By Bill Hall –
The calendar may read May, but the recent winds have felt more like March and the showers have been more reminiscent of April, as the local fishing action was severely affected from the effects of last weekend’s slow moving nor’easter. Windy conditions impacted the area well into midweek. Production is expected to quickly bounce back as the weather stabilizes by this weekend.
Upper Shore – Captain Alan Ring, at the Sea Hawk Sports Center, said the flounder fishing along the seaside, from Quinby up to Chincoteague, was “pretty good” despite the recent east and northeast winds for anglers who find sheltered areas with clear water. Berkley Gulp, silversides, and live minnows have been productive flounder baits. On the bayside, speckled trout have started to show up, but not in huge numbers. Successful trout strategies have included casting jigheads with paddle tails or curly tail grubs. Ring said casting X-Raps and Mirrolures have also been productive on speckled trout and rockfish. Rockfish are currently out of season in Maryland waters and must be released. The Pocomoke River has been producing catches of crappie, yellow perch, and blue catfish. Small minnows fished on jigheads have been effective baits for crappie and perch.
Chincoteague – Jimmy Vasiliou, at Captain Steve’s Bait and Tackle, said the first big red drum of the season was caught “right before the blow,” as Rob Koonz caught and released a 40-incher. He said the black drum bite continues to be productive. Flounder fishing was described as good up until the winds dirtied up the water. Tautog have been caught off the town pier as well as around the pilings of the Queen Sound Bridge.
Wachapreague – Captain Lindsay Paul, at Trident Tackle, summed it up by saying the weather “was cold and blowing” in the early part of the week and the fishing was “terrible!” Paul said there was “not much activity at all.” He expected the fishing to return with more stable weather.
Amanda Manzella, at the Wachapreague Inn, confirmed that the early part of the week had been quiet, but she was hoping fishing improved with the weather.
Lower Shore – Dez Louie, at Oceans East –– Eastern Shore, said prior to recent winds, the black drum fishing had been excellent with lots of nice-sized fish being caught out of Oyster. Boats fishing on Nautilus Shoal were catching a mixture of black and red drum. Sea clam and peeler crab have been the top black drum baits. Louie said the flounder fishing has slowed because the winds have dirtied the water as well as having stirred up a lot of seaweed. Louie said determined anglers have still been able to pick up a few fish while drifting Gulp and live minnows. Tautog season closes this weekend. The recent winds and high seas have prevented anglers from being able to target the structure-holding fish along the pilings of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel or safely venture out to the offshore wrecks. Along the creeks, peeler crab baits have produced speckled trout and slot-sized puppy drum. Sand mullet (whiting) have made their seasonal appearance and are eagerly attacking shrimp and clam baits fished on bottom rigs with small hooks.
Jeb Brady, at Bailey’s Bait & Tackle in Cape Charles, said multiple catches of black drum in the inlet out of Oyster, as well as in the narrows were “pretty consistent” up until the front moved in on Saturday. Productive black drum action was also reported behind Fisherman Island. Most of the black drum catches have come on clam baits. Red drum catches are still being made in the surf line behind the lower barrier islands, with crab baits accounting for the majority of the catches. Sheepshead have been abundant around the pilings and submerged structure along the bridge-tunnel. Several sheepshead were caught as a bycatch of the lower Shore black drum fishery. Brady said the lower Shore flounder fishery remains on the slow side, as water temperatures have been slow to rise. He added that puppy drum and stripers are being caught along the lower bayside beaches and creeks.
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.