By Bill Hall –
Cobia catches diminished slightly in number over the last week. Whether this is a temporary lull in the fishery or an indication that the fishery has peaked remains to be seen. Inshore flounder fishing continues to be good as long as the water clarity remains on the clear side, while flounder fishing on the wrecks continues to improve.
In offshore action, the Wachapreague charter vessel, Teaser, with Captain Keith Neal returned to port with a bigeye tuna measuring 74 inches and weighing 250 pounds!
Upper Shore – Captain Matt Abell, at the Sea Hawk Sports Center, said the Washington Canyon produced yellowfin tuna and an occasional bigeye for participants in last week’s Ocean City Tuna Tournament. Anglers fishing the offshore wrecks in 20 fathoms found limit catches of black seabass and even a few dolphin (mahi), while inshore wreck fishermen had success with flounder and ribbonfish. Inside flounder fishing was good with some of the best action occurring during the last of the flood tide into the first of the ebb. Cobia fishing was described as sporadic.
Chincoteague – Flounder fishing remains productive, both in Chincoteague Bay, Assateague Channel, and over the inshore ocean wrecks. Captain Steve’s Bait and Tackle recently weighed citation flounder for Bob Sparks (6 pounds, 2 ounces) and Travis Horton (6 pounds, 4 ounces). Both fish were caught on the ocean wrecks. A charter aboard the Ashley Jewel recently caught eight keeper-sized flounder as well as 10 larger bluefish. Red drum continue to be caught in the surf on Assateague, with the largest reported release measuring 48.5 inches. A 21-inch sheepshead was caught in the waters off the Tom’s Cove Campground. A variety of sharks are prowling the waters inside the inlet and the deeper holes in Chincoteague Bay.
Wachapreague – Amanda Manzella, at the Wachapreague Inn, reported that a 250-pound bigeye tuna was caught over the weekend aboard the Teaser. The trip also produced a pair of yellowfin tuna. She added the flounder fishing continues to be “great” and that there has been some drum catches in the barrier island surf.
Captain Lindsay Paul, at Trident Tackle, reported the inshore flounder bite continues to be “very good” during conditions of clear water, with lots of limits obtained. The members of the Foxy Lady’s charter on Tuesday all scored limit catches. Kingfish (whiting) have been a welcome bycatch of the flounder fishery. The inshore ocean wrecks are producing a larger class of flounder and some black sea bass. Offshore trollers are finding a few yellowfin tuna and an occasional bigeye tuna.
Lower Shore – Dez Louie, at Oceans East – Eastern Shore, said the cobia action slowed down over the weekend. Louie felt that fishing pressure at buoy 36A had caused a portion of the population to scatter, with some moving back towards the bridge-tunnel, and another group pushed north, farther up into the bay. Schools of large red drum linger around the third and fourth islands of the bridge, where they are being caught by bottom fishing and sight casting.
The same islands are holding schools of Atlantic spadefish. Sheepshead fishing was described as “excellent” around the bridge pilings and up off along the concrete ships. Spanish mackerel catches are being made throughout the lower bay by anglers trolling 0 and 00 size Clark Spoons behind #1 and #2-size planers. Recent catches off the Kiptopeke Pier have consisted mostly of ribbonfish and small croakers.
Jeb Brady, at Bailey’s Bait & Tackle, reported spadefishing around the fourth island of the bridge-tunnel continues to improve, both in size and in numbers of fish. Spadefish catches have also been reported from the Plantation Light and up at the Cell. The shop had weighed in sheepshead up to 11 pounds and 4 ounces, including several fish topping the 10-pound minimum citation-qualifying weight. Most of the sheepshead have been caught along the pilings of the bridge-tunnel. Brady told me when conditions are favorable, sight fishing for cobia has recently been out producing bottom fishing for larger cobia. Bottom fishing is still producing keeper-sized fish. Reports of Spanish mackerel catches have been coming in and he expects the fishing to improve as more anglers switch over to targeting the speedsters by trolling spoons. The southern bayside piers are producing small croakers, 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.