Catching old drum on the Outer Banks

Big red drum are plentiful, hungry

October’s weather can have Outer Banks anglers in shorts and bare feet one day, then a hoodie and waders the next. But the red drum bite is much more consistent. And if you had to put a thermometer on the bite, it would be on the hot side.

Travis Kemp of Foolproof Fishing (252-435-5967) said right now is time to hit the beaches for one of the best old drum bites of the year. Cape Point in Buxton is an area that’s flooded with big drum throughout October.

You may be surprised to see dozens of other anglers, even on a weekday here this month, but it’s a big area, with plenty of room for anglers to fish without getting too close and tangling lines.

This isn’t the place or time to bring your Zebco 33 and Ugly Stik. Rods between 10 and 13 feet long are the norm here. Spinning reels in the 5500 to 8500 sizes are common, and many anglers opt for conventional reels in appropriate sizes.

The method of fishing is pretty simple. Kemp makes a cast, then walks the beach to keep up with his line, which the current pushes down the beach. As long as each angler  follows this step, they won’t have to worry about tangling with other lines. It can look a bit like a choreographed line dance when viewed from a distance, with anglers pausing only when they get a strike and begin fighting their fish.

Day or night

Kemp uses cut chunks of bait and fishes with a bottom rig. This rig consists of hooks that range up to size 8/0 to 10/0. A pyramid sinker tied to a barrel swivel, with the line running through the swivel’s top ring allows the weight to slide freely. This lets the redfish pick up the bait and run with it without feeling the weight of the sinker.

The Owen Lupton rig, which uses a very short leader instead of the free-sliding sinker, is popular with some anglers here, especially in the sound, but others complain that it is too easily buried, along with the bait, in the surf. A basic fish-finder rig is the norm here.

The size of the sinker Kemp uses all depends on how forceful the surf is on any given day. Six ounces is generally used, even in calm conditions. But on especially rough days, heavier sinkers may be required. Anglers don’t need their bait to stay in one place with the sinker firmly anchored. The current is going to have its way with your line, which is where the walking method comes into play. But you do need to slow it down as much as possible so you can detect a bite.

Early morning and late afternoon usually produce the best bites from bigger drum this month. But Kemp said anglers willing to burn the midnight oil can also find plenty of success. Fishing at night is very productive, and anglers can catch the biggest fish of their lives, sometimes multiple times, in a night of fishing here in October and November.

Anglers who experience a lull during mid-day can find plenty of action from a variety of sharks. The same cut chunks of bait that red drum eat will work fine, but anglers looking for Jaws should opt for heavy leaders and bigger hooks.

About Brian Cope 2800 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

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