The Eastern Shore of Virginia fared well with the passing of Hurricane Dorian and except for the period when Dorian’s outer bands of wind and rain approached our coastline, the storm appears to have also left a minimal effect on the area’s fishing. Before the weekend was finished, red drum and cobia were back to being caught in the lower bay. Cobia numbers were increasing along the Virginia Beach oceanfront, a sign that the fall migration out of the Chesapeake Bay has begun.
The bayside speckled trout fishery also rebounded quickly following the storm with some anglers reporting an even larger class of fish. Small rockfish numbers also increased in the shallows of the upper part of the Chesapeake Bay. I do expect the summer’s excellent run of Spanish mackerel to follow along with the cobia’s gradual exit from the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. The large swells generated by the passing system did limit access to much of the ocean waters, but I expect that the good flounder fishing on the inshore wrecks as well as the blue water billfishing to be even better than before Dorian’s appearance.
Upper Shore – Captain Matt Abell, at the Sea Hawk Sports Center, reported that anglers were still finding red drum and a few cobia along the channel edge off Nassawadox Creek.
One group of anglers released four red drum out of six hookups as well as landing a couple of cobia early in the week. The speckled trout bite in the upper bay shallows was still in progress following the storm, with anglers fishing just above the Maryland/Virginia state line finding speckled trout, small rockfish, and puppy drum. Fishing on the inshore wrecks showed an improvement right before Dorian, but Matt had not heard of anybody fishing since the storm’s departure.
Chincoteague – Donna Rae Roeske, at Captain Bob’s Marina, reported catches of “nice-sized” croakers early in the week from the town pier by anglers using live and artificial bloodworm baits. Anglers targeting flounder from the pier managed to land a few keeper-sized fish. Ribbonfish and undersized black sea bass were the primary catches inside of Chincoteague
Channel following Dorian’s departure. Roeske commented that there was not a mass exodus of fish as often happens following a major late season weather incident. The only real immediate effect from the storm was the dirty water, which impacted flounder fishing success. High seas prevented any attempts to fish the structures on Blackfish Banks and beyond into the early part of the week.
Jimmy Vasiliou, at Captain Steve’s Bait & Tackle, reported that spot, kingfish/ whiting, and a few speckled trout have been caught in both the back bay and the surf. Surf fishermen, using cut mullet as bait, were also treated to a run of bluefish on Monday morning.
The pier at Tom’s Cove has produced a few keeper flounder since the storm. Sharks and rockfish have been caught around the structure at the Queen Sound Bridge, with rockfish also hitting artificials off the nearby marsh points. Leo Lagunas won the shop’s croaker tournament with a hardhead weighing 17.18 ounces!
Lower Shore – Jeb Brady, at Bailey’s Bait & Tackle, reported that Hurricane “played havoc” on fishing for the greater part of last week. Anglers were worried about the storm’s potential effects on the run of mid-sized speckled trout and undersized puppy drum.
However, it appears that their worry was for naught as anglers found limits of even larger trout in the bayside creeks beginning just a few tides after the storm’s departure. Brady said that the Cape Charles Pier had been seeing catches of spot and croakers.
Chris Snooks, at Chris’ Bait & Tackle, said that the speckled trout are biting “pretty good” and finding clean water is the key to catching them. A few red drum are still being caught in the evenings. Flounder fishing has been tough due to the water conditions created from the storm.
Ribbonfish are still being caught off the pier at the Kiptopeke State Park.
Snooks said she has received lots of comments and concerns from her customers regarding the impact of the new striped bass regulations.
State Record Swordfish – A 466-pound swordfish caught by Tony Gower Jr. aboard the Virginia Beach based charter boat Rebel with Captain Randy Butler has been certified as a new state record for the species.
Gower caught his fish while drifting a tinker mackerel along the Norfolk Canyon on August 16. The previous swordfish record weighed 446 pounds and was caught by Joseph T. Harris in 2012.
Bill Hall was the first Eastern Shore resident to achieve Virginia Salt Water Master Angler Status. He has been named Virginia Saltwater Angler of the Year and Virginia Saltwater Release Angler of the Year. Bill is an I.G.F.A. International Committee Representative and a longtime member of the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament Committee. He is the Virginia Recreation Fishing representative on the ASMFC Striped Bass Management Panel and is a past recipient of the CCAVA Virginia Outdoor Writer Conservation Leadership Award.