best.

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Planning a fishing trip to hunt for these big uglies? Look no further. Here’s a definitive guide to the best fishing places for black drum.

1. Florida

Black Drum caught off the Florida Coast

Florida is a bonafide fishing destination on the Atlantic coast, so it should be no surprise that it’s a black drum fishing hotspot. The Florida state record for black drum is a whopping 96 pounds. The trophy was caught north of Daytona Beach in Fernandina Beach. Black drum tend to run big here in the part of the US, particularly in the northeast of the Sunshine State, though you’re more likely to catch them in the 30- to 50-pound range in the regular season. They’re best targeted inshore fishing on bays and lagoons. 

2. Texas

Most black drum fishing enthusiasts will point to Texas as the drum fish’s favorite state. Black drum abound all over the state, but mostly in places with easy access to Gulf waters. These fish are not picky when it comes to their habitat. They can thrive in clear sand flats and muddy waters. You can also find them in the shallows and Gulf’s deep inlets and channels. 

If you’re keen on catching black drum alone, concentrate your cast on the lower coastal areas, from Corpus Christi to Brownsville. 

3. New Jersey

Black drum have recently started gravitating towards the Jersey side of Delaware Bay, heading to its shores in droves. New Jersey anglers hunt for these bottom feeders at night, particularly in hotspots such as Pin Top, Tussys Slough, and the Punk Grounds. Fishing here, though, requires some good planning. The wind here can get rough when it pushes against the tide and can make fishing conditions quite dangerous in a short period. The place can also get foggy, so expert anglers will bring a radar unit to guarantee a productive night fishing experience in the bay.

4. The Carolinas

South Carolina and North Carolina are two states to watch out for if you want to fish for black drum in winter. Big uglies run big in this part of the US as well. The biggest black drum caught on record in North Carolina is 100.1 pounds, while the biggest in South Carolina weighed 89 pounds. They’re best targeted around any structure on the Intracoastal Waterway, where the water at depth runs a little warmer. Don’t stay in one place fishing for black drum during the cold season. Black drum school at this time of the year and move from one structure to another in search of forage. Look for them in the docks, marinas, and bridges dotted with oysters. Because of the season, black drum will be unusually ravenous for lack of food, so they will be more than eager to bite your bait and fight. 

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5. Virginia

The biggest black drum caught in Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay is a huge 111-pounder. The peak season for black drum in this part of the US starts a little later, around April or May. Experts here usually target them at anchor, casting bait to the side and back of the boat while waiting for a bite. Other anglers will chum as they fish, smashing or dicing clams and either putting them in a net or flinging them to the side to attract the fish with the scent.

The best areas for anchoring in the state are those where there are steep or sudden drop-offs, such as the Inner Middle Grounds, Latimer Shoals, and Cabbage Patch. Other favored areas include the 36A Buoy and the islands around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. If you’re looking for puppy black drum for table fare, you’ll find them most commonly under Lesner Bridge, in the Lynnhaven River oyster bed, and the Rudee Inlet grasses right by the boat ramp at Owls Creek.

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