Cobia, Spanish mackerel and sheepshead, while not available in big numbers just yet, have been caught by Virginia anglers - sure signs that summer fishing action is coming soon. There were reports of cobia to 50 inches caught last week. The Eastern Shore barrier island surf continues to produce big red drum, while anglers at the Cabbage Patch and buoys 16, 13 and 10 have battled behemoth black drum. Speckled trout have provided action for anglers fishing the Mobjack Bay rivers. Flounder action improved last week while strong offshore action continued. Speckled trout to 5 pounds have been reported at Onancock. The black drum fleet has been working the buoys off Cape Charles, were boomers to 55 inches have been reported. Offshore anglers have reported action with yellowfin tuna, mako sharks, and even a swordfish. Giant catfish are on the prowl in some Virginia rivers, and lunker largemouth bass of 5 to 8 pounds have been caught in Lake Anna, where striped bass action has also been good. Nine to 28-pound stripers have been reported in Smith Mountain Lake.
(Photo: Loyal Tidal Fish poster Justin Hurst provided this photo and information: “After two years of anticipation my son finally got to go on his first trip for big ‘bull’ reds. We started out the day by picking up our bait. He was so excited, he picked out a lucky crab and held it on his lap for the entire trip back to the house from the bait store.” They enjoyed a beautiful evening at the shoals that included several big red drum hooked and boated. “I have never seen him so excited in my entire life. He stated that next time, ‘We could just take some pillows and spend the entire weekend out there.’”)
Ken Neill reports in from tidal Virginia:
We have two new arrivals to our waters as cobia and Spanish mackerel have been caught. It is a bit early for both. It will probably be a couple more weeks before the bite becomes more consistent but more anglers will be out looking for them now that first ones have been caught. When conditions have been right, sight fishing for cobia has been good out of the Outer Banks. Both red and black drum continue to be caught. Red drum are being hooked in the surf of Virginia’s barrier islands and on the shoals at the mouth of the bay. Black drum are being caught in the “Cabbage Patch” area. Groups of boats fishing for them can be found near buoys 16, 13 and 10. Some nice sea mullet are being caught in these same areas. While that is good if you want to catch some sea mullet, it is not so good if you are trying to keep clam on the hook for black drum. A couple of other fisheries are opening up due to regulations. Sea bass is open as of May 19, which opens up our wreck fishery that has been shut down due to both the sea bass and tautog seasons being closed. Striped bass has opened up some more with the start of Virginia’s Bay Spring Season. From May 16 through June 15, anglers are allowed to keep two striped bass per person from 18 to 28 inches long; one fish may be 32 inches or larger. Striped bass can be found at all of the area bridges and small striped bass can be hooked on the flats around the grass beds. Some nice croaker are being caught in the rivers. Big speckled trout continue to be caught in the rivers of Mobjack Bay. Flounder action picked up a bit this past week with some nice catches coming from the western side of the bay. Offshore fishing was very good this with boats from Virginia Beach and Oregon Inlet meeting around the 41700-800 and making some great catches of yellowfin tuna. Some boats limited out. There were also a few bigeyes caught by the fleets. The impressive run of gaffer dolphin continues out of Hatteras.
From IGFA Virginia Beach Representative Julie Ball:
Less than ideal weather conditions offered anglers few opportunities to get out on the water this week, and the north-easterly winds in the forecast could also curb efforts for the weekend. The highlight this week is that summer fishing is on track with the arrival of one of the most anticipated warm-water residents, cobia. Sightings of cobia around the lower bay were confirmed last weekend as anglers began to catch fish, with some pushing to over 50 inches.
The prospect of red and black drum continues to draw anglers to the Eastern Shore side of the bay. Those who have dodged the thunderstorms to try their luck have found drum action a little slower this week. Red drum continue to pick at peelers and blue crabs presented along the breakers within the inlet of Fisherman’s Island, and along Nautilus Shoal and the Nine-foot Shoal areas, with late-day activity the best. Some reds are pushing to over 46 inches, but most are ranging from 40 to 44 inches right now. Justin Hurst of Suffolk took advantage of a lull in the weather this past weekend, scoring some nice birthday reds for his 9-year-old son, Logan, who released two fish at 42 and 43 inches (see photo and caption).
According to Mark at Chris’ Bait and Tackle, although some larger fish are around, most of the black drum are ranging from 30 to 40 pounds lately. The best luck is coming from around buoys 13 and 16 off Cape Charles, while the Nautilus Shoal area off Fisherman’s Island was providing some catches before the latest front. Chowder clams and sea clams are the baits of choice, and as long as the weather holds, anglers are looking forward to the Eastern Shore’s annual Black Drum Championship beginning May 18.
Nice striped bass are still patrolling the lower bay shoals, often mixed in with the drum. The Chesapeake Bay spring striped bass season is now in effect, allowing anglers to keep two fish per person between 18 and 28 inches. One of the two fish can be over 32 inches. Be sure to read the regulations for clarification. Folks are also still finding good rockfish action along the CBBT, where topwater lures are getting the job done around all four artificial islands. The folks at Ocean’s East 2 claim that many of these fish are healthy-sized, pushing to over 44 inches. Plastics are also working, but bluefish averaging around 5 pounds are often shredding soft lures. A few smallish gray trout are also still mixed in with the blues around the HRBT.
Bay flounder action is still not on fire, and large amounts of rain and windy conditions are keeping the water muddy. Better catches are still coming from the inlets and protected waters, where a few nice fish are emerging from many throwbacks lately. The action within the seaside inlets and backwaters of the Eastern Shore were decent before the wind picked up this week.
Speckled trout anglers are still finding keeper fish inside Rudee Inlet, along with scattered grey trout and bluefish. The shallows and inlets along the Eastern Shore are also giving up some nice specks lately, with many fish ranging between 19 to 21 inches this week, especially inside Mobjack Bay.
Sheepshead are making their early-season debut along the fishing grounds off of Kiptopeke, where fish to 11-1/2 pounds were caught recently by anglers bottom fishing for drum. Nice sea mullet are also a nuisance for drum anglers in these same areas. Small to medium croaker are available all over the lower bay, especially around the crossings and along the southern sections and shorelines of the bay.
When weather conditions allow, deep dropping will attract anglers in search of nice sea bass, as folks take advantage of the re-opening of the season on May19.
The Carolina bluewater bite is still going on with yellowfin tuna, bull dolphin, and good numbers of nice wahoo dominating the scene. And now Virginia boats are also finding some good action off the coast. Some warmer water near the 700-line gave up some nice yellowfin tuna to around 40 pounds for the crew of the Oblivion skippered by Captain Dave Trax out of Rudee. Mike Avery of Hampton also had a good trip on a recent overnighter when his crew aboard the Seaduction wrangled several yellowfin tuna, two makos, and even a keeper swordfish.
Virginia Saltwater Reports by Charlie Taylor:
CHINCOTEAGUE - Fair numbers of flounder are being caught in the Main Channel on drifted squid strips, peeler crab and live minnows. The shallows around the old lighthouse, Black Narrows and Queens Sound are also producing flounder to 7 pounds. Bluefish to 10 pounds are scattered throughout the inlet. Grey trout are showing on the back side of Fisherman's Island and just north of the Queens Sound Bridge. Striped bass are hanging around the many bridge pilings and piers. Surf anglers are taking taylor blues, skates, small sharks, sea mullet and blowtoads.
WACHAPREAGUE - Flounder action is good in Green and Drawing channels, as well as Millstone Creek and the Hummock. Pan trout are showing in the catches. Trollers are taking chopper bluefish just outside the inlet. Bayside surf anglers are taking red drum to 45 pounds. Local offshore ocean wrecks are loaded with sea bass and black drum are still holding on Dawson Shoals, with best action coming on the evening tide, using sea clam and peeler crab for bait.
ONANCOCK - Excellent fishing for speckled trout, from Nandua Creek north, along the bayside to the Maryland line. The fish are running large, with many over the 5-pound mark. Best success is to be had in shallow grassy areas on incoming tides, in the evening. Best baits are soft shelled and peeler crab or fresh cut mullet fished on the bottom. A few red drum are being caught. Grey trout of 2 to 5 pounds are being taken over structure such are the Target Ships or the Rockpile on rubber-tailed jigs tipped with peeler crab. Bottom fishing is excellent, with Pocomoke and Tangier sounds loaded with croaker to 2 pounds. The area straight out from Onancock is also holding large schools of 1- to 2-pound croaker. Larger fish are biting on slacking outgoing tides on squid or peeler crab. Mixed in the catches are flounder, sea mullet, medium spot and snapper blues.
QUINBY - Excellent flounder fishing, drifting at Quinby Channel in front of Sandy Island and near Rebel Island Creek, with some fish over 5 pounds. Some trout are showing in the catches and some breaking taylor blues have been caught inside the inlet. Channel bass continue to be caught in the surf along the Barrier Islands. Some boaters are taking black drum in the 35- to 40-pound class in the inlet, and surf anglers are taking some drum from the barrier island surf. Offshore, plenty of 8- to 12-pound bluefish are available on the lumps.
CAPE CHARLES - Good action for black drum to 55 inches from Buoys 13, 16 and 36A, on evening tides. Pan trout are on the upswing around the Cement Ships. Bottom fishing is good, just outside the harbor, for croaker, spot, sea mullet and a few trout. Tautog of 2 to 6 pounds continue to bite well along the mussel beds.
LOWER CHESAPEAKE BAY AREA - Catches along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel include croaker and flounder in the Small Boat Channel and taylor blues from all four islands. Beach anglers are taking a few flounder on live minnows. The Tower Reef and ocean wrecks are showing large spadefish. Offshore, yellowfin tuna and dolphin are plentiful, along with an occasional billfish. The ocean is full of chopper bluefish from the beach to the 102 Tower. Bottom fishing at the Twin Stakes is producing flounder, blowtoads, pan trout and taylor blues. Taylor blues are also available in the shallows at the mouth of the Poquoson River, just off Back River and around Factory Point. Trollers caught a few Spanish mackerel this past week, but the catches were sporadic. The York River is producing medium spot and croaker, along with a few pan trout and puppy drum. Speckled trout fishing inside Mobjack Bay has slowed. Cobia should be showing more this week as the first reports of catches are filtering in.
VIRGINIA BEACH – Head boats are returning from the ocean wrecks with good catches of sea bass of 1 to 3 pounds, spadefish and a few tautog. When they cannot fish the wrecks due to wind, they are bringing in loads of croaker and trout from the mouth of the bay. A few large bluefish are still prowling inside Rudee Inlet. Bank fishermen are taking a few croaker and some flounder. Along the resort strip beach, anglers are catching sea mullet and blowtoads. Trollers are finding taylor blues and a few Spanish mackerel. Offshore, yellowfin tuna and large dolphin are available at the 900 line, 65 miles SE of the inlet. Deep-drop wreck anglers are taking blueline tilefish along with the usual sea bass, conger eels, spiny dogfish and a few cod. Charter boats are loading up on chopper bluefish, with the best action centered along Bluefish Alley, the SE Lumps and Fish Hook.
JAMES RIVER - Croaker, catfish, bluefish and spot provide the action here, with the possibility of keeper stripers still in the mix.
OCEAN VIEW - Croaker are biting well in the evenings. Occasional schools of bluefish and stripers come to the lights after sundown.
LYNNHAVEN - Fair numbers of spot, croaker and sea mullet, along with a few flounder and lots of taylor blues.
VIRGINIA BEACH - Sea mullet, spot and croaker are taking bloodworms and cut squid. Occasional chopper bluefish. Lots of skates.
SANDBRIDGE - Mediocre catches of taylor blues, sea mullet, surf perch and flounder. Lots of skates.
Potomac River reports from Captain Ken Penrod:
TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER: Bass catching results were dependent upon wind direction and velocity and new moon tides which created very high highs and very low lows.
WASHINGTON DC: We find very nice largemouth bass in the Washington Channel along the Fort McNair drop-off as well as in Pentagon Lagoon. Rapala DT crankbaits have been well received and Mizmo tubes and Big Mouth spinnerbaits are good alternatives. Smallmouth activity was much better during low water on the bridge foundations where Mizmo tubes in green pumpkin with complimentary flakes of red or gold are hard to beat.
WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE: This vicinity was “lights-out” much of the week when strong winds didn’t chase you away. We had more 5-pound bass in the few days that we could effectively fish here than we have caught in a long time. We targeted post-spawn bass with crankbaits and 4-inch Mizmo tubes. We did find one area that had strong spawning activity so we left it alone. Good areas to fish include Smoot Bay, Penrod Cove, Piscataway Creek and Belle Haven coves. The best producing crankbait was the Rapala DT 6 in Hot Mustard. The Penrod Special spinnerbait by Big Mouth Lure Company was a close second.
MATTAWOMAN CREEK: We find fishing success to be below expectations. Strong winds kept us here two days and we caught some in the 6-MPH zone with Penrod Special spinnerbaits. In the Occoquan complex, particularly Belmont Bay, it’s almost a shame how much fishing pressure that pod of bass is under. Captain Dave Kerrigan has been doing well in Pohick and Belmont while Captain Keith Barker stays to the north in the Woodrow Wilson bridge vicinity. Get some Big Mouth chatterbait imitations and attach a shaky-tail swim bait.
Virginia Freshwater Fishing Reports:
POTOMAC RIVER - D.C. - The herring run is about over. Small white perch and large catfish are the order of the day at Fletcher's Boathouse. Stripers are plentiful and fishing action is fair to good. Washington Channel has begun to produce bass along the War College Wall. Fish buzzbaits across the grass early and late in the day. Spinnerbaits and plastic worms are the ticket if the sun is shining. Rattling crankbaits, fished along the outside edge, are taking good fish from the drop-off. Stripers are patrolling the drop-offs, so be prepared for a hard strike. Bridge pilings on the main river are producing good numbers of bass and stripers on crankbaits and plastic baits. Grass-beds around Blue Plains and outside the Spoils are producing good numbers of 2- to 5-pound bass. Plastic jerkbaits and spinnerbaits are the ticket here.
POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE - Largemouth bass are feeding in the milfoil beds along the main river, below Mattawoman Creek. Fish rattling crankbaits and plastic worms on the outside edges of the vegetation, and topwater baits over the beds, early and late in the day. The creeks are loaded with fish for those anglers fishing small plastics, small spinnerbaits and small crankbaits. The grass beds in the creeks have bass that are suckers for topwater frogs, floating worms and Zoom Super Flukes. These baits are best fished on braid with no weight. In the creek channels, keep the sinkers light and let the tide sweep the baits along the bottom. Watch the line where it enters the water for the strike. Small beetlespins will take good-sized yellow perch and sunfish, along with bass. Catfish are gobbling down cut bait, clam snouts and chicken livers throughout the river. Fish the bottom in the outside bends of the channel for the largest fish. Bridge pilings and flats adjacent to the channel will hold eating-size fish.
OCCOQUAN RIVER - Stripers are still available on jumbo minnows and deep-trolled Cordell Redfins. Early morning and late evenings are best. Bass are available on wood cover throughout the river. Crankbaits and plastic worms are the preferred baits. Crappie and bluegill are found around the boat docks, and catfish seem to be everywhere in the river channel. Live minnows and fresh cut bait are the ticket for the whiskered giants.
OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR - Bass action is good, even though the water has been high and stained. Crankbaits, spinnerbaits and plastic baits are taking some bass in coves, on points, and along the rock walls. Catfish are very active, taking clam snouts on the bottom. Larger crappie are schooled and suspended over the main river channel, particularly where submerged standing timber is found. Small minnows, tiny Hopkins spoons and crappie jigs are taking the fish.
BURKE LAKE - Bass action has improved, with plastic worms on drop-offs being the most consistent pattern. Crappie are taking small minnows and tiny jigs around submerged brush. Bluegill are biting well, with some fish over 1 pound caught. Catfish are taking clam snouts and nightcrawlers on the bottom. Muskie are not active.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER - Bass action in the tidal section of the river is slow. Some fish are being taken from blowdowns on the southern shoreline on plastic worms and -colored crankbaits. Blue catfish are still being caught in the tidal section. Cut herring, fished on the bottom in the outside river channel bends, is responsible for some giants. Above the city, smallmouth bass fishing is excellent in the high and swirling waters. Yellow perch, catfish and sunfish are taking small spinnerbaits, crankbaits and plastic grubs. Below the Route 301 Bridge, lots of bass are being taken from the tidal feeder creeks. Fish the outside bends of the creek channels, points and drop-offs. Small crankbaits, spinnerbaits and plastics are the ticket.
LAKE ANNA - Topwater action is excellent early and late in the day. Bass are breaking the surface, chasing schools of shad. Main lake points are producing well on crankbaits, spinnerbaits, plastic worms and grubs and live minnows. Some good catches of 4- to 8-pound bass around the 208 bridge on grubs, deep-diving crankbaits, spinnerbaits and plastic worms, in 10 to17 feet of water. Crappie are thick around bridge pilings and beaver huts, on live minnows, tiny Hopkins spoons and Beetlespins. Stripers are hitting well in the Rose Valley area on large, trolled crankbaits and live shad. Dyke 3 is also producing good numbers of stripers on live shad.
JAMES RIVER - Smallmouth bass are being caught in the upper reaches of the river on tiny crankbaits, spinners, plastic baits and live minnows. The tidal stretches are producing good numbers of largemouth bass, crappie and some catfish. Bass are orienting to wood cover, undercut banks on creek bends, and lily pads, while crappie are found around brushpiles. Catfish are located on the bottom, in the outside bends of the river channel. The Dutch Gap area's huge blue cats are spawning, with no catches of large fish reported. Stripers are busting shad around the power lines just below Hopewell early and late in the day.
CHICKAHOMINY RIVER - Largemouth bass action is good for anglers fishing the lily pads with plastic worms, spinnerbaits and buzzbaits. The key to fishing the pads is to use a translucent red worm and a 1//16-ounce sinker. Anything heavier will turn off the fish. Topwater baits are taking lots of fish from the hydrilla beds throughout the river. Most of the fish are averaging 1 to 2 pounds, but a few over 5 pounds are also being creeled. Crappie and sunfish are suckers for fly rod poppers throughout the river system, while catfish prefer cut bait or turtle livers, fished on the bottom of the channel.
LAKE GASTON - Main lake points are the ambush spots for the bass in the lake. Rat-L-Traps, Speed Shads and plastic worms are the primary baits taking fish. Boat docks are also holding lots of good fish. Best baits are Carolina-rigged plastic worms and lizards in pumpkinseed colors. Stripers are active around the mouth of Pea Hill Creek and around the island. Crappie fishing is excellent, once the schools are found. Most of the crappie are schooled near some submerged structure. The underwater forest in the back end of Lizard Creek is a good starting point.
BUGGS ISLAND LAKE - Bass are taking plastic baits in the edges of the willows. Bass are also found in three to seven feet of water in stumps and rocks. Live shad, bucktails and Redfins are taking stripers between buoys 6 and14. Striper fishing is red hot around the bridges at Clarksville. Some stripers to 22 pounds are being taken below Kerr Dam, along with white bass to 4 pounds, and some white perch. Crappie anglers are doing well with live minnows over submerged brush and around bridge pilings.
SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE - Striper action is good on Cordell Redfins, Rapalas, live shad and alewives. Sizes range from 9 to 28 pounds. Bass are biting well on plastic worms and live shad, during the day and topwater baits in the late evenings. Best action is around boat docks on points. Smoke, metalflake grubs and Zoom Flukes are taking some good fish. White bass are taking buzzbaits and small jigs.
Virginia Fishing Report Archive | Virginia Fishing Forum | Northern Neck Virginia Fishing Forum