Capt. Mark Stacy of Ocean Isle Fishing Charters said much of the fishing in the creeks and marshes of lower Brunswick County has been unpredictable this summer, but the black drum bite has been freakishly consistent.
“I can recall summers we caught black drum pretty well, but the bite for the past few weeks has been exceptional," Stacy said. "Even better, it doesn't seem to be slowing down any. These fish are hungry and feeding, and that makes them easy to catch."
Stacy said black drum rarely hit lures but will occasionally grab a scented, soft-plastic lure. The sure-fire way to catch them is with a piece of fresh shrimp on a Carolina rig.
"The schools are mixed sizes, so you may be catching 14- to 20-inchers and suddenly hook one that might go 20 pounds," Stacy said. "You can handle them on puppy drum and flounder tackle, but when one of the big ones decides to take your bait, you're going to be busy for a while."
Stacy (910-279-0119) said the black drum are holding in deeper, cooler water. A popular spot has been the area around Tilghman’s Dock, where the Calabash River crosses the Intracoastal Waterway headed toward Little River inlet. He suggest using your depth finder to locate oyster rocks and other deeper water and fish around them.
Some black drum are also feeding along the jetties at Little River Inlet, around the bulkheads and pilings of the Ocean Isle and Sunset Beach bridges and under some of the docks along the waterway. Docks closer to deep water with lots of shade are good candidates for holding black drum.
Another spot Stacy suggests is the site of the old Sunset Beach Bridge. The old bridge, which was just a little south of the new bridge, was a great spot to catch black drum until it was removed after the new bridge was completed. There is still a hole in the waterway where the bulkheads and pilings once stood, and black drum hang out in the cooler water at the bottom of the hole.
"There won't be any question you are having a bite when a black drum hits," Stacy said. "They aren't bashful about feeding and they're strong too. Your first job will be keeping it away from tangling in the structure and then you can worry about getting it in."
Be careful fishing close to the South Carolina state line, because a South Carolina license is required, and black drum are managed with different creel limits and size minimums in North Carolina and South Carolina.