Speckled trout remain available from Saxis down to Fisherman’s Island, but the size and quantity of fish appears to increase as you travel south. Rockfish remain abundant in the bayside shallows, though the overwhelming majority are below Virginia’s 20-inch minimum size limit. A finger of warm water from the gulf stream pushed inshore within reach of the Virginia Beach offshore fleet, producing outstanding catches of wahoo, tuna and mahi. Lots of swordfish catches have also come from both the Virginia Beach fleet to our south and the Ocean City fleet to our north, but this fishery has generated very little interest or effort locally.
Upper Shore – Captain Matt Abell, of the Seahawk Sports Center had three charters this week, catching easy limits of rockfish on each trip while fishing on the Maryland portion of Tangier Sound. Captain Abell said that the stripers are still in their shallow water pattern, particularly around submerged structure and shorelines, he did run into one school of fish in open water under bird play. Anglers live-lining live spot off of Crisfield have been finding a little larger fish. Water temperatures have been fluctuating from the high 50’s to the low 60’s. A little further south, in Pocomoke Sound, speckled trout and a few puppy drum are being caught in the shallows, along with plenty of rockfish, mostly 19-inches in length and smaller. Matt said that one of his customers is still catching a few large red drum out of Occohannock Creek. On the seaside, Abell said that flounder fishing has been “slow, at best.” One customer had three keepers, plus a speckled trout and a puppy drum while fishing out of Wachapreague, while another landed and released a large red drum in the surf. Back sea bass fishing over the offshore wrecks has been good when boats could get out.
Chincoteague – Jimmy Vasilou, at Captain Steve’s Bait & Tackle told me the Blackfish Banks wrecks has started to produce tautog and black sea bass, as well as a couple of flounder. He said that a few flounder are still hanging around inside the inlet. Inside the bay, a variety of small fish are still active including puffers, spot, small black sea bass, lizardfish and an occasional sheepshead. A few speckled trout have been caught in the bay by Captain Bob’s Marina, but the north side of the island continues to produce the majority of the trout. Bluefish have been caught in the bay, as well as in the surf where slot-sized puppy drum have been pulled from the beach near the Coast Guard Station.
Wachapreague – Amanda Manzella, at the Wachapreague Inn reported that Captain Keith Neal with Teaser Sportfishing enjoyed productive back-to-back charters late last week. Last Thursday, Montana Large, Zack Thornton, and Frank Large recorded a late season blue marlin release and catches of dolphin (mahi) during the trolling portion of the charter, then the trio boated a nice catch of black-bellied rosefish, bluelined tilefish, golden tilefish, black sea bass, and hake while deep dropping. Then the following day, Keith guided Frank Large, Dalton Wood, and Bob Althauser on a deep dropping trip, producing streamer bass, black-bellied rosefish, blueline tilefish, hack, and black sea bass. The blueline tilefish season closed on November 1st.
Lower Shore – Mark Snook, at Chris’ Bait & Tackle reported that speckled trout and puppy drum action was occurring off Kiptopeke on the bayside and off Fisherman’s Island on the seaside. Mark said that he had not seen any catches of sheepshead lately but tautog were starting to show up along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and on the offshore wrecks, which are also holding black sea bass. Lots of small striped bass have been caught along the Cape Charles jetties, the largest that Snook had heard of measured 26-inches. Anglers are allowed one fish per person, with a slot limit of 20 to 36-inches in length through the end of the year in the Chesapeake Bay. The pier at the Kiptopeke State Park is producing a variety of small fish, especially sea mullet (whiting) and undersized black sea bass.
Jeb Brady of Bailey’s Bait & Tackle reported that speckled trout fishing is still “very good.” He said anglers are reporting limits of fish, mostly in the 18 to 22-inch size range. A few puppy drum have been caught along the shoreline on the lower bayside as well as off the Cape Charles Fishing pier. He has heard reports of black sea bass on the offshore wrecks. One group of anglers encountered some late season black drum while fishing over the Triangle wrecks.
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.