Cobia are still the most targeted species along the Chesapeake Bay side of the Eastern Shore with fish being caught from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay north to Maryland’s Tangier Sound. Flounder fishing remains steady on the seaside with anglers having to cull a lot of undersized fish to get their limits.
Upper Shore – Captain Matt Abell, at the Sea Hawk Sports Center, said the flounder are hitting both inside the inlet as well as over the inshore wrecks. He fished inside on Monday and Tuesday, with his clients catching limits on both days. There has been a major influx of small croakers on the seaside, where a variety of shark species are prowling the waters inside the inlet. The inshore wrecks are starting to produce flounder, triggerfish, spadefish, and ribbonfish.
Offshore fishing was described as being “only fair” with some tuna and mahi catches, according to Abell, with deep dropping for tilefish after a day of trolling, salvaging a lot of offshore trips. On the Chesapeake Bay, Abell said that his customers have been catching cobia from the Smith Island, Md., target ship south to the mouth of the bay by casting bright-colored jigs and bottom fishing with cut bunker. A “handful” of speckled trout have been caught in the shallows, but that fishery appears to be slowing down in the waters of southern Maryland.
Chincoteague – Jimmy Vasiliou, at Captain Steve’s Bait and Tackle, reported a variety of panfish, including small croakers, spot, pigfish, and perch, are being caught inside Chincoteague Bay. The bay is also supporting a healthy population of sharks. Larger sharks have been beached in the Assateague surf, as well as a red drum, which was caught after sunset. The shop has a supply of fresh bunker for cobia and shark baits. Over the railcars, larger flounder, triggerfish, and spadefish have been caught. Steve Shoemaker boated a 26.5-inch flounder. Mahi and a few tuna have been caught by blue water trollers. Black sea bass catches remain good over the offshore wrecks.
Wachapreague – Debbie Shrieves, at Trident Tackle, reported the shop weighed in a 5-pound, 8-ounce specked trout for Hayden Williams.
Amanda Manzella, at the Wachapreague Inn, said the flounder numbers are still good inside the inlet, while a red drum catch was made at the inlet.
Offshore anglers are catching blueline tilefish and black sea bass while deep-dropping. The vessel Final Verdict limited out on black sea bass and boated several tilefish on a recent trip.
Captain Lindsay Paul reported the flounder bite was decent in clear water. Paul added that sea bass fishing is good on the offshore wrecks and offshore fishing has produced a few tuna and white marlin.
Lower Shore – Jeb Brady, at Bailey’s Bait & Tackle, told me cobia remained the most sought after species over the last week, with anglers enjoying success with both bottom fishing with bunker baits and sight casting live eels. A mixture of keeper-sized fish and lots of undersized fish measuring 34 to 38 inches kept anglers busy. Flounder action was described as “pretty consistent.” The largest weighed in at the shop tipped the scales at 6 pounds, 3 ounces and was landed out of Cape Charles by Pat Perdergrast.
Brady mentioned the Ditch and along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel as productive flounder locations. Spadefish action continues to improve, with some larger fish coming from around the fourth island. Spadefish catches have started to come from the vicinity of the cell and plantation light. Bluefish and Spanish mackerel are hitting trolled spoons in the lower bay. Sand mullet (whiting) catches are coming from around the concrete ships and over the cabbage patch, while small gray trout and croaker have been the primary catches from the piers.
Dez Louie, at Oceans East – Eastern Shore, confirmed cobia action remains “very good.” Fish weighing up to 60 pounds have been caught chumming and bottom fishing over 9-foot shoal, buoy 16, and buoy 36. Sight casters targeting cobia that are cruising the surface are running into large schools of big red drum that are also receptive to their cast bucktails. Spadefish populations are good at the third and fourth islands, with fish also coming from the cell and plantation light. Sheepshead are being caught along the bridge-tunnel pilings and along the concrete ships on live fiddler crab and sand flea baits rigged on bottom sweeper jigs. Ribbonfish, bluefish, and Spanish mackerel are hitting trolled Clark Spoons and cast Got-Cha Plugs. Catches from the Kiptopeke Pier have included ribbonfish, croakers, and sand mullet (whiting).
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.