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Cooler weather brings in different species

Cooler weather brings in different species Cooler weather brings in different species
By Jim Hammond

As winter approaches you start seeing more and more nor'easters and cooler temperatures. When the temperatures start to fall it is almost a changing of the guard. Warm weather species like Jack Crevalle, Ladyfish and Tarpon become fewer and fewer and species like Black Drum, Whiting and Sheepshead become more prevalent. With falling water temperatures the Trout start to school up around bridges, rock piles and deep drops. This is when you can have some fast action when you are able to find some of these schools.

Let's talk about a species that seems to be in full swing right now, Black Drum. It seems like this is one of the best years that we have seen in some time for Black Drum. These fish are very easy to catch when you can locate a school of them. We will start by trying to find the schools. I like to look for them at the jetties, deep drops around bridges, deep holes in the river channel and any creeks that have holes 25 feet or deeper.

To find these fish you will need a good "fish finder". I see so often people spend in upwards of $30,000 for a boat to fish inshore with and put a $99 fish finder on it. You have just spent a bunch of money on a boat and you purchased a $99 fish finder that is at best going to give you poor results when it comes to finding fish. I recently received a new "fish finder", sonar unit and so far it is without a doubt the best resolution of any unit I have ever had. The unit I am writing about is a Lowrance LCX 15 MT, one of Lowrance's newest units. This unit paints a picture that shows you every little bump, rock or fish that is under your boat. It also displays water temperature and has GPS and mapping capability. The unit is waterproof and comes with a nifty cover to protect it when not in use. It seems to work great on my open boat and I can see the display in the bright sunlight. One of the most important features for me is a unit that is waterproof because my boat is open and when it rains on the boat the electronics get wet. Another feature that I really like about the Lowrance LCX 15 MT is it shows me a killer picture of the bottom when my boat is running, up on a plane going from spot to spot or looking for deep drops or rock piles.

Now that you have taken your $99 unit and put it on your Jon boat and purchased a new Lowrance you are ready to look for some of these deep holes and rock piles. Start around bridges or sharp bends in the river. These are the most likely place to hold numbers of fish that are using the structure or holes a current breaks. When you have found what looks like a good spot, send down a rig with a piece of bait (shrimp, crab or Fish Bites) and see what is down there. If you hook up or get a nice bite, you might want to come back and send your anchor down to try to pull some fish off of this spot.

When you get ready to anchor, go forward of the spot and ease your anchor over, don't throw it. If you ease it over it will never get fowled and you will not scare the fish when it hits bottom. Now that your anchor is out and the boat is over the spot, it is time to start catching some of those hard fighting drum.

Here is another way to find these fish. Look for other boats catching them. Most of the time other fisherman will not mind if you anchor next to them as long as you DO NOT throw your anchor or run into their boat in the process.

I like to bring along at least two kinds of bait:

I never leave the dock without Fish Bites. This is an excellent bait for almost everything that swims and is a great backup bait. Say you are fishing and have one of those days that happens only a few times per year, where you have run out of bait by early morning. What do you then do, go back home, go get more bait or pull out your Fish Bites and keep on fishing. Fish bites now comes in several colors and two new flavors, crab and shrimp. The next bait that I usually bring with me for a day of drum fishing is shrimp and plenty of it. Usually drum hang out in areas that hold other fish such as TRs, croakers, grunts, toad fish and other little fish that will steal your bait before something nice has a chance to get it.

Here is a good drum rig: Take a piece of 20 to 30 pound test monofilament about three feet long, starting at one end grab the line and slide your fingers down toward the other end about eight inches. Fold the short piece toward the long piece. From this tag end tie two shoelace knots, one on top of the other. You should now have a loop that is tied off about seven inches from the loop. Do this again about eight inches from the first one, then do it again at the end of the monofilament. You should now have your monofilament that has a loop at the top, the middle and the end. The top loop will slide over a barrel swivel that is tied to the line on the reel, the middle loop will go through the eye on a hook and the end loop will go through the eye or hole on a bank or pyramid sinker. You now have a rig that you can make up the night before or quickly make on the boat that day. If you would like to have more than one hook on your rig, just tie more loops in the middle part of the leader. At the end of the day you can slide the weights and hooks back off of the leader and you will have only a piece of mono attached to the rod. Thus, no hooks or lead weights to get hung up on and no messy rigs to contend with.

My suggestions for the hooks are: If you are going to put out several rods and put them in rod holders, I suggest the Daichii Circle Wide D-82 in sizes 1/0 to 4/0. With this hook the fish hooks himself when he starts to move off with the bait. If you are going to hold the rod and like to set the hook my suggestion would be the Daichii Octopus Wide D-18 in sizes 1/0 to 4/0. If you have these two hooks in your tackle box, you should be pretty much covered for most types of fishing.

I would use a bait caster style reel on a 7 foot Ugly Stik rod and spool the reel with 50 pound test Power Pro. Braided Power Pro line in 50 pound test is only the thickness of 12 pound monofilament, therefore you get 1/4 the drag from the current flow on the line, therefore you can get away with using less weight to hold bottom then if you were using monofilament of the same test.

Once you get on them you can catch all that you want but you can keep only 5 per person. The size limits for black drum in Florida is a slot limit of 15 to 24 inches and one of your five can be over 24 inches. The large ones, 25 plus pounds are the breeders so put them back so they can make lots of little drum. The smaller ones are much better eating than the old tough ones.

Remember mom and dad, spend some time with your sons and daughters taking them fishing and you will not be looking for them come Friday and Saturday nights, as they will be home in bed waiting to go the next day.

Don't forget to check out my website for other information on fishing this area and charter info at

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Jo | Posted: July 30, 2003

good personal advice, Thanks.