Also Called: Drum, Drummer
They might be called “black,” but Black Drum are mostly silvery-gray or dark gray with nearly black-tipped fins. These tasty fish are seasonal in the inshore waters of Hilton Head Island. They will also give you one of the best fights you will ever experience.
Black Drum are most abundant in Hilton Head from February to July. Adults tolerate a wide range of salinity (amount of salt in the water), making them less likely to be affected by rainfall.
With a mild, sweet flavor, Black Drum is a delicious fish often compared to red snapper in taste. They are most flavorful between 18 and 22 inches in length. The meat gets mushy as they grow larger than that, and they are more likely to be worm-ridden.
Look for adults throughout Hilton Head’s inshore waters. They like to feed along the oyster beds and around natural and manmade structures such as rocks, docks and bridges.
Shallow coastal bays
Bait: A hook baited with the Black Drum’s natural food supply - Shrimp, mussels, oysters, clams or small amounts of crab meat - is best.
Approach: The closer to the natural and artificial objects they congregate around (e.g. marsh grass, fallen trees, dock or bridge supports, etc.), the better. If your hook doesn’t get caught from time to time, you’re not close enough.
Tackle: A standard rod and reel with a weighted circle hook is best. You can catch them with a fly lure as well, though the precision casting required to draw Black Drum to the surface makes this method more challenging.
You can keep up to 5 Black Drum per person per day, no less than 14 inches in tail length and no more than 27 inches in tail length.