Catch your fish of a lifetime in the Pamlico Sound

Capt. Rod Thomas with Capt. Ponytail Guide Service shows off a bull red drum that he recently caught in Pamlico Sound.

Bull drum are biting live bait under popping corks

If you want to catch the fish of a lifetime, you just have to go where they are, when they are there. It’s as simple as that. And while a lot of anglers will continue to fish the water that is closest to their home, hoping that one day the big one will bite, other anglers broaden their range, and go where the big fish are, and when the big fish are there.

That’s the code that Capt. Rod Thomas, a/k/a Capt. Ponytail, not only preaches, but lives by. When you book a trip with Capt. Ponytail, your chances of catching the biggest fish of your life have never been higher. That’s because he doesn’t guide on one body of water, or even in one state. His goal is to put his clients on big fish, so he moves where the fish move.

“The number one step you can take to becoming a better angler is to go where the fish are, when they are there,” he said.

Like most anglers, Thomas spent much of his angling life content with getting familiar with one area, fishing it religiously, and being happy during the time of year when the fish showed up in bigger-than-average numbers and sizes. Then, he had a revelation.

“I was working for ESPN Outdoors, and when I would call around to book locations to film shows, the outfitters would ask what we wanted to catch, then it never failed. They would tell me a certain time of year, and tell me to call them within a week of a certain date. They were making sure big fish in big numbers would be there when we came. That’s when I started realizing that if you’re willing to go where the fish are, you’ll be a much better angler automatically,” said Thomas (336-240-5649).

So, where is the hot bite right now? This time of year, the bull drum are abundant in the Pamlico Sound, and for the past few weeks, he’s been putting his guests on big fish there, and lots of them. One of his clients boated a bull that measured over 52 inches in length, and catching them over 45 inches long is almost a daily occurrence.

Fishing with live bait under popping corks is the go-to method right now, and Thomas said the early morning topwater bite can be hot too.

The best times of day, said Thomas, are early in the morning and late in the evening. It’s not uncommon to hook these big fish throughout the day, even around noon, but those low-light conditions will give anglers their best chance at hooking up with their fish of a lifetime, and Thomas has a trip that will put anglers on the water at just the right times.

“A split day of drum fishing usually goes from 6 a.m. until noon, then picks back up at 3 p.m. after a long lunch. Then we go until 9 p.m., almost an hour after dark. Sunrise and sunset is feeding time for the big drum, so with a split day, you get the best of both bites with a meal and a nap in between,” Thomas said.

And once the hot bite turns off in the Pamlico Sound, Thomas moves to the next hotspot. He has some repeat clients that fish in all his hotspots from Weldon, N.C. to Georgetown, S.C. and everywhere in between.

Click here to book a trip to catch your fish of a lifetime.

About Brian Cope 2783 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at