Bullbuster In Action:

The Redfish & Black Drum Are Heating Things Up

Author: Patrick Meek

The water temp's have been cool, but the Redfish and Black Drum bite have heated up off the beach over the past month in the Northern Panhandle.

We struck out to the beach on a cold Wednesday with a north wind blowing on our backs and set 5 surf rods out to catch something. The water temperature has been averaging around 65-64 degrees and we've been still waiting patiently for the Pompano to start their run. In the meantime, we've been taking advantage of the hard pulling Redfish and Black Drum that's been cruising our beach. 

Black Drum From The Surf

After a couple hours without any action, all of a sudden my 12' surf rod that I had cast over the first sandbar bends over! After a fun battle, I managed to land a fat 36" Black Drum.

Two days later, my wife and I met our friend Jack on the sand to try our luck again. We pulled up and Jack had just caught a slot Black Drum and was getting ready to put it on ice. After we got our surf rods set up and got our baits out in different depth locations, it wasn't long before I started filling my cooler with slot Black Drum in the 21"-23" range. 

Black Drum From The Surf

"Soon after the Black Drum, the Redfish moved in and we were able to take full advantage of the opportunity."

The surf conditions were just right with gin clear water, 2'-3' waves, and a 15-18 mph NNE wind. I kept casting my 12' surf rods just over the first sandbar. I was able to do this with ease using 30 lb  Bullbuster braid. My bait of choice was fresh dead peeled shrimp using a two drop Pompano Leader with 2/0 Eagle Claw circle hooks held with a 4 oz pyramid sinker. Soon after the the Black Drum, the Redfish moved in and we were able to take full advantage of the opportunity. We were going home with fresh seafood for the grill!

Redfish From The Surf

One of the last bites of the day happened on my wife's 10'6" surf rod. What looked to be a Pompano bite turned into something rarer. She managed to reel in a juvenile Permit. Permit are very rare in the Northern Panhandle of Florida, but each winter they seem to be showing up on more occasions.

Juvenile Permit From The Surf

The next morning, I set out by myself to the beach to take advantage of the great surf conditions while they lasted. I was fishing 5 surf rods by myself and before I could get the 4th rod baited and out, my short 9' rod that I use for short cast gets slammed! I have my new Van Staal VR50 with 20 lb Bullbuster braid paired with a 9' Star Paraflex and the fight is on. After about a 10 minute fight and a few steps down the beach, I successfully landed a nice 37" Black Drum!

Black Drum From The Surf

" I kept telling my friends I had a feeling the Redfish were going to show up at any minute."

My friends John H. and John F. came out and met me on the beach and I managed to land 2 more slot size Black Drum for the ice chest. A few hours passed as we were fishing the incoming tide, the bite had turned off like a switch. I kept telling my friends I had a feeling the Redfish were going to show up at any minute. Well....minutes went by and still no Redfish. John H. had to pack up and leave and I kept staying positive that the Red's were going to show up. I kept telling John F. "any minute now", and sure enough the next thing we knew I had a bite on my 12' Barrett surf rod that I had cast over the first sandbar. After a little game of "tug of war" I managed to land a nice 31" Redfish. After a couple of pictures and a quick measurement, I safely released it back into the surf.

Redfish While Surf Fishing

The next week, my wife Heather and I met my friend John H. and his wife Christi and their 4 year old daughter Trinity back on the beach. It was a fairly warm day for February, but it was very overcast and slightly foggy. We got set up and started playing the "waiting game." After a few hours, the temperature was starting to fall and my wife was starting to feel under the weather from a full weekend of exhaustion. All of a sudden, her surf rod doubles over and stays over! Whatever was on the other end was peeling the 30 lb Bullbuster braid off the Van Staal 150 SXP. Heather wasn't feeling up to reeling in whatever was on the other end, so I took control and grabbed her surf rod. After I got it to the edge of the surf, we saw that all the excitement was over a large Southern Stingray. John gaffed the stingray and stuck it in the cooler for shark bait to be used at a later date.

"I knew John and Christi's daughter was ready to see a fish as big as her and I had a good feeling this was the one."

It wasn't too much longer, as I was walking back to my rods from my truck, I saw my 12' surf rod stating to double over. I grabbed the rod and just let the fish run. It had been such a nonproductive day, and I knew John and Christi's daughter was ready to see a fish as big as her and I had a good feeling this was the one. I got on my knees in the sand with rod in hand and let Trinity help reel this sea monster in. Trinity did an awesome job of reeling while I was doing the pulling. When it was all said and done, Trinity with a little help landed a nice Black Drum well in the 33"-35" range!

Black Drum From The Surf

It was great being back on the beach with favorable surf conditions unlike the previous month. Pretty soon the spring Pompano run will be in full force and you can bet we'll be ready.

Until next time...

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