Monday, December 19, 2011

Drum Beat

For a while now, I've been searching for redfish or black drum, or really any fish that can be sight fished.  I look for subtle clues: a tail barely poking out of the water, a v-wake, a grass stem wiggling more than the rest.  I haven't been very successful.  Today was a very normal day on the water.  Not very successful.  Then, out of nowhere, BAM.  Gigantic tail.  Straight up in the air.  Just waving at me.  A tail the size of a tennis racquet.  Okay that might be a slight exaggeration, but it was huge.  Sometimes the clues aren't so subtle...  The big black drum's tail would appear for a second or two and then disappear for a minute.  Each time it would appear I would quickly maneuver my kayak within range and cast my Clouser minnow where I imagined that giant head to be.  Just one cast.  Then I would back away and wait for the tail to appear again.  I knew if I got too close it would spook and head off to deeper water.  This dance routine went on for about 10 minutes.  Then something different happened.  The tail popped up.  I cast.  I overshot.  I was slowly stripping the fly back in when the line went tight.  Ohmygosh I got'em!  I think I was more surprised than he was!

Shortly after hoookup

I immediately knew I was in for the long haul.  Last fall I watched my buddy, who was with me this time as well, land a 40 lb black drum on 12 lb test after about an hour.  But that wasn't from a kayak.  I quickly realized that fighting the fish from a kayak complicated things.  He was literally dragging me around the bayou!  When I made progress, it wasn't so much me reeling him in as it was reeling myself in.  Black drum are rather slow fighters.  Once he took me to about 3 wraps from my backing, but most of the battle was with about 20 ft of fly line out.  After about an hour and a half I realized I was in trouble.  The beast was tired; it was now just slowly swimming almost directly beneath the kayak.  Now what?  Try as I might I could not pull him up to the surface.  I was pulling against his weight so he didn't have to do much to resist it.  Having a 9 ft pole made things very awkward.  To make matters worse sunset was approaching.  I actually handed my buddy the rod and started trying to pull the leader up by hand, thinking if I could just get him up within sight I could reach down and grab him.  I tried this several times but each time I had to let go because he would swim a little bit and put too much tension in the line.  I really needed a beach to land him on.  Or heavier line.  I pulled on the leader one more time and felt a sickening feeling.  The line had broken off at the tippet knot after holding for two hours.

The only proof I've got...

In the end I would have released him anyway.  I got the thrill of the hunt, the take, and the fight.  I just missed out on the trophy shot.  It would've been by far the biggest fish of my life.  And it would've been sight fished from a kayak on the fly.  It doesn't get much more extreme.

Back at the launch, we saw something else that was pretty extreme.  You know you're in Mississippi when...

Yup thats a motorcycle towing a boat.

My reward for a tough day on the water:


  1. Aww, bummer about losing the drum. I lost my first big one with year too...though I was using conventional gear. I know what you mean about the tennis racket sized tails.

    I did get a short video of my failing at sight casting to one. You can check it out on my youtube channel. I ended up snatching it haha.

    And the motorcycle is a first for me. Better luck next time!

  2. What a day a fish that size and the new vehicle to tow a boat. I have seen it all now. Thanks for sharing