While sight-casting is certainly the most-thrilling means of targeting big red drum, it’s not always the most practical. Low-light conditions, high winds and occasional stained water can make putting eyes on a school nearly impossible.
It’s these factors that encourage Rom Whitaker IV of Sound Bound Charters to rely on soaking cut baits in fish funnels to get his anglers hooked up.
Near the inlets, between the shallow flats Whitaker chooses for sight-fishing, one finds a myriad of channels and sloughs that are scoured by the strong tidal movements. Here, big reds lie in wait for an easy meal to be pushed by.
“I’m constantly fishing an edge, where the tides going somewhere,” said Whitaker. “Those fish swim against the tide most of the time, so an ebb tide seems to be the time when I do better. The fish like somewhere that’s going to concentrate the bait and force them through an area. I usually fish the deeper sloughs from 6 to 20 feet.”
While anchored, Whitaker fan-casts a spread of four rods baited with chunks of mullet or menhaden, staggered at different lengths to avoid tangling. Each is weighted by 4 to 8 ounces of lead on a fish-finder rig with a 7/0 to 8/0 circle hook.