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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
If the question was asked when is the best time to go drum fishing, 95% of respondents would answer that the best time is the full moon towards the end of May. But, is that really true?

Let's look at the science behind the drum fishery. Black drum migrate into the Delaware Bay beginning in late April. The smaller fish are mostly the first to arrive, joined by the larger members as May wears on. Drum will stay in the bay well into the summer. Some also migrate along the coast to points further north in New Jersey. The Delaware Bay is one of the spawning spots for black drum. The species has found the bay to be a good spot for foraging opportunities as well as to spawn. Drum feed every day, regardless of the moon phase.

Icthyologists believe that most of the black drum spawning occurs around the period of full moons. Drum are serially spawners and spawn multiple times while they are in the bay. Almost without exception, fish don't feed while the spawning process is occuring. Drum are thought to mainly spawn as the sun sets, the process lasting maybe an hour or so. Fish congregate to spawn. Spawning in many species is thought to occur around periods of maximum current flow (like occurs around full and new moons) to best disperse the fertilized eggs and give the eggs the best chance of survival.

So, back to the theory that black drum fishing is best around the full moons. The positive effect of the full moon is that it causes the fish to congregate in large numbers to complete the spawning process. By congregating the fish, in theory, fishing would be better (if you are in the right spot) due to the concentration of fish present. Wait for the spawn to be completed, and the fishing should be great.

The negative side of the full moon period is that the current flows are particularly intense. High current flows are negative due to two things:
One, is that it makes our clam baits dance all over the bottom. This is not good for drum fishing as drum are used to feeding on the bivalve beds which are stationary baits. You can overcome this effect to some extent by fishing with short leaders (18 inches) and putting an egg sinker (1-2 ounces) on the leader.
Second is that the strong currents can cause the silt level in the bay to rise, particularly in the benthic (bottom) layers where the drum feed. Even though drum feed mostly by scent, few fish we target feed at their maximum in silty conditions.

Another negative effect of the full moon are the massive number of boats fishing on those days. Boat concentration is never a positive for fishing and fishing away from the crowd is usually more productive.

My own fishing experience has shown some very good days of fishing around full moon periods and I have seen days where the fishing was average or below average during those periods.
 

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Wealth of information

Capt Harv,

Great information... Alot of people give up on drum by the end May early June. Two years ago the boys and I will still catching them in early July.:D
 

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Great report Capt Harv...... If I ever need a ride to fish you would be first on my list. For sure..................
 

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i would like to add this little tid bit of info If i could , last year I was set up on a lump for the drum. We where not marking any fish, but we where catching fish. I called a buddy of mine in, and he came ran a 360 around me looking for marks and on his way he went, We caught several that afternoon, and he didn't catch any. My point is when drumming , be patient , If you think you have a good spot over say an oyster bed or something , wait it out , let them find you. i in no meens claim to know everything about drum , but I have had considerable success in the recent years. along with many others.
 

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Thanks again for some more great reading Capt Harv . :thumbsup: The shorter leader with additional lead is a great help.I took it one step further and just removed the top shell off the clam and left the clam attached to the bottom shell for additional weight. Try it !
 

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I have had more good trips than bad when it comes to drummin and on 85% of those good trips, I didn't mark anything on the initial setup. I would check the screen every once in a while and see marks but you gotta remember I think these fish are moving up and down the bay with the currents and not sitting in one tight spot. I think bottom structure is much more important than red blobs on the screen!
 

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I had to choose a date to go on a charter for drum fishing out of Lewes, De. The dates were may 14th ( day after new moon ) and may 28th ( the day after full moon and the friday before memorial weekend ). Both were evening trips. Which trips would you guys have chosen? Just curious.
 

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I had to choose a date to go on a charter for drum fishing out of Lewes, De. The dates were may 14th ( day after new moon ) and may 28th ( the day after full moon and the friday before memorial weekend ). Both were evening trips. Which trips would you guys have chosen? Just curious.
Dan...either of those dates should be good, but i personally would have shot for the 28th. That's just me though:D I have always done well on memorial day weekend.
 

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Never tried it on our own.....we have done it 2 times with Capt John on the unreel.....and honestly its too dam fun fishing with Him to bother bringing our boat down from sea isle.......great times, great Capt and He gets it done....so much so we booked him 2 times for this spring, Looking forward to banging on big fish, jokinjg around and having a blast reguardless of the outcome i know we will have a great time:thumbsup:...after all thats what its all about right fellas.....good luck to everyone this spring.
 

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I have had more good trips than bad when it comes to drummin and on 85% of those good trips, I didn't mark anything on the initial setup. I would check the screen every once in a while and see marks but you gotta remember I think these fish are moving up and down the bay with the currents and not sitting in one tight spot. I think bottom structure is much more important than red blobs on the screen!
this is a good point ,

many times you wont mark them until the tide is running the hardest ,these fish use the tide to move them along the bay, that big broom tail acts as a rudder,

i try to be setting up around the slack tides to ensure im getting atleast 1 full tide of fishing.

that being said, setting up right on top of the red blobs isn't the worst thing in the world either:)
 

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this is a good point ,

many times you wont mark them until the tide is running the hardest ,these fish use the tide to move them along the bay, that big broom tail acts as a rudder,

i try to be setting up around the slack tides to ensure im getting atleast 1 full tide of fishing.

that being said, setting up right on top of the red blobs isn't the worst thing in the world either:)
BIG REDDD BLOOOOOBS:thumbsup:

I understand that you want to be on good bottom, but if i'm in a location with good bottom and I don't mark any fish when I arrive, I move until I do and then set up. That being said, I may never mark another fish and catch all day/night, but I at least know that they are in the general area when I first get there. That's just how we do it.
 

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so if I was to go drum fishing the 1st weekend in May, i would not do so well?
Not saying that at all, you can do very well the first weekend in May if the water temps are right. Historically though these have been the smaller pups, under 30 pounds. I'm also not saying that you can't get the bigger ones then, but bigger ones usually show up in numbers around the second week in May, especially around the new or full moons. By the end of may, its usually in full swing:thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The purpose of this post was to provide some information on the good and bad effects of the full and new moon tides. I explain this in more detail in the upcoming May edition of the New Jersey Angler Magazine (www.njangler.com).

The science behind all of our fisheries is quite fascinating and learning as much as we can from each other is one of the benefits of the bass barn. We have had outstanding trips catching (and releasing) in excess of 20 drum on days inbetween moon phases. We have also had equally as good days fishing on the spring tides of the full and new moons. We have also had days when we caught very few fish on the full moon days in May and early June when one might assume the bite will be outstanding.

Factors such as silt level (particularly in the bottom 1/3 of the water column where the fish feed) can be an important component of the bite. Also, these fish are seen by bunker spotting boats migrating in massive schools up and down the bite. Some days the fish are just not in the area you are fishing.

For me, the best tactic is to fish in the area of these feeding stations. If I mark a school of fish, I might stop on a sandy or muddy bottom, and anchor and begin fishing. If the school is large enough, this will work. If the school was small and moving rather quickly, the fish might have moved by before you got anchored and set up. As with all fish, if you anchor where the bait is, those spots will usually turn on as the fish schools move from one feeding station to another.

Down in the mouth of the Chesapeake, where I used to fish twenty years ago, we always anchored on an area called the Cabbage Patch. Drum love to feed in algae areas (cabbage) due to the large population of food items they like to consume like crabs, worms, snails, razor clams, and the like.

My understanding is that many of the charter boats down there now idle along with their fish finders till they mark schools of drum and then drift through the schools with their baits (they tend to use crab for bait down there). In general drum prefer still baits, but we have caught drum many times drifting along, particularly when the tide is not running so strong. A number of years back we were fishing for fluke with squid strips and hooked up three very large drum at the same time. Drifting technique requires that you fish in areas away from the anchored fleet.
 
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