On Tuesday, September 24, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) officially approved its own proposed emergency restrictions on the taking of striped bass in the Virginia portion of the Chesapeake Bay. By a vote of 7-1, the commission set a one fish per person bag limit and a 20-36-inch slot limit for striped bass, also known as rockfish. The season opened at 12:01 a.m. on October 4 and will run through December 31, 2019.
Lower Shore – Jeb Brady, of Bailey’s Tackle Shop in Cape Charles, reports that speckled trout fishing has been very good, with both sides of the peninsula producing some very nice fish. Anglers have enjoyed successful catch results by both casting artificials and soaking live baits. A few puppy drum have been mixed in with the trout. Gray trout and spot have been taken off the Cape Charles Pier.
Mark Snook, of Chris’s Bait & Tackle, said that flounder, spot, and croakers have been caught off Kiptopeke. Large red drum releases have come from the 9-Foot Shoals and Inner Middle Grounds areas. The shop had registered a couple of cobia release citations for anglers who made the long run to fish along the oceanfront off Sandbridge. Speckled trout fishing has been good in Plantation and Cherrystone Creeks, as well as off the beachfront, south of Kiptopeke. The waters around Mockhorn and Fisherman’s Island have produced catches of puppy drum, according to Mark.
Chincoteague – Donna Rae Roeske, from the Captain Bob’s Marina, reports that some “awesome”sized flounder have been caught in the canal in front of the Curtis Merritt Harbor, as well as from the nearby bulkhead. Several citation-sized fish have been landed, according to Roeske. A few speckled trout have come from the same area and near Chincoteague Point. Bloodworm baits, both live and artificial, have been successful on trout, said Roeske. Catches of puppy drum have come from the backwaters and in the surf on Assateague. A variety of species, mostly on the small side, are still being caught in the area from the town fishing pier south through the canal to buoy 11. Flounder and sharks have been taken in the waters off Memorial Park, with more sharks caught from buoy 10, out the inlet and south to the Wallops Inland surf. Rockfish are showing up, but they remain small. Most of the rockfish have been hanging around the bridge pilings, especially in Mosquito Creek. Surf fishermen have been catching a “smorgasbord” of species, according to Roeske, including drum, stripers, sharks, and rays as well as a variety of panfish.
Jimmy Vasiliou, of Captain Steve’s Bait & Tackle, said that the island is experiencing some of the best fishing of the year as anglers currently have an opportunity of catching late summer warm water species as well as the early cool water species arrivals. Vasiliou said that the speckled trout fishing has been the best it has been in years, especially north of the Assateague Bridge. The shop just received a new stock of popping corks and Z-Man plastic baits, including the popular “Shrimp Po Boy” and “Sexy Mullet” color patterns. Some small red drum have also been taken in the back bay area. The tasty puffer fish, known locally as the swelling or sugar toad, run is still occurring in the waters of the Assateague Channel. The shop weighed in a flounder weighing 7 pounds, 6 ounces that was caught on the south side of the island. The big doormat hit a large Berkley Gulp bait. Three big red drum were caught in the Assateague Surf over the weekend, the largest measured an impressive 47-inches. Other surf catches included bluefish to 28 inches, spot, and pompano. Vasiliou said that the shop maintains a good supply of fresh bait for the surf fisherman. Offshore boats have returned with a mixture of wahoo, mahi, and yellowfin tuna.
Upper Shore – Alan Ring, at the Sea Hawk Sports Center, reports that the speckled trout bite remains “really good” on the Chesapeake Bay. Anglers have enjoyed success using popping corks with Bass Assassins, as well as Gambler soft plastics. The trout have been caught over grass flats and around structure, according to Ring. The Maryland rockfish season is still under way with paddletails fished on jigheads and Rap 10s proving successful while fishing along structure. The stripers are also hitting top water baits early in the morning. A few red drum and cobia have been caught over the Middle Ground and around the American Mariner target ship off Smith Island. On the seaside, Ring said that there are still some flounder inside the inlets, when you can find clean water.
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
and is a Virginia Press Association award-winning sports columnist.