- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Summertime fishing is still good, especially in the early morning hours and after sunset. Anglers are catching flounder, pompano, speckled trout, bluefish and black drum.
Black drum are a chunky, unappreciated species that can save a fishing trip. They are found most often around structures such as bridges, docks, jetties and piers. They rarely venture over sandy stretches of beaches and inlets, and because the overwhelming majority of their diet is made up of shellfish, they congregate around barnacle-encrusted pilings and over oyster beds.
The orientation to structures makes black drum easier to find than to catch in the summer, as their favorite spots are often also occupied by smaller pinfish, which will nibble your bait to pieces before a drum can hit it. Many anglers wait until after dark to target black drum because they are active at night and the pinfish bite is somewhat reduced.
Black drum will occasionally hit live minnows or cut fish but mainly they are caught on shellfish baits like shrimp, clams or chunks of blue crabs.
Although they are a strong fish, black drum often hit very light because they take the bait into their mouths and grind it with the teeth they have in their throats. They have a set of powerful teeth in their throat that grind up shellfish and they spit out the shell to get to the meat of their prey. Because they will spit out the hook if you wait too long, it is best to keep hold of your rod and keep a finger on your line feeling for a subtle black drum bite.
Most black drum fishing is done on the bottom, where they roam. You want your sinker to be strong enough to get to the bottom but move a little with the current. Sometimes, anglers who are fishing for speckled trout with live shrimp on float rigs at the bridges or jetties will catch black drum.
Black drum have no size or creel limits in this state, although anglers should throw back very small ones. The black drum that weigh a few pounds are a silvery fish that have bold black stripes on them. These fish are good to eat. As they get larger, black drum lose their stripes and become less tasty, so big ones are usually released as well. Black drum can actually get as large as 100 pounds.
Other than black drum, there are still speckled trout available in the morning, though the bite doesn’t last long after the hot sun takes over. Live shrimp is the go-to bait for summertime specks but they will also hit finger mullet and small pinfish as well as Gulp or similar scented soft baits. Big female trout following schools of mullet and pogies will strike MirrOlure plugs.
Bluefish are hitting best in the surf and on the piers at the edges of the day, as well. Blues will hit Gotcha plugs off the piers and cut bait in the surf. There is some scattered Spanish mackerel action.
Inshore, a lot of folks are fishing for flounder, with some days better than others. Live bait drifted or fished around structure will work, and don’t undervalue a small pinfish as flounder bait if that’s what you get in your cast net.
The piers have seen some occasional big flounder, as well as scattered blues and Spanish, pompano, whiting and a few spot. If you can dig some sand fleas, early morning pompano fishing in the surf or from the pier can produce a nice lunch or dinner.
Finally, there are a lot of sheepshead around right now, although most anglers remain unaware of them. Sheepshead are harder to catch than black drum but frequent the same places. Those who know how to fish for them have luck with fiddler crabs, chunks of barnacles or live shrimp.
The weather is hot but if you get up early enough or stay up late enough, you can get in some good fishing. Just don’t expect a lot to happen during the middle of the day, unless you like small sharks, skate and stingrays. Persistent anglers are finding fish, however, and a tasty black drum is not the worst thing to find on the end of your line.