By Bill Hall –
Angling action was as hot as a firecracker over the recent Independence Day weekend, with catches coming from the beaches to the offshore canyons. Cobia remain the number one target for anglers on the bayside, with flounder fishermen swarming the creeks, inlets, and inshore wrecks on the seaside.
Upper Shore – Alan Ring, at the Sea Hawk Sports Center, reported good flounder action from Chincoteague to Wachapreague “as long as you have clear water.” Berkley Gulps fished with silversides or minnows have been productive. Anglers fishing from the beach on the seaside have caught sharks, rays, and kingfish (whiting).
On the Chesapeake Bay side, anglers were catching cobia using cut bunker and live eels fished behind a chum bucket. Spanish mackerel have been hitting trolled Clark Spoons. In the shallows of Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds, anglers have been finding a few rockfish (striped bass) over submerged structure and an occasional puppy drum in the grass beds. Inside the creeks, rockfish have been hitting topwater lures, while black perch catches have come on bloodworm baits fished in the deeper holes.
Chincoteague – Jimmy Vasiliou, at Captain Steve’s Bait and Tackle, said some large red drum and sharks have been caught in the surf of Assateague Island. Surf fishermen who scale down their tackle are finding lots of kingfish (whiting) and spot while using surf ball rigs. Vasiliou said a flounder weighing 6 pounds, 8 ounces was caught off the town pier. Offshore deep-droppers returned with catches of black sea bass and tilefish, with a few yellowfin tuna picked up while trolling.
Wachapreague – Amanda Manzella, at the Wachapreague Inn, reported several guests recently limited out with flounder on the wrecks.
Captain Lindsay Paul told me the flounder bite has been good in the clear water. Most anglers were using Berkley Gulp/minnow combinations, with several parties catching their limits. Black sea bass catches have been coming from the offshore wrecks, while deep-droppers have been scoring with catches of tilefish and sea bass. Offshore trollers have been finding a few tuna and marlin.
Lower Shore – Jeb Brady, at Bailey’s Bait & Tackle, reported cobia action has been “real good” near buoy 36A and on Latimer Shoal. Bottom fishing with fresh cut bait and sight casting live eels have both been effective. A lot of the recent catches have been in the 40-to-45-inch class. Spadefishing around Plantation Light and around the fourth island of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel has improved with the warmer water temperatures. Flounder action was described as “decent” in the Ditch and along the bridge-tunnel pilings. The area in front of the concrete ships is producing sea mullet (whiting). Anglers fishing on the piers have been catching ribbonfish, small trout, and croakers.
Dez Louie, at Oceans East – Eastern Shore, described the current run of cobia as “excellent,” with good numbers of fish being caught while bottom fishing with cut bunker. Recent productive areas have included 9-foot shoal, and buoys 13, 16, and 36A. Sight casters have scored with both cobia and red drum in the shipping channel by the third and fourth islands of the bridge-tunnel. Spadefish catches have come from the bridge-tunnel and Plantation Light.
Louie reported lots of sheepshead weighing up to 15 pounds, as well as small black drum to 20 pounds have been landed along the concrete ships by anglers using bottom sweeper jigs baited with fiddler crabs, sand fleas, and cut blue crab. Anglers trolling with spoons between Cape Charles and the bridge-tunnel are catching Spanish mackerel and ribbonfish. The Kiptopeke Pier has produced catches of small sandbar sharks and lots of 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.