Top tips for catching more black drum

Structure around marinas and docks offers protected, deeper water — standard winter habitat for black drum.

During the winter, black drum will live in places with structure and deep water, and what better place to find those requirements than the docks and marinas scattered across the lower Cape Fear region.

From Wrightsville Beach to Snow’s Cut, and then from Fort Fisher to Southport, the Intracoastal Waterway and nearby areas provide deep water and plenty of docks. Black drum are extremely abundant in winter. Just about any of these areas with between five and 10 feet of water provides a perfect environment for black drum and any bait that’s still inshore. On low tide, the barnacle-encrusted pilings and oyster beds will heat up from the sun’s rays. As the water creeps up on these warm surfaces, small crustaceans and fish are attracted. They’re followed by black drum, speckled trout, red drum, flounder and sheepshead during the winter months.

Often, some structures are better than others. Look for the ones covered in white bird droppings. Wading birds will congregate on the docks and structures holding the most bait. Their droppings will give them away.

Also, dozens of marinas have deep water. These structures provide an ideal arena for baitfish, black drum, and a few other wintertime residents. The channels entering and exiting the marinas, as well as the boat slips, are frequently dredged. This provides the deep-water requirement that benefits both boat owners and fish. Additionally, marinas block the wind. Water temperature in these places will often be a few degrees warmer, enough to get these fish congregated and in feeding mode.

Jeff Burleson
About Jeff Burleson 1358 Articles
Jeff Burleson is a native of Lumberton, N.C., who lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He graduated from N.C. State University with a degree in fisheries and wildlife sciences and is a certified biologist and professional forester for Southern Palmetto Environmental Consulting.