Black drum can be identified by the vertical black bars on their sides. They are found from New England to the Gulf of Mexico. They have no teeth, but have some in their throat to crush oysters and barnacles they eat. Black drum reach maturity at 4 or 5 years of age and usually swim in schools. Their average weight is 20 to 40 pounds and they can live to be 30 years old. They prefer temperatures in the range of 53 degrees F to 85 degrees F. They like to eat crabs, oysters, mussels, and squid, and they are bottom feeders.
Where to catch them?
Black drum usually feed inshore at high tide and leave when low tide occurs. You can find them near jetties, bridge pilings, piers, boat docks, around oyster beds, bays, and marshes. They can be at sandy bottoms also. You can catch them from the surf, from an anchored boat or trolling. When fishing for black drum you might want to wait a few seconds before setting the hook as they mouth the bait. A lot of times when fishing the pier you can see them, and you can jig your bait in front of them. When you hook one they put up a fierce fight. I have had a few big ones break my line.
The best bait to use is squid, cut fish, clams, sand fleas, and shrimp. For lures use buck tails or jigs.
For fishing in a boat, use a 7 foot fast to extra fast rod with a reel filled with 30 to 45 pound test of mono-filament line. You can use the same rod and reel combination on the pier or jetty. If fishing on the beach, use a 8 to 9 foot fast to extra fast rod. At any rate, use a fish finder rig with the appropriate sinker for the surf conditions.
A fish finder rig is basically a sinker that is free moving along the line that is connected to the line by a swivel and then you have a bead then a snap swivel. Next is a black leader then the hook. The hook can be any size, but I prefer #2 circle hook. This hook is not that big, but not too small either. The weight holds the bait near the bottom and the crabs won't get your bait.
Some people use an already made chicken rig bought at a tackle shop. It is a fishing rig where you can attach two hooks and a weight at the bottom. The crabs love this kind of rig so I recommend putting small floats on the rig.
Another tip is to check your bait every 15 minutes if you don't get a strike. If you do find the fish, most strikes happen a few seconds after the bait hits the bottom. To find the fish, ask your local tackle shop where the fish are biting; most tackle shops will be happy to tell you. Also check for the size limits of the black drum in your area. I hope these tips are helpful and make your fishing trip more enjoyable.