Red drums and puppy drums are amongst the favorites of recreational and commercial fishermen. They are aggressive and hard to catch, so it takes quite a skill to hook them. This makes them a popular saltwater trophy game fish. Consider yourself lucky if you ever catch one!
If you want to learn the fundamentals of puppy drum and red drum fishing, we have you covered in the rest of this guide. Read on and know how you can do it like a pro! Prepare your fishing rods and plan a fishing trip soon to put into practice the theories we will share.
What is a Red Drum and Puppy Drum?
The red drum refers to a reddish and large fish with at least one black spot present at the end base of the tail. It is also known as redfish and channel bass. This game fish is the state fish of North Carolina. They are common in estuarine and coastal waters.
Usually, a red drum grows anywhere from 20 to 40 inches. They can even grow up to 60 inches and their weight can reach 30 pounds. The color of the body is bronze or reddish copper. Meanwhile, its belly and underside are purely white. It has a blunt nose and the chin does not have barrels.
On the other hand, puppy drums are the smaller or juvenile version of the red drum. They can reach up to 27 inches. They share the same physical characteristics as the red drum. The size is their main differentiating characteristic. Despite being smaller, however, as you will learn in this article, catching a puppy fish is equally challenging.
If you decide to go red drum and puppy drum fishing, it is also important to take note that they often swim in schools. This means that once you can catch a small one, it is most likely that the rest that you will catch for the day will be of the same size.
Know their Habitat
Like with catching bass fish and other species, success in the red drum and puppy drum fishing entails the need to be familiar with where they are located. If you do not know their habitat, you will end up waiting for nothing.
They tend to be frequent in shallow waters with an average depth of one to four feet. Because the water is shallow and they are big, it is easy to spot a part of their back as they swim. They are common in submerged vegetation or the edges of bodies of water. You can also see them in soft mud.
It is important to note, however, that their habitat changes depending on the stage of their development. For puppy drum fishing, it is best to check out shallow creeks and tidal destinations. When they start getting bigger, such as when they reach a length of 30 inches, they commonly move to larger water, such as the ocean.
To be specific, when you are planning a puppy drum and red drum fishing trip, some of the places that you might want to check out include grass beds, sand bars, oyster bars, inlets, estuaries, and bays. They are often in the bottom and not on the surface.
Even though puppy drums prefer shallow water, it won’t hurt if you go deeper, especially if you have a large boat capable of handling the depth of the water. If there is an oyster shoal or a shallow sandbar, it is also a great place to spot a puppy drum.
Choosing a Tackle
Now, let us go to the specifics of puppy drum and red drum fishing, starting with the selection of fishing tackle. Even with a simple fishing tackle, you can take home a fresh catch. The most important thing is for it to be strong enough to withstand the force of the redfish as it fights.
Different kinds of tackles can be used, and they have varying levels of effectiveness depending on where exactly you are fishing and the size of the fish that you intend to catch. An ultra-light tackle is enough if you are after puppy drums. On the other hand, for red drum fishing, you will need heavier and stronger tackles. Otherwise, the fish will easily overpower you.
If you are fishing inshore, you can scale down your choice of tackle since it is a location known for having smaller fish compared to what you will find offshore.
Your fishing rod and reel should not only match the fish that you would like to catch. It should also be suitable for you. This means that it should be comfortable to use. Otherwise, you can easily get fatigued and you won’t have the energy to spare to catch reds.
The type of fishing that you are doing will also dictate the right rod to use. For surf fishing, long rods that are heavy to medium in weight are the best options. On the other hand, if you are fishing from a boat, shorter rods with medium weight will suffice.
You will also benefit from using a baitcasting rod, which is designed specially to catch big trophy fish, such as a red drum. The learning curve can be quite steeper compared to a spinning rod, but with constant use, you can finally gain mastery and increase the chances of success. Take the time to read this baitcaster set-up guide for more information on how to use it properly for red drum fishing.
As for the reel that goes with the rod, a lot tends to go with a casting rod. Although, saltwater spinning reels will also be perfect.
Do not underestimate the importance of a high-quality line for red drum fishing. A-line with a 12 to 15-pound test will be ideal. However, to be sure, if you plan on catching bigger reds, you can go as high as 20 pounds. More so, many anglers prefer monofilament over fluorocarbon fishing lines.
Setting Up the Rig
The assembly of your rig is another important consideration when it comes to red drum and puppy drum fishing. At the end of the fishing line, it is recommended that you have a gliding sinker as against one in a fixed position.
You do not need to suffer from a complicated set-up when getting the rig ready. The freeline setup will suffice. All that you need is to attach a hook at the end of the fishing line. After this, you are ready to take a catch.
If you want to take things a notch, there are variations that you might want to execute. For instance, you can connect a triangular sinker at the end of your terminal tackle. Above it, you can setup up to two hooks.
Regardless of the rig that you will use, you have to check the rules from where you are fishing. There are instances where your rig might be illegal. Play by the rules at all times!
Right Baits and Lures
The baits and lures that you will use have a huge impact on your success. For puppy drum fishing, fresh and natural baits will be the best choices. Nonetheless, they also pretty much do well with soft plastics, including those that you also use as trout lures and ice fishing lures.
Since red drums are bigger, you will need to use larger lures and baits. Shrimps, small crabs, and mullets are also effective for red drum fishing. For fishing in shallow coastal areas, it is recommended that you use live shrimp and minnows. Top-water plugs, plastic tail jigs, and weedless spoons will be great if you prefer artificial compared to live baits. Make sure to have tackle boxes to keep everything organized!
As you choose baits for fishing, one important thing to consider is that it should match the forage. It should complement the location to attract the red drum and puppy drum.
You should also know the art of live bait trolling for successful red drum fishing. One of the most critical is the speed of your trolling, which should ideally be not more than one knot. A trolling motor will also be great when you are in shallow water. This is not as noisy and as disturbing as diesel or gas engines. For trolled baits, some of the best to use are shrimp and mullet.
A Productive Method to Fish
The most productive method for red drum fishing is bottom fishing. It is the most popular way of catching a fish nearest the seafloor, so you can never go wrong with this. Drifting and anchoring skills are important to do this the right way. It is one of the best ways to reel in catch if you are after large species.
As the name implies, the goal of bottom fishing is to take your lure or bait as near as possible to the bottom. It has a heavy lead sinker followed by your choice of bait and the hook. The puppy drum or red drum will bite the bait and will instantly feel the resistance of the weight, making it easy to hook it on its mouth.
You might also want to try float fishing. Under this fishing method, there is a float or a bobber connected to the fishing line. Because of the presence of a floating device, this makes it possible to have the bait suspended on the surface.
Surf Fishing for Reds
No, surf fishing does not mean that you need to be positioned on a surfboard to catch puppy drum and red drum. Instead, what this means is that you have to stand on the shoreline to catch a fish. This can be quite challenging when catching reds because they are big and will often not be near the shoreline.
One of the most important things is to have a long rod. The length should be generous enough to get the bait and lure straight to your catch. You also need to use heavy weights, which will prevent the lures from being pushed back to the shore. Pyramid sinkers are also necessary, which will have a good hold in the soft sand bottom.
Ideally, the length of the rod should be anywhere from 10 to 12 feet. For versatility, you will benefit from having telescoping fish rods that will allow you to make the necessary adjustments in its length. The reel should also be high-capacity to match the rod and your expected catch.
As you start fishing, scout the area and look for a specific place where you can expect the reds to flock. Troughs and cuts are where you should head. Look for quiet areas. Less disturbed areas are will make it more likely that you will have a fresh catch.
Time for a Feast
Now, make all your efforts worth it! After catching a puppy drum or red drum, it is time to have a sumptuous feast! For most people, they prefer eating puppy drums compared to red drums. The reason is simple – puppies are juvenile. This means that they are young, which makes their flesh soft but flavorful.
A Word of Warning
Before we end this post, we’ll leave you with an important warning – do not take more than what you need. Years ago, reds have been almost completely wiped out. They have been popular for their gastronomic appeal, which is why there has been a shortage in supply. Legislations have been in place for their protection.
Now, the population has been restored. However, as a responsible angler, do not overfish. Do something to make sure that their population remains intact.
Globo Surf Overview
Red drum and puppy drum fishing seem intimidating. The size of the catch and their aggressiveness can immediately make some people hesitant. Nonetheless, with our tips and suggestions in this post, this should not be extremely difficult for you. All that you need is to have the right gear and practice the right techniques!