Welcome to Salt Water Fly Fishing

Welcome to Fly Fishing The Salt! If you are just discovering the joys of fly fishing the salt (or salt chuck as some call it) here you will find information to steer you in the right direction. Tips on what equipment to use, why, where and how to fish. And we will try to include a little inspiration to get you going. For the experienced salt water angler, there will be personal stories about real fishermen and their experiences, tips on what flies for which fish and techniques that work. Your stories and articles are also most welcome. Share the knowledge and adventure. Pass it on! This is for you.

Sounds From Below

By Capt. Douglas Sinclair

Congratulation Doug - You Made It!

You could feel the drumming vibration. It came from the side of the gunnel. If you put your ear down there it sounded like a strong, but not to loud, base drumming. Shallow sounding baa-booms like someone lifting the mud up from the bottom and then letting it drop back down. The sound was really eerie. Baa-BOOM . . . Baa-BOOM . . . Baa-BOOM.

Imagine a crescendo of Baa-BOOM, Baa-BOOM resonating out in the lagoon. This meant one thing Black Drum were moving in a school, and moving our way. That's how they communicate. They look something like redfish although more stout and much bigger in proportion, and also more vocal. The sound was coming closer. We staked off the flats boat and waited. Moving now would spook the school. We were next to a drop off of about eight feet of water down near a canal that runs into the lower lagoon.

The pulsing noise had our hearts racing. It was 8 pm, an early summer's evening; the sun was just starting its decent. My crew had never had this experience and they were in for the one of their lives. Black drum are cool fish.

Some have been known to reach 146 pounds. The rod and reel record is one that was caught off Cape Charles, Virginia and a weight of 111 pounds. Black drum are related to redfish, but have a really hunched back appearance. It has a short, deep body (less than three times as long as it is deep to the caudal fin). Its back is high arched, and the mouth is low and horizontal in front with whiskers below, like a southern kingfish or whiting. The throat, like the redfish, has large plates that are used for crushing shellfish, or shrimp. They love crabs, big crabs. Six-inch grabs are nothing. The body has a deep silvery color with a brassy sheen, and the fins are blackish. There is no black spot on their tail like redfish, but they do tail. They are like vacuum cleaners, sucking in crabs.

Although a strike is slow, black drum put up a great fight. On a crab fly there is nothing better outside of a 20-pound jack that can equal the strength and brut force that a black drum can put on your line.

They were getting really close. I motioned Josh to get line on the deck and ready to make a short cast in front of the pod with time enough to let the Bay Crab sink down. Charlie got off his fly as well. Both were using a darker nickel sized, weighted crab imitations. As the pod got within sight of the boat they stopped. The front row stopped so fast they almost piled into each other. Josh was excited and he even looked a little nervous. This was a pod of about 40 to 50 fish and they were BIG. Even though it was overcast and cloudy you could still see this tidal wave coming at us.

They stopped and looked. They were motionless. We were motionless. The first two rows of drum were over the crab flies. Crab flies, when jerked, sink back down at an angle, like real crabs.

I whispered to Josh and Charlie, "Do a short, quick strip and then let the crab settle back down. Be as stealthy as possible." They did as I said, but nothing happened. There wasn't any movement at all everyone was frozen time went still. The sun was lower on the horizon now. And the sky was multiple shades of orange and red. It seemed like an eternity and then came a push along our starboard bow. I motioned for another quick strip, short retrieve and another strip.

All of a sudden Josh's rod almost came out of his hands. The tip bent down at high speed into the water, right up to the fourth snake guide. The drum had sucked in his fly. The 9wt DFR was bound for glory, and the fight had begun. Then as Charlie started reeling in, as is customary when someone has a "fish on," a drum spooled off about a 100 yards of backing from his 10wt DFR. This was going to be really interesting with two guys hooked up at the same time.

I pulled the push pole out of the staking position and put it back in the pole holders. The drum was peeling off line like they were running survey lines across the lagoon. This could be a tangle nightmare if the fish crossed. Josh and Charlie's first trip to the lagoon would be etched in their memories for a long, long time.

An hour later, these two drum had dragged us about 3 miles into the lower lagoon. I could see that both Josh and Charlie were wearing down. Things were pretty much under control. We got some strange looks from boats passing by. I bet it looked like we had a couple of sailfish hooked up.

I put the engine down a ways to increase drag on the boat and hopefully help to tire the fish. For 90 minutes we were at the mercy of these two brutes. They pulled us right into the Whales Tail (just south of Haulover Canal), but they were finally slowing down, and also running out of lagoon. They were headed for shallow water.

Black Drum

We finally managed to haul them over to the boat. Josh had a 38" drum and Charlie a 42" drum, fairly good size but not record breakers. We couldn't get Josh's fly out, it was deep in the fish's throat, so we broke off the line. Charlie's was barely hooked. The crab fly was hanging onto the upper lip. We took the fly out, took a picture and then released the fish. The monocore line held up well and I'm happy we were using 16-pound tippet with 30-pound Mirage Shock tippet. Both guys had a great story to take home and what they learned about our Black Drum, drumming. ~ Doug.

About Doug:
Capt. Doug Sinclair has relocated from New Smyrna Beach, Florida to Grantsboro, NC. He specializes in fly-fishing and light tackle charters. Doug charters the Coastal Carolina area of New Bern or Oriental. Catch him on the web at www.flyfishacademy.net or call him at (252) 745-3500. Doug is also a Sponsor here on FAOL.

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