By Bill Hall –
Spadefish and cobia have made their seasonal appearance in the lower Chesapeake Bay. Cobia, however, are illegal to possess until the legal season opens June 15. A recreational permit is also required for an angler to keep a cobia. The permits are free and available from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission website https://mrc.virginia.gov/
Upper Shore – Captain Alan Ring, at the Sea Hawk Sports Center, told me his flounder fishing customers were enjoying success on both minnows and silversides, while fishing out of Chincoteague, Gargathy, Metompkin, and Quinby. The key to successful catches was finding clear water during light winds. Ring said rockfish and speckled trout catches have been made in the Chesapeake Bay shallows, as well as over submerged structure. Most of the fish were caught by anglers casting lead jigheads with paddletails and crankbaits such as Rapala 10s. There have been a few red and black drum catches also coming from the bay’s shallow waters. Catfish and black perch catches have been made by anglers fishing with bloodworms on top and bottom rigs in the Pocomoke River.
Chincoteague – Jimmy Vasiliou, at Captain Steve’s Bait and Tackle, reported that sharks have arrived, much to the delight of the tourists. The shop was selling their custom shark rigs as fast as they could make them. There was a good run of black drum in the Assateague surf on Monday. Anglers using smaller hooks and baits enjoyed success with sea mullet (whiting), small croakers, and bluefish weighing up to 5 pounds. Some blues were caught by anglers casting artificial lures such as Z-Mans. In Chincoteague Bay, flounder and a few speckled trout have been caught. Kingfish (whiting) catches were made in the waters between the inlet and Memorial Park. Kaleigh Leager caught and released a 25-inch citation speckled trout in Chincoteague Bay.
Wahapreague – Captain Lindsay Paul, at Trident Tackle, commented that the flounder fishing out of Wachapreague has not been exceptional. He said he has not seen or heard of many flounder catches during the week. Captain Paul said some black drum catches were coming from the inlet. Black sea bass catches have come from over the offshore wrecks. The first boats ventured offshore in search of tuna on Memorial Day.
Amanda Manzella, at the Wachapreague Inn, described the recent fishing as “decent, once the winds subsided.” Manzella said anglers were finding flounder inside the inlet and black sea bass offshore. She reported Captain Tom Watts had flounder weighing up to 5 pounds.
Lower Shore – Jeb Brady, at Bailey’s Bait & Tackle, said anglers were targeting a variety of species over the Memorial Day weekend. Black drum action was encountered by anglers soaking clam and crab baits near buoy 13 and on Latimer Shoal. Large red drum were still being found outside the barrier island surf. Cobia have started entering the bay with anglers reporting catch and releases by bottom fishing with bunker and sight casting with eels.
Brady said the cobia fishing will improve with the warming water temperatures. The flounder bite has improved with catch reports coming from the Fisherman Island Bridge and inside the Ditch. Squid and Berkley Gulp were the top-producing flounder baits. Sand mullet (whiting) catches are coming from the concrete ships and in the waters off Cape Charles.
Dez Louie, at Oceans East – Eastern Shore, told me cobia have arrived in the lower bay and are hitting cut bunker baits fished rigged on fish finders on the bottom. Sight casters reported seeing lots of cobia on the surface and throwing live eels and bucktails to the cruising fish. The black drum bite has slowed and Louie believes they are starting to leave the bay after spawning. Nautilus Shoal and buoy 13 are two locations that still hold a few black drum. Red drum are still hitting crab and cut baits along the barrier island breakers and on the shoals along the bridge-tunnel. Spadefish have made their seasonal appearance and have started biting small clam baits. Flounder catches have come from inside the Ditch. Bottom fishing with Fish Bites, squid strips, and/or shrimp is producing whiting (sand mullet), spot, and croakers. Anglers casting Got-Cha plugs off the Kiptopeke Pier have caught gray trout and ribbonfish.
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.