They are a hardly edible fish when adults, and rules donâ€™t allow most of these to be kept even if they were. Plus, they are neither handsome in hand nor acrobatic when hooked. And even their staunchest fans regularly (but with a sheepish smile) disparage them as â€śbig uglies,â€ť a reference to the fishâ€™s homely, hulking, hump-backed, dull-color body with a lower chin rimmed with wriggling, worm-like barbels.
But adult black drum are a welcomed and much anticipated blessing for Texas saltwater anglers who have suffered through the annual winter-caused torpor afflicting both coastal fish and fishers. Black drum – adult black drum – are among the first inshore sport fish to shake off winterâ€™s lethargy and go on a tear of activity that gives anglers opportunity to engage and enjoy one of the first major fishing â€śeventsâ€ť of the new year.
Texas anglersâ€™ attraction to black drum can be seen on any relatively calm day over the coming couple of months as bank fishers line places such as the Texas City Dike in Galveston Bay and clusters of angler-holding boats bob along the jetties from Sabine Pass to Port Isabel or are sprinkled along channels, around deep holes and adjacent flats on the lower reaches of bay systems from Sabine Lake to the Lower Laguna Madre.
Those anglers are there in hopes of connecting with what, for most, will be the largest inshore sport fish they will encounter over the fishing year – fish that can measure as much as 4 feet long and weigh as much as 80 pounds.
â€śBlack drum can get a lot of attention this time of year,â€ť said Mark Fisher, science director for the coastal fisheries division of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. â€śThe big ones – the adult fish – are what most people are focusing on, now, because of the spawn.â€ť
To read the rest of Shannon Tompkins’ column, click here.