Giant Red Drum Under a Popping Cork: A Fish Story

Today we have a real fish story to tell. Check this out:

We were casually fishing along a 2-3 foot sandy shoreline in the lower Pamlico River area beating some stumpy banks and small marsh points for puppy and slot drum with our popping corks.  Like I do many days, I made a speckled trout prospecting cast straight offshore out in the deeper water along a 3-4 foot break where there were some small pods of tightly bunched, nervous acting 2-3 inch menhaden working up and down the ledge.  I hooked a nice trout on the first cast, so I decided to divert from our shoreline fishing and work out off the bank a little ways where I got the bite.  We caught another trout pretty quickly and then on the next cast, Jim’s cork went under and the drag started to go out at a slow light pace, but I knew it was something a little bigger……….maybe a trophy trout or an upper slot drum.  I looked down in the water and saw a decent sized ray swimming next to the boat, so I told Jim he had snagged a ray.  I was convinced it was a ray because the line was pulling off the spool at a slow, heavy pace.  Just then, the drag started screaming out and the fish went on a really fast run.  Keep in mind Jim was throwing a Shimano 3000 series reel spooled with 15# Power Pro on a TFO Signature Series 7′ Med. action spinning rod, which is a decently stout setup for our mixed bag fishing but still relatively light for big fish.  I still kinda figured it was a ray but I was starting to get a little suspicious since I’ve never seen a ray make such a fast run.  I kinda casually ramped up the speed on the trolling motor and turned toward the fish to chase it down. Before I knew it, I had the trolling motor on max speed and I could still hear the drag smoking.  My concern grew fast.  I looked closely up at Jim and started seeing the bare spool.  In a quick reaction to prevent Jim from getting spooled, I cranked up the big motor and gagged the boat toward the fish.  As I did this I could see Jim starting to get some line back.  Once we got about half of the line back on the spool, I jumped up there on the bow beside him and turned the drag lever about half a turn to put a little more heat on the fish.  Pretty soon, I could see the cork and a large copper figure about 2 feet under the surface.  It was the not the ray I though it was, and to all of our surprise, it was a trophy red drum.  The fish cooperated alongside the boat and I was able to trap his big old head in my small landing net.  I then carefully cradled the fish under the belly and eased him up onto Jim’s lap for a quick picture.  We released the fish healthy and hopefully we will encounter some more of these critters on light tackle as the summer progresses.  For interested parties later this summer, we will divert from our meat soaking routine and try to catch some of these fish on artificial baits.  I know it can be done with success and consistency………..talk about some world class fishing!  The fish are around much earlier and later than most people think and will pile on a cork rig with a quickness.  Congratulations to Jim for a true trophy catch while fishing artificial baits on light tackle.  Pretty cool stuff!  We caught some nice trout and puppy drum to top off a beautiful morning of fishing on the Pamlico.  Come get you some of that!

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