"We had heard the big drum were pretty thick at Yaupon Reef and decided to make a trip out there and see for ourselves," said Mark Patterson of Brigadoon Guide Service. "They are at some of the other reefs off Brunswick County, too, but Yaupon is the closest, and when you don't have a motor that counts a lot. A few kayakers have caught them in the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers, but tackling drum of this size in the ocean on kayaks is a special treat."
Brigadoon Guide Service is a kayak-fishing operation. While based in Greensboro and usually pursuing freshwater species, Patterson (336-210-9861) spends two weeks at Oak Island each October to chase king mackerel when they move close to the beaches. This year, the big reds have been an unexpected, but not totally surprising addition.
"There have been some kings around, but we haven't connected with them yet this fall." Patterson said. "Fishermen on the piers are catching them, and so are fishermen at Yaupon and McGlammery Reefs, so it is just a matter of time until we find a school that is feeding. In the meantime, kayak fishermen are excited to have the opportunity to catch one of these big red drum."
Patterson said some boaters have been catching the big drum on live-bait king mackerel rigs as they slow-troll live menhaden around the reef. He said the flounder have been biting, too, and many flounder fishermen are also connecting with the big fish using 5- to 6-inch menhaden and mullet fished on Carolina rigs on the bottom.
Patterson said the rig he's been fishing is basically a heavy duty Carolina rig with a circle hook. He said perfect-sized have been running down the beach just beyond the breakers, and it's easy to catch a bunch before launching the kayaks.
Patterson said the mullet are also a good size to catch large Spanish mackerel, and kayak fishermen have had plenty of success doing just that. For Spanish, they're use a live-bait king mackerel scaled down to a size appropriate for the bait and fish.
"While we kayakers have to be very careful about the weather and can't go on some days when boaters can, we have had a run of excellent weather and could make the trip about every other or third day," Patterson said. "There are lots of public beach-access areas just in from Yaupon Reef and we just park, pull the kayak to the beach, catch bait and go. Yaupon Reef is about a mile-and-a-half off the beach, and the paddle takes about 30 minutes. We can troll and catch Spanish and maybe a king on the way out and back."