|Captain David Rogers: Mosquito Lagoon
The Mosquito Lagoon and Indian River Lagoon are producing good numbers of Black Drum. The water levels are super low and the fish can be found in large schools. Once you find them take you time and work the schools slow and easy. Live shrimp are the best bet on the Black Drum. They will eat a Gulp Shrimp on days they are really feeding.
The past year was the most phenomenal Black Drum bite I have witnessed in my 16 years of fishing the Mosquito Lagoon. We landed more Black Drum in the month of July than I had boated in the prior 15 years. My best guess is that we had a tremendous spawn in the last 5 years. The schools are still roaming the Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon in mega schools.
There are some days when the Black Drum is very easy to catch. The key is to move slowly and make a good presentation. I like to use a shrimp on a 1/8 ounce jig head hooked through the tail. When you cast, lead the school and dead stick the shrimp. Use a 15-20 pound fluorocarbon leader that is at least 3 feet in length. I prefer the longer leader to help hide the line. Remember these fish have a very light bite so using braided line will help you feel the bite. What do you do on the days when the fish are really spooky and running around? The best way to approach is using the push pole and moving really slow. Sometimes it is better to stake out and let them come to you. They move around much different than redfish. Their movements are much faster and more like a drunk driver. Redfish tend to move from spot to spot in a more direct line.
Another cool thing with the Black Drum is that you can hear them drumming in the water when they are around the boat. The sound can become very loud at times as they vibrate in the water. When they are fired up and feeding like crazy it will give you quite a rush. These fish are great fighters on light tackle. The bite has been solid this winter and you can catch 12-15 fish on a good day. They do seem to eat better on less windy days. During the summer months we averaged 17-20 fish per day with a few days of catching over 35. Just seeing the schools is amazing as they patrol the flats. Several times on a calm day you could look down the flat and see tailing fish as far as you could see. It looked like a driving range.
To get the most bang for your buck use a medium-light rod with a 20 series reel. You will enjoy a great fight without stressing the fish too much. The Karma Rids with a Quantum Cabo 20 is a great rig. Try a 15 pound fluorocarbon leader in the clear winter time water. The lighter line seems to produce a better bite.
Circle hooks also work well for the less experienced angler. Try a 2/0 Daiichi Circle hook and a small split shot or a bullet weight. The bullet weight will not catch as many weeds. Once the angler feels the bite they just need to reel and lift the rod tip. They should hook up with no problem. You can also rig a Gulp Shrimp hooked through the tail. Try the natural color. If the fish are eating well then try different colors. Sometimes a dead stinky shrimp works just as well, if not better than a live shrimp. Another good method is to bite the tail off a live shrimp to create extra scent. Chumming frozen shrimp can help if the fish are spooky.
What do you do when you catch a few? Eat them! They are excellent table fare. The limit is 5 per person with one over 24 inches. Remember only take what you need for a meal that day. You can freeze them if you like, but fresh is best.
How do you cook them? My favorite way is to grill them on the half shell. When you fillet the fish leave the skin. Rub the fish down in olive oil and coat with your favorite Cajun spice. Get the grill real hot and place them meat side down for about 3 minutes. The flip the fish on the skin side a cook until the skin curls up. The meat will slide right off and you will enjoy an awesome meal.
Frying is always an option, because just about any fish fried is good. Baking in some white wine and butter with Cajun spice ain't bad either. Enjoy them any way you like. They are great!
I hope that this is a permanent fixture for the Mosquito Lagoon and Indian River Lagoon. We have always had black drum, just never like this. We also have some monsters that you can get! I just prefer the smaller ones.
Capt. David Rogers
AAA Hawgwild Saltwater Charters LLC
674 Blenheim Loop
Winter Springs, Fl 32708
About the Captain: Captain David Rogers is a native Floridian who grew up fishing Florida waters. He has 30 plus years experience fishing Florida. The Captain has fished many lakes, rivers and several famous destinations such as Englewood, Boca Grande, Islamorada, Chokoloskee, the Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon. Captain David is on several pro staffs which include Rip Tide Saltwater Lures, Daiichi Hooks, Hell's Bay Boat Works and Mercury Marine. He also is a regular guest on the Florida Sportsman East Central Florida radio show with Captain Russ Rivers and Captain Jim Ross and has been featured in the Orlando Sentinel five times. Captain David guarantees all his clients will learn something and have great time fishing aboard his Hell's Bay Guide 18.