Freshwater Drum

When we first started catching Drum, I couldn’t find much information on the species. I’m surprised that this fish doesn’t get more attention from fisherman. It’s very easy and fun to catch. Most of the information I have about Drum comes from biological studies sponsored by universities. Drum feed mostly on crustaceans and small fish and travel in large schools. There is some debate about whether or not Drum predate on Zebra Mussels. I think that they do. Every successful area also produced large snagged clumps of zebra mussels. On the clay flats we fished, there just wasn’t any other kind of forage or cover to attract schools of 20+ fish. That makes it important to practice catch and release with these fish. As bottom feeders, they probably wouldn’t be very good for you anyway. They have a long mating season lasting from early spring through June. Our best success came during the spawn. They’re easy to catch when the conditions are right. After the surface gets to 65 degrees, look for an area with a clay or mud shelf in 20-40 feet of water in front of an extended point or hollow in the shoreline. They will either be hugging the bottom or suspended 10-15 feet off the bottom. Since Drum do not construct nests and let fertilized eggs float on the current, it’s better to use your fishfinder to chart the contours of the bottom instead of focusing exclusively on schools of fish. If you find a likely flat and have some fish on the screen, you can anchor there. The school will move away after a few minutes, but they’ll be back. An active area will also have fish jumping occasionally.

We usually anchor in a spot and wait for the schools to come by. That gives us a chance to rest up between flurries of activity. These fish are real bruisers. They will tire you out quickly, especially on light tackle. The drum we caught averaged between 4 and 6 pounds. The smallest was 3.5 pounds, and the largest was 8.5 pounds. In NY, the cutoff for an angler merit award is 10 pounds and the state record is just over 25 pounds. I can’t wait to tangle with one of those.

2/5-1/2 oz spoons with wide bodies and #3/#4 inline spinners with large blades work best. Since you’re fishing in 30 feet of water, Gold and Fire Tiger patterns work very well. What you need is a medium to large aggravator lure. My go-to lure last year was a 2/5 oz Hammered brass Daredevil. Drum tend to strike at the front of the lure, so a stinger hook on the front will increase your hookups. I usually take the salmon hook that comes with the daredevil and move it up to the front hole (where you tie onto your line). then I attach a large treble hook to the bottom hole. Cast over the flat and let the lure sink to the bottom. If you’re near the dropoff above the flat, focus on that area. Slowly retrieve the lure, bouncing it along the bottom. Reel enough to pull the lure a few feet off the bottom. Make sure to pause the lure frequently during the retrieve. It’s like the boat docking axiom “If it feels like you’re doing it too slowly, you’re exactly right.” The hit will almost always come as the lure flutters back down to the bottom. It’s not hard to feel the strike. The hit feels like a series of short jitters. Set the hook firmly and you’re off to the races. You may want to double set the hook because Drum have very tough mouths. Expect numerous strong runs either down or away from the boat. The females are by far the stronger fighters. Males contract muscles around their air bladders when they’re in the boat, making a drumming noise (hence the name), so they’re entertaining, too. Make sure you have a strong Dacron net with a long handle. Hand landing Drum is very hard. They have relatively small mouths and very large bodies. Releasing Drum is fairly easy once you have them in the boat. After that huge fight, they seem to just give up. we never had any problems, even when we used barbed hooks. Bring along some spare trebles.

Longnose Gar

We caught gar completely by accident. We latched on to them for a couple trips, then they disappeared again. It always coincided with the Corps of Engineers dredging projects on the bay. Their not really good fighters, I don’t think they’d taste very good, and they’re hard to catch. They are pretty neat, though. They don’t look like anything else I’ve ever caught before or since. We were in 20 feet of water when we saw a bunch of fish rising around the boat. We cast out some undressed spinners and buzzed them back to the boat as fast as we could. Gar seem to like a really fast, silver lure right under the surface. A willow blade worked better than a Colorado or French. Gar have very bony mouths so you have to keep a lot of pressure on them or they’re get away. We never really got a good hookup.

Largemouth Bass

Coming Soon

Yellow Perch

Coming Soon

Northern Pike

We’ve had some success fishing for Pike in Irondiqiout Bay. For the most part, we’ve caught them while targeting other species. I don’t really like catching Pike. They almost invariably hit the lure so hard that they damage themselves, even with trimmed barbs. Most of the stains in the cockpit of my boat come from Pike. It doesn’t help that they turn into psychopaths the minute they get into the boat. If you get one into the boat, get a grip on it right away, Give a pike half an inch, and he’ll take half a thumb (well, almost ;-). The best part about fishing for Pike is the anticipation and tactics involved. The pike we catch are mostly in the 28-36” size, and that seems plenty big to me… anything bigger would be a near-death experience, I think.

Pike are solitary predators. They’ll defend their territory vigorously. They don’t seem to be against moving in on a neighbor’s spot, though. If you catch one from a clump of weeds, try the same spot after 10-15 minutes, there just might be another Pike there. The Pike we’ve caught seem to be moving into and out of weedy areas next to steep drop offs. From what we’ve seen, they like to ambush prey from the edges of weed beds, and feel safe in deeper water. Usually we concentrate on areas in 15-20 feet, just past the weed line. From there, we cast along the drop off with Large spoons and spinners. Pike are always looking for that next big score. #4 Mepps Aglia in fire tiger and gold are good producers for us. The spinners with squirrel tails seem to work better. Every little bit of bulk and motion helps. Don’t get upset if your fancy new lure gets mangled, though. Even a heavy wire lure like the Aglia can get twisted up like a paper clip when a pike latches on. A 2/5oz or 1/2oz daredevil with a 1/0 heavy treble hook might be a good way to go.

It’s important to let your lure sink right after it hits the water. Andy caught the first pike of the year when he cast an Aglia out, then put the rod down to get some chips. Let your lure drop as much as you can. Try varying your retrieve. Sometimes buzzing the lure works, sometimes a lift and drop presentation works. You’ll never know what’s working until you catch one,

2 Responses to “Fishing”

  1. went2fish Says:

    Over a year ago a friend of mine told me of a new musky fishing lure that I just had to get. The lure was a Squirko from Lungen lures. It looked to me like other jerk baits, but I decided to give it a try.
    On the first try on a Musky lake in Minnesota,I have to admit it didn’t see much water time. Later in the season I went on a fishing trip in Northern Manitoba. We tried the traditional spinner baits, silver minnows and Daredevils with success, but no trophies. We decided that the bigger northerns were deep. Most of what we had been throwing was not getting seen by the big ones.
    So I decided to switch gears and take out the Squirko. The lure is a jerk bait about ten inches long with a long twister tail on the end. It sinks about a half a foot a second. I decided to work it off some deep weedlines and let it sink. It didn’t take long after a few casts to hit “payday”. That afternoon I boated 6 Manitoba master angler northerns 41″ plus, with the largest being 44″. There were also numerous fish caught between 36 and 40″. My boat partner during this time was throwing “everything in his tackle box” to get down into the zone. He did get one 42″ northern but it was clear that the Squiko was a major difference. The combination of being in the fish zone plus appealing to the fishes instincts when the Squirko was jerked was the key.

  2. mepps Says:

    I never have gone pike fishing… the lure (pun intended) of catching a 40″ fish sounds rather appealing tho.

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