Fishing & Boating News

The Running of the Bulls - "Texas Style"

by: Ed Snyder, Ed Snyder Outdoors

Photo by Ed Snyder
Photo by Ed Snyder
(Mar. 17, 2014 - Bolivar Peninsula, TX.)

It's not hard to spot the excitement of someone catching big fish at Rollover Pass, just watch for long handled nets following excited crowds of onlookers watching nervous anglers with bowed-over rods.

Oft-times, the big fish may be a large gator trout, doormat flounder, or an oversized red fish, but during the months of February/March at Rollover it'll more than likely be a HUGE 30 to 40 lb Black Drum. Bull Drum is the official angler classification, but that terminology can fool you as these greyish black or bronze colored brutes are actually of the female gender of the black drum species.

A BULL-Drum doesn't become an official "BULL" until "SHE" reaches 20 lbs or more, which puts it in a special fishing regulation status involving TP&W Dept restrictions. Texas fishing regulations allow for 5 drum kept daily within the 14 to 30 inch slot-limit, with NO drum over 30inhes is allowed to be kept! BUT!! A Bull Drum of 52inches IS allowed (Go Figure) But, I really don't see why an angler would want to keep a 52inch Behemoth, unless it was kept as a trophy, since a fish of that size really wouldn't be potable food fare on the dinner table. Besides, the best "keeper-eater" is a 20incher or less.

The 30inch maximum is mainly a conservation move to allow the larger female drum to reproduce. In years past, anglers would keep the drum of hefty sizes mainly to show off to their buddies. This braggin -rights attitude put the black drum in jeopardy as way too many were being discarded by anglers after those braggin rights faded with the photo ops.

Although drum are caught on a year round basis along the Texas coast, actual drum runs don't really occur until early spring when huge schools of these oversized drum begin migrating to the shallow bays and bayous from deeper waters of the Gulf.

Recently, good catches of these bull shouldered lunkers have been caught and landed at Rollover Pass, as well as along the Bolivar Peninsula beach-front surf. These monstrous, powerful fish provide plenty of excitement as they mangle rods, strip reels, and bruise angler ego's while freight-training their way through the pass on their way the bay.

Year after year have witnessed the sensational angling skills by both men and women anglers who've managed to land many of these 25 lb-PLUS drum with line as light as 8 lb test. But I strongly recommend stout casting rods, high-geared reels, and at least 25 lb test lines for catching these critters.

When my son was still young we would spend our early spring fishing for these huge fish that averaged 20lbs or so. It gave us a chance to shake off our winter cobwebs and check our gear as well as sharpen our fishing skills catching big fish.

Sinker weights must be heavy enough to limit tide-drags with hooks large and sharp enough to penetrate large bony jaws. Best baits can be anything from fresh cut mullet, cracked crab, live or dead shrimp, shad, squid, or cut mullet, with cut mullet being your best bait option.

The early spring drum run gives anglers of all genders and age groups a chance to fight a "toe to toe" battle with a really big fish. In past runs I've seen some Mega-Drum landed by anglers that pushed the scale past the 50 lb mark. These brutes are exactly that, BRUTES that will give you those braggin-right stories for your fishin buddy episodes, as well as the personal excitement of releasing that Behemoth to live and fight and another day.

With mugs that only a mom could appreciate, these borderline ugly Pisces the fish creatures becalm that ugliness via their fighting abilities. A good tussel from these roughnecks will definitely put a strain on, not only your angling skills, but on your landing skills as well.

If you're an avid light tackle angler then do your stuff, but if not, my recommendation is for medium to medium heavy rods with well geared reels spooled with at least 20 lb test line. Black Drum are strictly bottom feeders, so rig for bottom fishing. Best baits is dead or live shrimp, squid, cut mullet, or fresh cracked crab. When fishing always be sure your rig is tied down when not physically holding it, these brutes can take your rig water skittering in an instant. Last, but not least, set your drag system tight then after hooking your fish lighten the drag to fight the fish. And finally, when netting these fish net it headfirst, and when releasing it ease it in the water head first. These are a hardy breed and can survive if handled carefully.

One thing is for sure, after you've landed one of these incredible critters your sporting smile of pride enters you into an exclusive group of bull-drum anglers, especially when you release your catch to live and spawn another day, that exclusive membership will further enhance your angling status to that of elite-angler........"So please release those oversized drum for the future of our fishery".
Photo by Ed Snyder
Fishin pals Tracy Boyette of Vidor and Tommy Shivers of Jasper caught and released this HUGE 48inch-40lb drum he took on shrimp.
Photo by Ed Snyder