Department of Plans and Statistics, Fisheries Management Division
Poor weather has really dampened the fishing over the past week. The good news is that the dreariness is supposed to be moving out soon, so next week should be a great week for fishing! Despite the weather, several anglers were not afraid to get wet last week and landed some nice catches of red and black drum throughout the area. There were also reports of croaker, spot, speckled trout, and a few keeper flounder.
The Black Drum World Championship Fishing Tournament is scheduled for next weekend, May 16-17, in Cape Charles with the Captain’s Meeting on Friday, May 15. The VMRC Biological Sampling Team will once again be there to collect biological information from each black drum weighed in, and we’ll post that information in the Saltwater Review later this year. For more information about the tournament go to: http://www.esvachamber.org/festivals/drumfish/
Please remember that the tautog fishery is closed May 1 through June 24. Also note that the Virginia striped bass trophy season opened May 1 and extends through May 15 in the coastal area and June 15 in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Anglers may keep one fish of 32 inches or greater during the trophy season, provided they turn in a catch report (available through the Virginia Saltwater Journal - https://www.vasaltwaterjournal.com/). Have a great week of fishing!
Please note: the Virginia Saltwater Review is only available online. Please feel free to print and distribute to your club or organization as needed.
Donna, at Captain Bob’s, says that the poor weather has really hurt the fishing over the past week in Chincoteague. Only a few flounder were reported from waters near the duck blinds near Captain Bob’s. Overall, deeper water is producing better flounder. The holes of Cockle Creek and the structures in Queen’s Sound seem to be producing the best fish.
At the Wachapreague Marina, keeper flounder are still averaging 1 in 10. There were black drum off of Cedar Island this week, but little offshore activity.
Staff at Captain Zed’s report that fishing has been good in Wachapreague. Black drum have been doing well in the Wachapreague Inlet and on the east end of Dawson’s Shoals. Flounder fishing has been doing really well, and a lot of fish have been caught at Bull’s Head and at Buoys 132 to 137 on the outgoing tide, with some keepers. Seal Creek near Swash Bay between Day markers 142 and 147 and Drawing and Green Channels are still productive. Near the Coast Guard Station and southward, anglers have caught numerous flounder. Another hot spot is the Hummock area, on the incoming tide, drifting across Burton’s Bay. Staff hasn’t heard of any grey trout catches, but they are expecting them any time soon.
Black drum have been popping up around the area, according to staff at Chris’ Bait and Tackle. A few have been spotted out of Oyster, and a few more were caught at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Some nice red drum were landed off of the beaches of Smith Island. At Morley’s Wharf, in Exmore, a few croaker were caught last week. There were also reports of flounder catches around Cape Charles.
At the Sunset Boating Center, poor weekend weather kept most of the anglers on shore. Staff is looking forward to the better weather for the upcoming weekend.
The weather also cut down on fishing at Salt Ponds Marina where staff expects fishing to pick up this weekend.
Staff at the York River Fishing Center reported catches of croaker, speckled trout, and flounder at the Gloucester Point Pier. A 5-pound, 5-ounce speckled trout earned one angler, working in the Ware River, a citation last week.
Dr. Julie Ball, IGFA International Representative for Virginia Beach, contributed the following:
With a steady parade of evening thunderstorms this week, the spring Mid-Atlantic fishing scene has taken a slight detour from the usual trend. The biggest interest is still in the emerging drum scene, which is motivating many anglers to gather peelers and crabs, and head for the Eastern Shore shoals between the thunder storms.
Red drum are providing some decent action among the breakers and sloughs near Smith and Fisherman’s Islands, especially at night. The best action is still among the breakers, where kayak anglers are taking advantage of this trend right now.
According to Chris at Chris’ Bait and Tackle, smallish black drum ranging to about 35 pounds are becoming more active along the Eastern Shore seaside inlets, the surf, and near buoys 13 and 16 on the bayside. The larger fish are still coming from the Quinby areas further north. This trend will also continue to heat up over the next few weeks, and larger fish will become more common.
With the recent muddy water and excess fresh water from the abundant rain, the flounder scene is still slow within bay waters and around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. The best numbers of keeper fish are coming from the Eastern Shore seaside inlets and back waters of Oyster. A few keeper flatfish are also coming from within both Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets.
Healthy puppy drum ranging up to 33 inches are still hitting inside Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets, where anglers are also finding bluefish up to around five pounds and scattered speckled trout. Specks are also available within the Eastern Shore seaside inlets and the back waters of Oyster. Peeler crabs, live bait, and Mirrolures are a good choice for the specks right now.
Many are taking advantage of the Bay’s Spring Trophy Striped Bass season. Striped bass are providing a good alternative for those looking for some solid action right now. Anglers working top water lures along the rocks at the islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel are content with steady hits from fish exceeding the 32-inch minimum size requirement. Storm Lures cast around the pilings are also working well. Reports of school-sized fish are coming from around the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, and larger fish are hitting cut bunker near the mouths of the lower bay rivers.
Tautog are still lurking on lower bay and inshore structures, but these fish are only available for catch and release until late June.
The lower bay rivers are still holding the larger croaker, while the Little Creek jetties and Ocean View are hosting medium-sized hardheads, which are hitting squid. The folks at the Ocean View Fishing Pier report that the best croaker action is still at night. Nice-sized spot also debuted this week off the pier. Sea mullet ranging to near a pound are still providing some variety, where blood worms are working best for both spot and sea mullet.
The black sea bass are beginning to migrate closer to shore, where the Triangle Wrecks will provide good numbers right now. Remember that sea bass must now stretch to 12.5 inches to keep them. Blueline tilefish, grouper, and other deep water species are still available in water over 50 fathoms when the weather allows boats to reach them.
Roger, of Jett’s Marina reports that the croaker are still biting in the shallow waters of the creeks and rivers. Baits of choice for these fish are squid or shrimp. Striped bass are also being caught, in spite of the large amounts of rain.
Dan, of Smith’s Point Marina, continue to see large striped bass being caught by those not afraid to get wet with 20- to 30-pound fish keeping those wet anglers happy. Numerous croaker have been caught in the area as well.
According to staff at the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, those fishing in Rudee inlet last week were doing really well with speckled trout and puppy drum. Taylor bluefish were also available with a few undersized flounder sightings. Inshore, flounder, red drum, black drum and a few shark were all to be had. Offshore, black sea bass, grouper, and blueline tilefish were caught, and anglers are still seeing nice catches of bluefin tuna between 45 and 60 miles offshore.
At the Ocean View Fishing Pier, anglers caught croaker, spot, and undersized flounder last week. One angler was able to catch a single keeper flounder.
A little of everything was biting at the Lynnhaven Pier last week. During their first open week of the year, poor weather kept a lot of anglers home, but staff expects next week to be better.
Spot, sea mullet, and a few small catch and release striped bass were found at the Virginia Beach Pier. There was even a rumor of a Spanish mackerel sighting.
At the Little Island Fishing Pier at Sandbridge, sea mullet, croaker, and skate were biting last week.
Offshore fishing out of Oregon Inlet continues to have consistent, but slow action on several species. Yellow and blackfin tuna, dolphin, wahoo, amberjack, tilefish, and grouper were biting for those working further offshore. Mid-range angling was slower with king mackerel, tilefish and black sea bass. Speckled sea trout could be found in holes just off the beaches.
Pier and shore fishermen had a lot of diversity in their catches. Some of the notable catches included speckled trout, bluefish, sea mullet, puffer, and spot.
Inshore, anglers were having the best luck with speckled trout. These fish were biting around the Melvin Daniels Bridge and the Washington Baum Bridge, primarily in the early morning hours.
South of Oregon Inlet, all of the fish seem to be big. Reports of large drum, pompano and cobia were headlining the news. The bluefish and pompano were being caught around Ramp 43 and 55 with a few drum around the point. Scattered sea mullet, puffer, black drum, and flounder were also found.
Offshore fishing out of Hatteras Inlet has been producing good numbers of gaffer-sized dolphin lately. Catches of blackfin tuna have also been good with wahoo and king mackerel in the mix. Inshore fishing near Hatteras has been producing large bluefish.
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