The billfish bite is improving as white and a few blue marlin have rampaged through trolling spreads. Tuna, dolphin and wahoo have also provided offshore excitement. Deep-droppers have hoisted up blueline tilefish, golden tilefish, blackbellied rosefish, and nice grouper. Big sea bass have also been hooked. Anglers looking for cobia have also spotted red drum. Flounder fishing has been good and while good numbers of 3 to 6 poundershave been reported, doormats have been few and far between recently. Sheepshead and triggerfish have been pulled from hard structure. Spadefish to 7 pounds have been reported on ocean and bay structure. Croaker are plentiful. Tarpon have been spotted along the Eastern Shore – good luck getting one to bite!
(Photo: Tidal Fish Super Subscriber ClassicRockfish reported incredible Chesapeake Bay cobia chumming action. Big fish caught included a 33 incher, 41 incher, 48 incher, 52 incher, and a massive 58-1/2-inch cobia. All cobia were caught on live eels. A truly memorable trip!)
Gloucester Boys & Girls Club Flounder Tournament
Saturday, July 14
Captains meeting Friday, July 13 at 6:30 p.m. at Crown Point Marina in Hayes, VA
First place wins $3,000
Wallace’s 1st Annual Flounder Frenzy Tournament
Saturday, July 28
Bull Island Angler’s Club 1st Annual Chesapeake Bay Cobia Cup – proceeds support Children’s Tumor Foundation
Saturday, August 11
White House Cove Marina in Poquoson
Early bird entry fee (by August 1) is $100
Call 757-648-0521, or email email@example.com
From IGFA Virginia Beach Representative Julie Ball:
Afternoon thunderstorms and blazing heat can make fishing efforts difficult at times, but in general the weather has been good. So what’s on everyone’s mind right now? Mostly cobia and flounder.
The flatfish bite slowed a little this week, but anglers are still coming through with steady catches of fish. Although the number of trophy doormats is down, with respectable fish ranging from 3 to 6 pounds, no one is complaining. Bigger fish are still coming from live bait and jigs offered along varying bottom structure toward the lower part of the bay. The Cell, Back River Reef, the CBBT structure, and inshore wrecks are just a few of the best flounder hot spots lately. Drifters are also having good luck with strip baits near buoy 42 and the Thimble Shoal Channel near Cape Henry. The outgoing tide is providing the best action. Both Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets are still giving up good numbers of keeper flatfish for drifters.
The cobia scene backed down some this week, and the catches are still not the huge fish anglers are hoping for. Smaller fish are offering action for sight-casters looking for top-water opportunities in open water along the lower bay channels and markers. A few larger fish are coming from the structure of the CBBT, with tossed live baits enticing the best action. The ocean front is also giving up a few cobia, as well as Bluefish Rock, Latimer Shoals, and the Nine Foot Shoal areas, where chummers are still finding a few takers.
Schools of big red drum are meandering about the lower bay, especially near the 4th island of the CBBT, providing some great sight-casting opportunities. Schools of jack crevelle are making their yearly stop in lower bay waters, briefly flashing unsuspecting anglers before disappearing into the depths.
Sheepshead are faring well, with most of these structure-oriented fish coming from the CBBT, with clams and fiddler crabs the best baits. Tons of aggressive grey triggerfish will also take your offering in the same areas. They are fun to catch and will hit most any bait. Spadefish to 7 pounds are available at the Chesapeake Light Tower, the Tower Reef, the CBBT and the Cell.
Spanish mackerel are still dominating the trolling scene along the ocean front. Bigger fish are coming from shallower water on small Drone or Clark spoons trolled at a quick clip. The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reports that most of the fish are from 14 to 20 inches, with taylor bluefish rounding out catches. King mackerel have been sighted skying along the Virginia Beach shorelines this week, with only rumors of a few mysterious hook-ups.
Croaker are seemingly everywhere from the HRBT to Cape Henry. According to the folks at Chris’ Bait and Tackle, the backwater croaker run out of Oyster is not strong yet, but plenty of folks are there to try their luck. Decent hardheads ranging to around 1 pound are biting near buoy 42, and off of Kiptopeke State Park. Some nice fish are also coming from Rudee and Lynnhaven inlets along with some spot weighing to around ¾-pounds. Ocean’s East 2 report that gray trout are making a showing around the lower bay. Smaller trout biting off of Kiptopeke, and some 2 pounders are surprising flounder anglers around the High Rise section of the CBBT.
Virginia tarpon are drawing hard-core anglers to the shallow waters of Oyster, with reports of sightings and hook-ups still trickling in. Be prepared to also tangle with big southern rays and sharks in the hot sun and flies in these same areas.
Deep dropping is still a good choice, with quality blueline tilefish, golden tilefish, blackbellied rosefish, and nice grouper on the menu. Jumbo black sea bass are also available mixed in with the tilefish. Amberjack are still taking jigs and live bait offered on offshore wrecks and at the South Tower.
The offshore bite is still good, with the billfish scene improving daily. Boats are raising billfish in spreads, with white marlin and a smattering of blues exciting bluewater trollers. Scattered yellowfin tuna are still hitting in the canyon, with the best action along the 400 and 500 lines in 50 to 100 fathoms recently. Wahoo are becoming more common, with some big gaffer dolphin showing here and there, along with a few surprise mako sharks.
Ken Neill reports in from tidal Virginia:
Offshore waters are providing a good mixed-bag fishery for dolphin, yellowfin tuna, and a variety of billfish. Good numbers of white and blue marlin are being encountered along with an occasional sailfish or even a spearfish. Some really impressive bigeye tuna have hit the docks and wahoo are slicing things up. Offshore bottom bouncers are catching blueline tilefish and wreckfish along with other creatures of the deep. Amberjack are at the southern towers for those who want to make the run for a lot of pullage. Most of the coastal wrecks are holding good numbers of sea bass, flounder, spadefish and recently, some very nice triggerfish have been caught. The Santore, Tiger and other wrecks have produced citation-sized triggers. Flounder are being caught in all of the summertime flounder spots with the largest fish coming from the CBBT. Large sheepshead are available at the CBBT where spadefish can also be found. Spadefish, can also be found around most of the structures in the lower bay and over the coastal wrecks though they have been a smaller class of fish. Cobia anglers are catching fish both by chumming and sight-fishing with a lot of small cobia being caught. The occasional monster is keeping everyone interested. Schools of big red drum are being encountered by anglers looking for cobia. When you run into reds, the drum fishing is usually better than the cobia fishing. Also keep a lookout for schools of large jack crevelle that are also being encountered in the lower bay. Schools of black drum can be found around the islands of the CBBT. Spanish mackerel fishing is excellent along the oceanfront and inside the lower bay. Some large king mackerel have been seen skying out of the water off Sandbridge. Tarpon are rolling around on the Eastern Shore seaside.
Virginia Saltwater Reports by Charlie Taylor:
CHINCOTEAGUE - Flounder catches improved this past week, while croaker catches are picking up. The mouth of the inlet gave up fair catches of sea mullet, spot, pan trout and sea bass, while offshore anglers were catching bluefin tuna at the Parking Lot. Chopper bluefish are thick at the Lumpy Bottom and the Parking Lot. In the canyons, school yellowfin tuna and the occasional dolphin or billfish are providing action. A scattering of mullet, taylor blues, spot, sand shark and skate are being caught from the surf at Assateague.
WACHAPREAGUE - Inlet fishermen are catching a mixture of flounder, croaker, grey trout and trigger fish in the Old Coast Guard Channel and inside Cedar Island. Green and Drawing channels are giving up croaker and a few flounder. Outside the inlet, good hauls of sea bass, along with a few tautog, are made on the wrecks. Offshore, boats are loading up on school yellowfin tuna and a few dolphin 30 miles east of Wachapreague, in 100 feet of water. Billfish action is rated as poor to fair in the canyons.
ONANCOCK - Good bottom fishing for spot, pan trout and croaker is reported in Pocomoke and Tangier sounds. In addition, anglers are catching a smattering of porgy, blowfish, sea mullet, taylor blues, small shark and flounder. Spanish mackerel are beginning to show in fair numbers.
QUINBY - Limit catches of flounder are available near the mouth of the inlet, when wind allows fishing. Taylor blues, some croaker to 2 pounds, and 2- to 3-pound grey trout are being caught at the Gap.
CAPE CHARLES - Good bottom fishing is available between the Cell and buoy 42A, and the Cement Ships. Spot dominate the catches, but croaker, sea mullet and gray trout are mixed in the catches. Citation flounder are being caught in the same area. Red drum are being caught near buoy 16. Cobia fishing has slowed, although several large ones have been taken in the Latimer Shoals area. At 26 Mile Hill, lots of bluefish are being caught, along with some yellowfin tuna. Some false albacore, and king and Spanish mackerel are showing. Spadefish are thick at the Cell, Plantation Light, and on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Amberjack are to be found at the Tower Reef.
LOWER CHESAPEAKE BAY AREA - Bottom fishermen are finding plenty of spot and some croaker, flounder and pan trout around the First Island of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Spadefish are available around the Third and Fourth islands. Tautog continue to bite along the complex, but most are small. Cobia fishing is good in the Bluefish Rock, Latimer Shoals and York Spit areas. Black drum are still found around the Second and Third islands. Spanish mackerel catches improved this week, with better action coming from the Third and Fourth islands, Cape Henry, the Tower Reef, the V-Buoy and the CB Line. The CB Line is also producing some cobia and most are in the 25 pound class. Plenty of spot, croaker and sea mullet are available at Twin Stakes. Flounder to 21 inches are being caught at Gun Rock, just inside Tue Marsh, on the York River. Good catches of flounder, spot and croaker are being made off Factory Point. The Bell Buoy and Poquoson Flats are also producing good catches of flounder. Trollers are taking Spanish mackerel in late afternoons, at Mill Creek and just off Buckroe Beach. A few tautog are taking crab baits at Fort Wool. Pan trout are showing on the lower York River, around the Lumps, along with lots of spot and croaker. Other top spot and croaker areas are the Severn River and off New Point. Gloucester Point Pier has plenty of spot and croaker, but flounder have slowed. Offshore, yellowfin tuna and dolphin are being caught just east of the Fingers. Occasional bluefin tuna to 100 pounds are being taken at the 26 Mile Hill.
VIRGINIA BEACH - Yellowfin tuna action is excellent SSE of Rudee Inlet and just off Oregon Inlet. Chopper bluefish action is excellent, along with fair numbers of dolphin and wahoo, at the 26 Mile Hill and just north of the Hot Dog. Bluefish of 8 to 14 pounds are available at the Tower Reef and just east, while amberjack and a few cobia are found at the Chesapeake Light Tower. The Tower Reef continues to produce good catches of spadefish. Headboats are working the mouth of the bay for spot, croaker and flounder.
LYNNHAVEN - Fair numbers of spot and sea mullet are being caught, along with some pan trout. Spanish mackerel are being taken from the end of the pier during high tides. Crabbing is excellent.
VIRGINIA BEACH - Spot, sea mullet and croaker are the mainstays for bottom anglers, although a few taylor blues, flounder and trout are also taken. Some Spanish mackerel runs are recorded.
SANDBRIDGE - Spot, croaker and sea mullet dominate the catches. Taylor blues and Spanish mackerel are available in the evenings. Cobia are within casting distance daily.
Potomac River reports from Captain Ken Penrod:
TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER: Bass fishing has changed some since the water has heated but the theory that bass go deep isn’t quite accurate. In any water temperature, bass go where the food is and right now, the food is in the shallows. Find green grass and you are close to green fish.
WASHINGTON D.C.: we catch smallmouth bass on Mizmo tubes from bridge foundations, rip-rap banks, drop-offs on the main stem, and rocky cover above Key Bridge. For largemouth, it’s hard to beat the Washington Channel so treat this water as if it was a lake unto itself. There are bass born there that have never been to the main stem. Use crankbaits on the drop-offs, and feed ‘em tubes everywhere.
WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE vicinity: We like the Belle Haven Marina for launching, and even small-boat anglers don’t have to go far. Coves on the Virginia side are very fish-worthy where Magic Stiks, tubes, and Big Mouth spinnerbaits trigger strikes. Also try a ¼-ounce jighead and spear a Magic Stik through the middle. Jig this offering down drop-offs and bottom clutter. Other good places to try include Penrod Cove concrete, Fox Ferry during low water, back end of Broad Creek, Hog Island during low water, and Smoot Bay drop-offs. A little farther south, Gunston Cove, Pomonkey Creek and Hallowing Cove are reliable stops most days.
MATTAWOMAN CREEK: The headwaters are really thick with algae and the spatterdock looks like a wildfire area. Look to wood cover within the 6-MPH zone with Stiks and Penrod Special spinnerbaits. The grass beds near the state park are still holding bass but not the numbers of just a few weeks ago. I really like 6-inch Case Magic Stiks Texas rigged on a 3/0 hook. The Occoquan complex is still worthy although beat-to-death in some areas. The heavy grass in Chickamuxen Creek holds plenty of bass, and plenty of boats.
Virginia Freshwater Fishing Reports:
POTOMAC RIVER - D.C. - Fletcher's Boathouse reports lots of catfish action. A few rockfish are cooperating for those fishing large minnows. Bass are hanging around most every bridge piling in the city. These pilings concentrate the tidal current and provide shade and baitfish. Plastic grubs, small crankbaits and spinnerbaits will take bass. Washington Channel boat docks and pilings are holding bass and crappie. The grass along the War College Wall is also holding fish. Pop-R's, buzzbaits, plastic frogs and spinnerbaits are taking bass here. Grassbeds below Blue Plains are giving up bass on buzzbaits, spinnerbaits and plastic frogs and worms.
POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE - Fish topwater baits around cover early and late in the day. Other times, small crankbaits, spinnerbaits, Senkos and plastic worms take the fish. The last two hours of the outgoing tide are the best time, but fish may be caught anytime the tide is moving. Farther down the river, Wade's Bay, Blue Banks, Mallows Bay, the mouths of Aquia and Potomac creeks, and Nanjemoy Bay, are full of hydrilla, topping out on the surface at high tide. Lots of milfoil is mixed in with the hydrilla in some areas. Here, the floating worm is at its best. Rig the worm Texas style and place a small swivel in the line, about 12 inches from the hook. Toss the worm out onto the grass and begin a slow, twitching retrieve across the top of the grass. When the strike comes, wait until you feel the weight of the fish on the line before setting the hook. The Zoom Horny Toad is catching fish like crazy. Rig it weedless, cast it onto a grassbed that has topped out and retrieve it just fast enough to keep the legs flapping. The bass will do the rest. Remember to wait until you feel the weight before setting the hook. Catfish are cooperative all over the river. Fish clam snouts, nightcrawlers, cut bait or live minnows on flats adjacent to the river channel. These fish put up a great fight, so be prepared for good times. In the creeks, fish the lily pad fields with plastic worms and grass rats for bass.
OCCOQUAN RIVER - Lots of bass and crappie hanging on boat docks and other wood cover. Small rattling crankbaits and plastic worms are the better choices for bass, while live minnows and tiny jigs are taking crappie. The grassbed at the mouth of the river is holding lots of fish, with the area closest to the Potomac River holding some real lunkers. Fish topwater poppers and spinnerbaits on higher tides and frogs and Senkos on the lower tides. Catfish action is good around the islands at the mouth of the river. Cut bait and crab are the baits of choice.
OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR - Bass catches are fair. Bass are being caught by patient anglers, on main lake points and dropoffs in 10 to 14 feet of water. Deep-diving crankbaits and plastic worms are taking most of the fish. Catfish from 7 to11 pounds, are hungry and taking clam snouts, cut bait and crab. Crappie anglers are happy, with good stringers being taken in 8 to10 feet of water, over wood cover in channels. Live minnows and tiny jigs are the preferred baits.
BURKE LAKE - Bass are taking crankbaits and plastics on dropoffs adjacent to weed beds. Brushpiles are producing some bass in addition to crappie. Occasional walleye are being taken while trolling nightcrawlers across points in 2 to 8 feet of water. Some panfish action on red wigglers, nightcrawlers and small minnows.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER - Some largemouth bass being caught in the tidal sections, near the city, on the southern shoreline. Fish shad-colored crankbaits or plastic worms on dropoffs and in blowdowns for 1 to 4-pound bass. Below the Route 301 Bridge, bass fishing is fair. Most of the fish are taken from the feeder creeks on topwater baits, plastic worms and small crankbaits. Jumbo catfish are taking cut bait, live shad, minnows and Ivory soap. Crappie schools may be found around downed wood, biting well on live minnows and tiny jigs or spoons. Above the city, lots of smallmouth bass action is reported. Preferred baits are small jig 'n pig combos, tiny crankbaits, topwaters and plastic grubs. The larger fish are being caught early and late in the day.
SHENANDOAH RIVER - The stretch just below Bentonville is producing good numbers of smallmouth bass for anglers drifting the river. Best lures continue to be small jig heads, tipped with chartreuse-pearl, smoke and white plastic grubs. Spinners and small topwater lures are also taking fish. Sunfish are thick, hitting Beetlespins and small spinners. Catfish are suckers for live minnows, nightcrawlers and cut bait. Some of the catfish are running to 20 pounds.
LAKE ANNA - Largemouth bass have moved deeper with the summer heat. Most bass are being caught from 15 to 25 feet of water on deep-diving crankbaits and large plastic worms. Better areas include main lake points, boat docks and channel dropoffs. When using crankbaits, lures should be stopped, allowed to float up momentarily, and retrieves resumed for best results. Plastics should be fished as slow as possible. Walleye continue to be caught on rocky points and around Dike Three. Lots of crappie action, with bridge pilings in 25 to 40 feet of water, holding the better fish. Tiny Beetlespins, Hopkins spoons and live minnows are working best. Drop the lures all the way to the bottom and retrieve them very slowly. Most hits will come only about five feet from the surface, but lures must be dropped to the bottom to entice the fish. Stripers are active from Sturgeon Creek to the Route 208 Bridge, Rose Valley and the State Park area. Best results are coming from deep trolling Mann's Stretch 25 and Mann's 30+ baits in depths of 25 to 35 feet. Free-lining live shad or jigging Hopkins spoons are also taking fish.
JAMES RIVER - Bass fishing is fair to poor, with bass being taken on moving tides by fishing standing cypress trees adjacent to deeper water. Plastic worms, spinnerbaits and small crankbaits are the better lures. Buzzbaits, fished in lily pads, are taking fish early and late in the day. Nearer the city, bass are taking plastic worms and crankbaits around the wing dams, on moving tides. Plenty of crappie are being caught in the barge pits on live minnows and tiny jigs. Smallmouth bass action is good above the city, with buzzbaits taking good numbers of fish early and late in the day, and plastic grubs and small, deep-diving crankbaits producing during the afternoon. Excellent blue catfish action on cut bait, fished in the outside bends of the river and creek channels.
LAKE CHESDIN - Largemouth bass action is good, with quite a few decent bass being caught. Most of the fish are being caught on live minnows, crankbaits and plastic worms. Crappie are still biting well around the bridge pilings on live minnows. Bluegills are taking crickets. Catfish action has improved, with best catches coming on chicken livers.
CHICKAHOMINY RIVER - Normal summer conditions prevail. Largemouth bass are taking buzzbaits, frogs and plastic worms in the lily pads, plastic worms and grubs in creek mouths on moving tides, and Rat-l-traps, spinnerbaits and plastic worms on cypress trees. Lots of good-sized sunfish on crickets and catfish action is excellent on nightcrawlers, minnows, cut bait and turtle livers.
CHICKAHOMINY LAKE - Live minnows are the preferred bait in this lake, although buzzbaits and plastic worms are taking lots of bass and pickerel. Pearl Bass Assassins, fished in the grassbeds, are taking bass and bowfin, early and late in the day. Crappie are taking small minnows, and bowfin are taking practically anything put in the water. Fish the points and brushpiles for best results. Catfish to 15 pounds and gar to 12 pounds are also being taken on minnows. Bluegill are plentiful on grass shrimp and crickets.
LAKE GASTON - Lots of bass being caught by patient anglers fishing Carolina-rigged lizards in 12 to 20 feet of water. Fish are holding tight to structure. Boat docks and submerged wood structure on the lower part of the lake are the better pattern, particularly early and late in the day. Topwater baits, fished in 6 to 8 feet of water early and late, are also taking some good fish. Striper fishing is fair for anglers fishing live shad at night. The Eaton Ferry Bridge area is best. Catfish are hungry and biting well at night, on cut bait and nightcrawlers.
BUGGS ISLAND LAKE - Early morning anglers, fishing deep-diving crankbaits and Carolina-rigged plastic lizards in 18 to 22 feet of water on creek and main lake Points, are catching largemouth bass. Stripers are taking trolled Cordell Redfins and bucktails in the Nutbush Creek area at night. Daytime striper anglers are catching fish in an area bounded by Kimble Point to the main channel to the dam and up to Buoy 8. Green and white bucktails trolled 22 to 25 feet deep are effective. Jigging with Hopkins Spoons and large bucktails is also effective. Crappie anglers are successful, fishing live minnows by the dam, in Rudd's Creek, and in Eastland Creek.
SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE - Some bass and stripers are being caught, but very few large fish are coming in. Live shad continues to be the producer of stripers, although topwater baits are taking some fish in the evenings and after dark. Jig 'n pigs and plastic worms are taking the bass. Main lake points are holding some bass in 16 to 20 feet of water. Coves and creeks are also giving up bass, when plastic worms and crankbaits are fished in the stained water. Boat docks are also holding some bass, along with crappie and sunfish. Better action is to be had early and late in the day.