On a foggy morning I met Capts. Brad and Rick Kayholm at the Edgewater municipal boat ramps.
Our goal was to hunt the big black drum tackle busters that had been in the area. The tide was rolling in at a rapid rate and, when Brad dropped the trolling motor, we went with an ounce of lead on 40-pound test line. We baited with half of a mature blue crab on a stout hook.
This is big boy fishing. My usual 10-pound test rig would be useless here. Capt. Brad watched the big Hummingbird fish finder until he spotted what had to be several large black drum. With the boat situated so we could cast with the current toward the marks on the screen, we each put out a bait.
Knowing the big guys were right there made the anticipation unbearable. Sure enough, I had a hit and was on with a brawler. Somehow the hook pulled free from that big rubbery drum mouth, but I was not discouraged and went right back to it.
Soon I could feel something just crushing the crab on my line and when I set the hook I knew I was on with a whopper. The first feel of that power and weight was actually a bit scary and I knew I was in for a long fight with the outcome undetermined. Trying to subdue a beast like this with a spool of thread is a task that does not instill confidence.
I tried to make myself as comfortable as possible to wage the war I knew was coming. There I was putting as much strain on the rod as I dared as the big fish hugged the bottom in the 10-foot-deep water. For the first 20 minutes, I gained precious little line and could only hold on to let it run. Finally, the big fish showed the slightest bit of tiring and I gained some line.
Now you must remember that at this time I had no real idea what I was attached to. Was it a drum? A shark? A giant red? After a half hour we had our first look at the beautiful big black drum that was mostly silver in color. Unfortunately it saw us at the same time and took off once more.
Now it was using the current and was stripping line like mad. When I finally brought it to the net, I had to wonder how we would get it aboard. Brad is a big guy and he needed all his power to land the thing. Brad asked me to hold the fish for a picture and I was over matched. I leaned back and let it lay on my chest in order to get a pic until Rick stepped in to help.
At 46 inches and 62 pounds it was easily my all time largest black drum. The pictures don't tell the thickness of this big guy. What a monster! We all admired it looking into that gaping maw that could probably swallow a softball. We then released it with high fives all around.
We moved off to break out our light tackle and go after some smaller fish. I needed that for my arms and hands were cramping from the fight. The other decent catch of the day would be a big 43-inch red drum that Capt. Rick said was caught by Rodney (a rod holder.) That fish on any other day would have had bragging rights, but not this time.
Folks, this is world class fishing and it's right here. If you want to get in on it, give Capt. Brad a call at (386) 314-8553. After 60 years of drum fishing, I finally have my largest ever thanks to Wham Bam Charters.
Dan Smith has fished the waters of Volusia County for more than 40 years. Email questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. His book, “I Swear the Snook Drowned,” is available for purchase for $10.95 at (386) 441-7793.