The black drum, a popular fish on the Big Bend, can be found in large schools west of St. Martins Keys, off Mangrove Point, and in Rocky Cove. They are found in deeper holes in rivers, using live shrimp and cracked blue crabs as bait. Catching big drum is difficult, so live shrimp and cracked blue crabs are recommended. A cold front is expected this weekend, so river fishing may be the only choice.
Puppy drum are a popular winter species for table and junior anglers due to their delicious, easy-to-catch, and tasty meat. They are found in bays, lagoons, and river mouths along the Gulf of Mexico and east Atlantic coastline. As they mature, they move to deeper waters for spawning, but are often wormy and not suitable for consumption beyond the mid-20 inch range.
Black drum, an inshore fish, is easier to catch during winter months in deep holes with hard shell bottoms. The legal minimum size is 14-24", but they are not as tasty as slot-sized fish. Large schools of black drum can be seen west and north of St. Martins Keys.
As winter's chill descends, the inshore waters beckon with the promise of a bountiful catch. The target? Not the usual suspects, but the often-overlooked black drum, specifically the smaller, delectable "puppy" drum. These little morsels, though not as grand in size, offer an excellent flavor and texture, making them a prized catch for those in the know.
The black drum, a bottom feeder like its cousins the redfish and sea trout, has a penchant for shrimp, fiddler crabs, and smaller blue crabs. This diet is what gives the black drum its unique flavor, a taste that is often underappreciated due to the smaller fillet yield. However, those who have tasted the succulent meat of the puppy drum know that size isn't everything.
When it comes to black drum fishing, the key is to know where and how to target them. The deeper holes and channels, especially those near the river's edge, are often teeming with these fish. The Homosassa River, with its spring-fed headwaters maintaining a constant 72 degrees, is a prime location. As the tides move, the warm water is pulled out of the river, creating warmer swirling water in these holes and channels, attracting quality bait and, in turn, the black drum.