Virginia anglers have been treated to very good action with a wide variety of species. Sightcasters have been spotting, casting to and hooking a lot of big brown cobia. Immense cobia to 80 pounds have been brought to the scales. At times, sightcasters have seen red too, as in red drum. Even a few black drum have been reported. Silver speedsters, in the form of Spanish mackerel, have been taken by trollers along the Virginia Beach oceanfront. Flounder fishing has been on the upswing. Spadefish and sheepshead have also provided action. Yellowfin and bluefin tuna, plus a few early white marlin, have sparked plenty of excitement on the offshore grounds.
(Photo: “With the weather looking so good I talked my wife into taking off work at 10 and heading out to some cobia fishing. We got out to York Spit area at 11:30 a.m. and needless to say there were fish everywhere for the first 2-1/2 hours.” Dedicated Tidal Fish poster Entourage said, “My wife is way out of practice throwing eels and Hogys so most of the fish were a bust due to bad casts.” Many of the fish they saw also had “lock jaw and were rats, but the last bit of our trip we found a nice pair and they were hungry.” After a perfect cast the bigger of the fish (a 50 incher) ate a 14-inch plastic eel. “She did a great job fighting it and rigging eels too.”)
Ken Neill reports in from tidal Virginia:
The northeast wind caused a couple of cobia tournaments to be postponed. It did not do much to slow cobia fishing though. While the conditions were not good for sight fishing, the northeast wind really turned on the chum bite. Boats braving the conditions caught a half-dozen cobia or more each and fish to over 80 pounds were brought to the scales. When the wind subsided, sight fishermen were back out in force. After the blow, offshore boats found the tuna and dolphin still waiting for them. So far, it has been a great offshore season off of Virginia. Everyone is hoping that the yellowfin tuna will continue to hang around. They are here now so get out there if you can. Amberjack have made a showing at the southern towers. Spadefish are at the Chesapeake Light Tower and at the CBBT though I have not heard of any large spadefish being caught yet. Big sheepshead are at the CBBT. Spanish mackerel fishing is very good at Cape Henry and Sandbridge. Large speckled trout are being caught inside Back River, on Poquoson Flats and in the Mobjack Bay area. Big red drum continue to bite crab baits on the shoals at the mouth of the bay. Schools of big red drum are also being encountered by boats looking for cobia. Some black drum are schooling around the islands of the CBBT. Flounder fishing has really turned on. Some limits of flatfish are being caught with a good number of citation-sized fish. The best bite has been around the CBBT. Up the bay, in the Cell/buoy 42 area, the bite has still been slow but some nice fish are being caught up there too, just not in great numbers. That bite should pick up over the next week or so.
Here are some recent reports:
June 19 - the Tuna Tracker fished out of Hatteras. They caught 25 nice dolphin and two wahoo.
June 19 - Capt. Jorj Head went sight fishing for cobia. They caught three fish with the largest a bit over 50 pounds.
June 19 - Martin Freed and Ruta Vaskys chummed at Bluefish Rock. They caught a 42-inch red drum. Calling it quits, they pulled up the chum bucket and a cobia followed it up. They put an eel in front of it and then a chunk of bunker. The fish did not want either. Then they put a leftover ballyhoo, from their last offshore run, on a hook and put that over. That was the ticket as the cobia inhaled the ballyhoo. It was just under keeper size so it got released along with the drum.
June 18 - Hunter Southall did some chumming for cobia but found the sharks too thick. They decided to go look for them. They saw about six fish and caught two cobia.
June 18, I (Ken Neill) made an early run over to the Eastern Shore to look for tarpon. I saw no sign of them. On the way back, I looked for cobia and found several by seeing their wakes in the very calm water. Good cast on three of them resulted in no hook ups though all three went after the eel.
From IGFA Virginia Beach Representative Julie Ball:
Saltwater summer fishing action is becoming as hot as the rising summer heat. And with great weather on the horizon for the rest of the week, expect only good news to come from both the inshore and offshore fronts. The top news inshore is still cobia. Everybody is on the hunt for these brown-suited beasts. And they aren’t hard to find right now. The folks at Ocean’s East 2 report that plenty of cobia are swarming all over the lower bay, as well as the ocean front this week. Most fish are ranging around 20 to 30 pounds, but a few larger brutes are also on the prowl. Sightcasters are cleaning up, with boats spotting dozens of fish cruising in open water from the Thimble Shoal Channel to Baltimore Channel. Chummers are finding decent action in the usual hot spots off Hampton and along the Middle Ground area and Latimer Shoal near the mouth of the bay.
The next big draw is the rising flounder scene. With clearer water, flatfish are on an upward trend again this week, with limits of fish to around 5 pounds coming from most of the usual flounder haunts. Good action is available around all four islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (CBBT), where anglers are having good luck with strip baits and jigging. Some nice fish are also coming from the Cell, Buoy 42, Back River Reef, and Oyster. Lynnhaven and Rudee inlets are also giving up good numbers of flatties, with Rudee pulling ahead with a better ratio of keepers this week.
Although red drum are now overshadowed by the big cobia diversion, reds are still available along Fisherman’s Island and the Nine Foot Shoal areas. More red drum catches are occurring as incidental by-catches by boats targeting cobia. Several boats released reds while chumming for cobia near the mouth of the bay this week.
Spadefish action is still on around the Chesapeake Light Tower and Tower Reef area, where a few boats took home their four-fish limits of 4 and 5 pounders this week. Spades are also available along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, with fish responding particularly well around the pilings near the 3rd and 4th islands lately. Sheepshead action is still picking up along the CBBT, with folks finding nice fish along the entire span on clams, crabs, and fiddlers. Nice triggerfish are making a strong showing on lower bay structures and near-shore wrecks with many fish averaging 3 pounds.
Croaker of all sizes are hitting all over the lower bay, and nice-sized spot are still biting inside Lynnhaven Inlet, Little Creek Inlet, and along Ocean View this week. Nicer roundhead are still taking bait off of Kiptopeke and within Magothy Bay.
Spanish mackerel action along the Virginia Beach ocean front is impressive right now, with boats filling their limits with big fish from 18 to 24 inches. Taylor bluefish are in the mix, as always. Small Clark and Drone spoons trolled at 5 to 6 knots are enticing strikes, with Cape Henry the hot spot lately. Once the water clears a little more along the ocean front, king mackerel should make a debut.
Tarpon are still rolling in the backwaters of the Eastern Shore, but no reports of confirmed hook-ups as of yet. Amberjack are showing on wrecks and navigation towers, and the majority of the fish are ranging between 44 and 48 inches. A few larger fish over 50 inches are around, but plan to put in the time to catch them.
Deep dropping along the canyon edges is still giving up good numbers of deep-water species, such as tilefish and grouper, and by-catches of black sea bass. Nice sea bass are also still available on structures from about 30 miles out, and on out to deeper wrecks.
The Virginia offshore season is heating up, and the yellowfin tuna bite is the main attraction. Outstanding numbers of respectable yellowfin are the norm right now, and a few bigeyes are also around. School-sized bluefin tuna are available, especially on some of the inshore lumps, where the Hot Dog produced this week. The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reports that more billfish are making a showing this week, with several white marlin releases ushering in a good early billfish bite.
Potomac River reports from Captain Ken Penrod:
Potomac River and freshwater reports from Captain Ken Penrod:
TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER: Bass fishing in many areas may be as good as it ever was and the recent heavy rains did little to change that. In Washington D.C. water, we find plenty of mid-size smallmouth bass on bridge foundations, causeway at Columbia Island Marina, drop-off at Kennedy Center and Three Sisters Island area. Best lures have been the 4-inch Mizmo tube, Rapala DT6 crankbait and weighted Jacks worm. The Washington Channel dropoff along the Fort McNair side is pretty good for largemouth bass and there are some stripers there also. We recommend the Hot Mustard DT6 crankbait and Rattlin’ Rapalas.
WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE VICINITY - Bass fishing hasn’t been up to par with other sectors but you can still do well if you play the tides and work various areas like Hog Island, Fox Ferry Point, South Point, Woodrow Wilson barges and Belle Haven region coves. Use Case Magic Stiks with a 3/0 hook, Rapala Thug in Firetiger, Mizmo tube in green pumpkin, and Big Mouth Lure Co. spinnerbaits.
Between Piscataway Creek and Pomonkey Creek, try Pohick Bay on the south shore, Pomonkey Bay and the creek, small creeks inside Hallowing Cove, and grass beds at Greenway Flats.
In the Mattawoman Creek area, a “good tide week” and light winds much of the week helped us stay on one of the largest concentrations of bass that I’ve encountered in years. I’m fishing grass beds where I use Gator spinning rods, Shimano reels, 8-pound Excel or Suffix monofilament, 3/0 hooks and 6” Case Magic Stiks. Cast the offering to the outside edge of the milfoil. Other good areas include Leesylvania jetties, Chickamuxen grass, Belmont Bay grass, and Mallows Bay wood and grass.
NANTICOKE RIVER: Life Outdoors Unlimited Captain Brian Barnes reports “tough” fishing this week but Broad Creek saved the day, especially above Bethel in the wooded section of the creek. Bass were in the thickest of cover and his best offering was a Sweet Beaver in main-vein color as well as Big Mouth Grass Jigs in magic craw color. On low water Brian still likes the Rapala DT6 in hot mustard along spatterdock edges.
POCOMOKE RIVER: Captain Brian Barnes, Life Outdoors Unlimited guide and owner of Big Mouth Lure Company, reports that “the river is fishing about the same as usual” and what that means is a falling or low water time period is much more productive than high-water periods. That’s simply because this river has more emergent vegetation and other cover than any other tributary to the bay, and bass and food have massive sanctuary. Look for bass on the outside edge of spatterdock where Rapala DT06 crankbaits often do the job. Big Mouth spinnerbaits, especially the Penrod Special pattern are productive, and Brian likes to pitch Chigger Craws to pad edges also. Look to areas between Shad Landing and Dividing Creek where drainage ditches enter the river, and give Nassawango Creek a look. I really like a pink or white floating worm here.
DEEP CREEK LAKE: LOU guides Brent Nelson and Bret Winegardner report that the high pressure weather system was a negative this week. The spawn is over for the most part and bass will go to the summer pattern after a short recovery period. Brent Nelson reported that he and his clients caught 16 smallmouth bass and one largemouth but the fish were small. He likes Mizmo tubes and Magic Stiks for fish around boat docks, rocky shores near the state park, and grass edges in some of the major coves uplake. “Big bluegill are spawning in certain areas of the lake and the kids love that action,” he says. Brent likes the early morning bite where poppers and prop-baits invite memorable strikes. He says “after the sun comes up go the back end of the cove on the southern end of the lake. Fish the grass edges in 6 to10 feet of water with Magic Stiks and crankbaits.
SUSQUEHANNA & JUNIATA RIVERS, PA: The good news is that bass fishing became legal on Jun4e 16. LOU guide Mike Breeding has been trying to find musky and walleye without much success although he did land one walleye of 35 inches Wednesday. The river is in good shape for our style of fishing and the bass have had a 6 week sabbatical.