By Bill Hall –
As of May 1, the minimum length for legal summer flounder in Virginia waters is 16 inches. The possession limit remains at four fish per person. Prior to May 1, the minimum length was set at 16.5 inches.
Upper Shore – Captain Matt Abell, at the Sea Hawk Sports Center, said the best seaside flounder bite has shifted to the shallows during the ebb tide. Pink teasers with Berkley Gulp and silversides have been the hot combination, according to Abell. Best action has occurred in the northern waters between Gargathy Inlet and Chincoteague. Recent catches in the surf have fallen off a little, according to Abell.
The Maryland trophy striped bass season has opened with most of the early stripers being caught on crab baits in the shallows. The movement of fish into the shallows corresponds with the appearance of the first local peeler crabs of the season. Scattered red drum catches have also come from the shallows and there has been a report of speckled trout catches coming from the shallow waters of Tangier Sound. The Pocomoke River has produced catches of crappie.
Chincoteague – Jimmy Vasiliou, at Captain Steve’s Bait and Tackle, reported that Paul Elias won the shop’s annual flounder tournament with a fish weighing 5 pounds, 6 ounces. Ricky Scearce finished in second place with a 5-pound, 4-ounce fish. Other anglers who placed were Mike Savage (5 pounds), Michael McMullen (5 pounds), Chuck Jacobs (4 pounds, 8 ounces), Dana Radanovic (4 pounds, 6 ounces), Cody Kline (4 pounds, 6 ounces), Brad Kymer (4 pounds, 6 ounces), and Robert Lynch (4 pounds, 6 ounces).
Wachapreague – Rick Hess’ 5-pound, 13-ounce flounder was big enough for first place in the 31st Annual Captain Zed’s Flounder Tournament. After leading at the end of the first weekend, Paul Elias finished in second place with his 5-pound, 9-ounce catch. Other top finishers were Bob Ford (5 pounds, 6 ounces), John Hartnett (5 pounds, 4 ounces), and James Joseph (5 pounds, 2 ounces). Asher Hines was the top youth angler with a 4-pound, 8-ounce catch. Bonne Cross was the top female angler (4 pounds) and Scott Hines had the top catch by a local angler at 5 pounds, 2 ounces.
Captain Lindsay Paul, at Trident Tackle, said that anglers drifting Berkley Gulp-live minnow combinations in Bullshead and Drawing Channels are catching flounder, with action temporarily slowing down during periods of cooler weather.
The Foxy Lady charters had flounder catches weighing up to 5 pounds, 4 ounces on Friday and 4 pounds, 6 ounces on Saturday. Black drum and striped bass were landed from the inlet and surf.
Amanda Manzella, at the Wachapreague Inn, said that the Inn was booked to capacity with flounder anglers, many returning from fishing with limits of 18-inch and larger fish. One of the guests finished in fourth place in the flounder tournament.
Lower Shore – Dez Louie, at Oceans East — Eastern Shore, said the drum fishing is “excellent!” He said there are schools of trophy red drum being spotted on the oceanside of the bridge-tunnel as well as off Fisherman Island. Anglers are having success by both bottom fishing with hard crab and peeler baits, as well as sight casting bucktails or live crabs just in front of the roving schools. Black drum are biting, especially during the flood tide out of Oyster and on Nautilus Shoal, off the high-rise section of the bridge tunnel. Sea clam and clam/crab “sandwiches” are both producing catches. Black drum fishermen near the bridge tunnel were also rewarded with trophy sheepshead bycatches, as the shop weighed in eight citation sheepshead over the weekend. Flounder fishing continues to improve inside the Ditch. Schools of small bluefish and stripers have started appearing in the waters of the lower bay. The Kiptopeke Park Pier has produced small flounder and hickory shad.
Jeb Brady, at Bailey’s Bait & Tackle in Cape Charles, reported that the drum fishing improved over the weekend with anglers fishing out of Oyster and behind Fisherman Island catching and releasing multiple numbers of black drum on sea clam baits. Red drum action was still occurring in the lower barrier island surf on crab baits. Brady said that sheepshead have been pretty abundant with anglers catching fish up to 10 pounds while drum fishing, as well as targeting sheepshead around the bridge-tunnel pilings with clam or crab baits. He described the lower shore flounder fishing as slow. Puppy drum and striped bass catches have come from some of the creek mouths on both the bay and seaside. Tautog fishing on the offshore wrecks has been good when the weather cooperates.
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.