Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   



Miles and miles of Coastline, Year-Round Fun

If you crave saltwater action this year, come for the black drum on the Gulf Coast.

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 Chase Fountain | TPWD

Spring migrations deliver a wide variety of species to the Texas coast as the water warms. Jack crevalle, red and black drum, sharks and more whet our appetites for adventure. Summer months bring surf fishing to the forefront with opportunities to catch specks, red drum, flounder and other fish. Deep-sea action is at its height in hot weather. Fall’s a great time to target redfish.

Any time of the year, anywhere along the Texas Gulf Coast, there’s angling fun for every taste. What’s hot right now?

Last year’s big freeze wiped out one of the coast’s more popular catches, spotted seatrout, so it’s a good year to fish for another species and let those trout recover.

Try your luck on a fish that sounds like a band instrument: black drum.

A member of the croaker family of fish, black drum produce croaking or drumming sounds with their air bladder. Anglers can sometime hear sounds from schools passing near their boats.

Many fish enthusiasts maintain that small black drum (less than 5 pounds), cleaned and prepared properly, are tastier than more popular “eating” fish. Fish taken in cold weather before spawning are fatter and in better condition than those caught in summer after spawning. Larger drum usually have coarse flesh; anglers are encouraged to release them to spawn rather than eat them.

Small drum, less than a pound in weight, are sometimes called “butterfly” drum, while the largest ones (30 pounds and more) are called “bull” drum, although they can be either male or female.

Perhaps the most notable drum harvests are the annual runs of bull drum. In many deeper bays, around some jetties and in some channels, large drum gather in schools before spawning. February and March are the peak months. Many anglers are thrilled to have a chance at landing a 30- to 40-pound fish.

With a catch that size in your sights, be sure to use big gear, a stout line and a circle hook. Black drum are bottom feeders, so use a heavy weight to drag the ocean floor. Though they adore shrimp, particularly live ones, they also will sometimes go for other bait. You can sometimes locate them hanging around dock pilings. Best artificial lures are a 4-inch Gulf shrimp, a 1/8-ounce jig head or a 3- to 5-inch (Squiggly) paddle tail with a jig head.

The Texas record taken by a sport angler is 78 pounds.

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