By Bill Hall –
The recent appearance of Spanish mackerel in the lower bay means that all of the expected summertime species have arrived into Virginia waters. Cobia fishing continues to heat up, even though the legal season to keep a fish doesn’t arrive until June 15.
Upper Shore – Captain Matt Abell, at the Sea Hawk Sports Center, reported the flounder fishing was “really, really good,” with the best action occurring in shallow water during the last of the flood and first of the falling tide. The first cobia of the season has been caught and released in the ocean off Chincoteague. On the beach, action has included red drum and kingfish (whiting), but the black drum action has slowed according to Abell. Red drum action has been good on the Chesapeake Bay side for anglers using bait. A 28-inch Spanish mackerel was caught while casting for speckled trout. Spadefish have taken up their summer residence around the target ship.
Chincoteague – Jimmy Vasiliou, at Captain Steve’s Bait and Tackle, told me anglers were still finding red drum, black drum, and oversized-rockfish in the surf. Kevin McWirt released a 46.5-inch red drum, while Rob Williams landed five large bluefish, a small black drum, and released a 42-inch red drum over the weekend in the Assateague surf. Speckled trout catches have come from the shallows near Captains Cove and in Watts Bay. Flounder catches have come from inside Chincoteague Bay. A 7-foot shark was caught and released in Chincoteague Bay. Vasiliou said black sea bass catches are coming from the offshore wrecks.
Wachapreague – Captain Lindsay Paul, at Trident Tackle, said the flounder fishing was excellent over the weekend, with lots of anglers finding limit catches. Captain Paul’s charters had limit catches on Friday and Saturday, while Captain Nat Atkinson guided his six-person charter to limit catches aboard the Foxy Lady. Paul said sea bass catches were still coming from the offshore wrecks when the weather permits.
Amanda Manzella, at the Wachapreague Inn, emphasized that “lots” of flounder were caught over the weekend with many fishermen catching their limits. The Wachapreague Shore Girls Flounder Tournament was held Friday and Saturday with Lisa Embry taking first place with a fish measuring 22.75-inches. Betsy Killmon finished second with a 21.125-inch fish, and Bobbie Humphrey’s 20.5-inch flounder was long enough for third place.
Lower Shore – Dez Louie, at Oceans East – Eastern Shore, described the cobia fishing as “excellent,” saying that the fish are being caught from the Virginia-North Carolina state line all the way up to the waters off Cape Charles. The 9-foot Shoal area along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel has been productive for anglers bottom fishing with bunker, while sight fishermen have enjoyed success casting bucktails and live eels.
Red drum fishing has been steady in the evenings in the shallow waters around Fisherman Island, while some large schools of red drum have shown up inside the third and fourth islands off the bridge-tunnel. Flounder catches have come from inside the Ditch and around the concrete ships. Spadefish numbers are increasing with the warming waters. Croaker and sand mullet (whiting) fishing has been good around the concrete ships and out of Oyster. Spanish mackerel have made their summertime debut in the lower bay and have joined bluefish and ribbonfish in attacking trolled Clark Spoons as well as Gotcha plugs and Kastmasters. Catches off the Kiptopeke Pier have included whiting, spot, croaker, flounder, ribbonfish, and gray trout.
Jeb Brady, at Baileys Bait & Tackle, commented the fishing continues to improve with the weather. Cobia have become one of the top targeted species even though the legal season to keep a fish does not start until June 15. Anglers are successfully catching and releasing the sporty gamefish, while bottom fishing and chumming with bunker as well as sight casting eels to fish cruising on the surface. The barrier island surf is still holding red drum. Flounder fishing continues to improve with the clearing water. The waters around the Fisherman Island Bridge and inside the Ditch are the two most-mentioned flounder catching locations. Sand mullet (whiting) catches are coming from the Cabbage Patch and around the concrete ships in front of Kiptopeke State Park. Small croakers, spot, and flounder catches have been made off the Cape Charles and Kiptopeke piers. The offshore wrecks continue to produce some large black sea bass and spadefish.
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.