August is the time for white & blue marlin, yellowfin tuna, dolphin and wahoo. The Amberjack are still going strong at the Southern Towers as well as at various wrecks 15 to 30 miles off of Virginia Beach. Trolling for Spanish mackerel is excellent along the Virginia Beach shoreline right now, however, the tailor blues are a nuisance in this area. Also, tarpon are active on the Eastern Shore Seaside in remote back water channels of the lower peninsula. All the marshy channels are abundant with croaker making it difficult to catch anything else.
(Photo: Tidal Fish Subscriber Mike Avery caught this 73 ½ pound snowy grouper on the Norfolk Canyon on Tuesday 8/14/12. He weighed it in at Wallaces but said that “the current record holder is safe as I used my electric reel.”)
Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament
Wednesday August 22nd – Saturday August 25th
Virginia Beach, VA 23451
Ken Neill reports in from tidal Virginia:
Last week was the White Marlin Open and they had tremendous numbers of white marlin from the Washington Canyon on north. Now, the Pirates Cove Tournament is clobbering the sailfish south of the Triple 0s. The bite is so good that it is reminiscent of the record sailfish season we had a few years ago that turned the Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament into a sailfish tournament. With big numbers of both white marlin and sailfish in range of the Virginia fleet, next week’s Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament should be a very exciting event: www.vbbt.com . Other than the very good billfish action, there are decent numbers of dolphin, a scattered yellowfin tuna bite, some bigeye tuna, plus some wahoo around. Amberjack continue to provide action at the southern towers. The inshore wrecks are holding sea bass, triggerfish, flounder, and spadefish. Spanish mackerel fishing is very good along the oceanfront and in the lower bay. Cobia action has really picked up in these same areas for the sight-fishing boats. Double-digit catches have been the norm on sunny days. Flounder fishing is very good, especially around the CBBT, but all of the summertime locations are producing. Some speckled trout and puppy drum continue to be caught in the shallows from Back River to the Mobjack Bay area. I caught keeper-sized fish of both species, along with striped bass, while cast-netting mullet in Chisman Creek this week. Big sheepshead are available at the CBBT. Tarpon continue to be encountered at the Eastern Shore. Croaker will receive some extra attention this week as there is a big croaker tournament being held out of Dare Marina on August 18. The largest croaker tend to be very structure oriented. Structures like the Cell and Back River Reef would be good places to try for the winning hardhead.
The following are some recent individual reports:
Aug. 13: Captain Jorj Head went cobia fishing inside the bay. They intended to run back out to the ocean but they kept seeing cobia on the way; at the last count they were up to 10 cobia catches.
Aug. 13: I (Ken Neill) ran over to the Eastern Shore to fish for tarpon, watching the meteor shower on the way. I got set up at sunrise and had my first bite soon after; I had a tarpon jumping around at the end of my line. It took most of my line so I had to come off the anchor. The think towed my boat around for a while before letting me get a hold of it. Being my first Virginia tarpon, I brought it in the boat for a measurement a couple of photos.
Aug. 12: Captain Jorj Head fished the Chesapeake Bay Cobia Cup Tournament. Fresh of his win of the Wallace’s Bait and Tackle Flounder Tournament, Jorj followed it up by taking first place in the cobia cup and winning the big-fish Calcutta.
Aug. 12: Captain Rick Wineman fished for cobia at York Spit. They caught 2 small cobia, some sharks and 2 full-grown rays.
Aug. 9: Captain Jorj Head went sight-fishing for cobia along the oceanfront. They caught 10 cobia with the largest weighing in at 68 lbs.
Aug. 5: We (Ken Neill) ran up to the Washington Canyon to get in on the white marlin bite. We definitely got in on the bite; they came in pulling on both teasers, whacking the dredge, and in general destroying the spread. No real signs of fish. I did see one cutter and one free jumper but for the most part a whole bunch of nothing and then a pack would show up and tear things up. Wes Blow’s white marlin was his 50th citation fish qualifying him for Master Angler II and it is his 6th different citation for the year earning him another Expert Angler Award.
Aug. 4: Captain Rick Wineman fished the Tower Reef checking the buoys on the way. They lost a nice cobia, caught a couple of keeper flounder, some sea bass and a 3-pound triggerfish.
Aug. 4: Scott Elford went looking for cobia. They caught a couple in the 36 to 40 inch range and lost a larger fish. They also caught some flounder near York Spit.
Aug. 4: Martin Freed and Ruta Vaskys fished the Lumpy Bottom. They caught a bunch of false albacore and skipjack tuna. They had three big bites that they did not hold onto.
Aug. 4: Rick Robbins and Kevin Pankoke ran to the Poorman’s Canyon where they caught 8 white marlin.
From IGFA Virginia Beach Representative Julie Ball:
The summer heat is becoming a little more bearable as alternating cold fronts become the norm this month. Although this can make getting out on the water a little more difficult, the fishing trend is still good, with an upswing in the action in several species lately.
The cobia bite finally turned on over the past week, with catches improving daily. Sight casters are thrilled with the abundance and size of the fish, with a smattering of citations also hitting the scales. Good numbers of nice fish in the 30 to 40-pound range are cruising in open water in the lower Bay and along the ocean front. Anglers are also spotting fish along tide lines, under schools of rays, frolicking among pods of bait, and hanging out on navigational beacons. Chummers and bottom anglers are still catching some decent fish in the usual hot spots with cut bunker. Captain Jake Hiles, skipper of the ‘Matador’ out of Rudee Inlet, conveys that anglers are staying busy with an exceptional number of large sharks along the ocean front lately. His crew released five tiger and hammerhead sharks measuring over 6-feet long over a three day period. Spanish mackerel are still available off Cape Henry and Sandbridge, but the bite slowed up lately.
Flounder action is still on a roll. The larger flounder are more plentiful this week, with some fish pushing over 7-pounds mixed in with respectable 4 to 5-pounders. Both live baiters and drifters are finding good luck, mostly in the southern portion of the Bay. Flatties are hitting along the CBBT structure, mostly south of the 4th island, along the edges of the boat channels, on most lower Bay wrecks, and on many inshore wrecks. Local inlets are also giving up some keeper fish, with many ranging up to 22-inches in both Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets.
Red drum continue their late-summer trend, with good action around the 3rd and 4th islands of the CBBT, as well as the Nine Foot and Latimer Shoals areas. Small puppy drum are still active within both Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets this week, with speckled trout action on the rise within the inlets as well as the Elizabeth River, Mogothy Bay, and around the Poquoson Flats area.
Sheepshead are still hitting well, with nice fish taking fiddlers, crabs, sand fleas, and clams. The entire span of the Bay Bridge tunnel, as well as the tubes of the artificial islands, are holding fish. Folks are also hooking into lots of keeper tautog in these same areas. The trigger fish action is still a go, with some nicer triggers hanging on several inshore structures, along with some keeper seabass. Larger spadefish are hanging around the 4th island this week, with reports of some spades reaching up to around 7 pounds.
Croaker continue to hit in most areas of the lower Bay. Some of the better spots include the MMBT, the CBBT, the Cell, and the concrete ships. According to the folks at Chris’s Bait and Tackle, the croaker bite in Oyster is still marching right along, with coolers full of hardheads weighing to about 1.5-pounds the norm this week.
Some amberjack are still available at the South Tower and Jack Crevelle are also a possibility at the Chesapeake Light Tower, especially later this month. A variety of nice tilefish, grouper, blackbellied rosefish, and barrel fish are accessible for deep droppers along the Canyon edges.
Offshore, the billfish bite is hit and miss. According to Captain Don Malkowski of Get Reel Lure Company, the water off Virginia has much to desire this week, but a northerly blow could straighten things back up again. Scattered billfish and wahoo are still possible, along with some yellowfin tuna and nice mahi. Boats running to Carolina waters are finding a better selection, especially in the sailfish variety. Exceptional catches of sails, along with some scattered yellowfin tuna and bailer and gaffer mahi are the main event for the Carolina fleet this week.
Virginia Saltwater Reports by Charlie Taylor:
CHINCOTEAGUE - A mix of sea bass, spot, croaker and flounder are available in the deeper water around the mouth of the inlet. Outside the inlet, medium spot are abundant at the 2TL Buoy. Offshore, yellowfin and skipjack tuna, false albacore, large bluefish, dolphin and Spanish mackerel are being caught. Best catches come from 20 fathoms of water.
WACHAPREAGUE - Good flounder action, with best catches around the mouth of the inlet. Spot, croaker and a few sea mullet are found in the same area. Offshore, dolphin, yellowfin & skipjack tuna, wahoo and lots of blue & white marlin are being caught in and inshore of the Norfolk and Washington Canyons.
ONANCOCK - Bottom fishing is good, with best catches being made along the
channel edge from Hacks Rock south. Large spot are schooled in 40-60 feet of water, taking bloodworms. Croaker are taking cut fish and squid. Flounder are caught along the edge of the channel in 20+ feet of water. Porgy, pigfish, blowfish and a few pan trout are mixed in the catches. Moving tides are best.
QUINBY - Peeler crab baits are taking nice croaker, pan trout and spot, while drifting the "Chesapeake Sandwich", consisting of squid and live minnow, is responsible for flounder. The action in this area is red hot and getting better, as the fish fatten up for the migration South.
CAPE CHARLES - Flounder continue to bite well off Cape Charles with some excellent catches coming from buoy 36A and at the Cell. Red drum and cobia are being caught around buoy 36A. Croaker action has slowed, but excellent croaker catches are coming from the seaside port of Oyster. Speckled trout catches are rated excellent in the Bayside creeks, particularly Hungars and Plantation Creeks.
LOWER CHESAPEAKE BAY AREA - Loads of croaker and spot along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, with the better creels coming from the mussel beds at the First & Second Islands. Flounder action is excellent at the Small Boat Channel, at the mouth of Lynnhaven Inlet and just inside the bridge, in the area known as the Turning Basin. A few speckled trout are being taken inside Lynnhaven Inlet at the Ditch, Broad Bay and Dunkard's Hole. Good catches of triggerfish and spadefish are made from around one of the buoys off Cape Henry and large amberjack are available at the Southern Tower. The spadefish and triggerfish are hitting fresh clam strips, while the jacks take large, live spot. Cobia action is still available, but has slowed significantly. Most of the cobia are coming from the northern end of the CBBT. The Twin Stakes area is producing some catches of spot, croaker, blowfish, flounder and a few trout. The Newport Light area is good for jumbo spot, plus some trout and croaker. Excellent action for taylor bluefish and Spanish mackerel is available around the Third and Fourth Islands of the CBBT, casting jigs and poppers near the rocks. Croaker are available at the Cell. Bottom fishing in the York River is very good for large spot and croaker, plus an occasional trout. The mouth of Sarah's Creek and the "Lump", off Cheatham Annex, are favorite spots. Croaker to two pounds are being caught all the way to West Point.
VIRGINIA BEACH - Some white marlin success, with the best action being between the Cigar and Triple 0's. Large dolphin and yellowfin and skipjack tuna are included in the catches, although this action is better just east of the 26 Mile Hill. Amberjack action continues excellent at the Southern Tower. Headboats are fishing the mouth of the bay and returning with good catches of large croaker.
LYNNHAVEN - Spot and croaker catches are satisfying all anglers.
VIRGINIA BEACH - Spot and croaker action is excellent, with anglers also catching some sea mullet, pan trout and a few flounder. Snapper blues and Spanish mackerel are being taken by casters at the end of the pier.
SANDBRIDGE - Action is steady for medium spot, croaker and sea mullet. Several sheepshead have also been caught. Snapper bluefish and Spanish mackerel are available for casters in the evenings.
Potomac River reports from Captain Ken Penrod:
On the tidal Potomac, the water temperature has come down slightly which will help curb the algae explosion. SAV has been scarce to begin with and also appears to be dying in some areas. Due to the drought, the salt wedge remains pretty far up the river. Tributary algae are nasty and the blue green algae on the main stem are mostly downriver of the Occoquan.
WASHINGTON D.C. Vicinity: We continue to find nice smallmouth bass on bridge foundations where Mizmo tubes are hard to beat. I like the railroad bridge but Roosevelt and Key bridges are solid choices. We are catching some sick-looking catfish between Fox Ferry and Key Bridge and you are reminded that DC does have a health advisory for bottom dwelling fish in their jurisdiction.
WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE VICINITY: In the Woodrow Wilson Bridge/Belle Haven Marina sector, you may want to try the back end of Broad, Swan, Piscataway and Little Hunting Creeks with buzzbaits, Big Mouth spinnerbaits and Case magic Stiks. We struggled at the more traditional areas such as Penrod Cove, Fox Ferry and Belle Haven coves.
MATTAWOMAN VICINITY: This area isn’t red-hot but fish shallow wood cover in the creek and look for healthier grass in clear water between Grinders Wharf and Stump Neck Cove.
Virginia Freshwater Fishing Reports:
POTOMAC RIVER - D.C. - Largemouth bass are thick around the river vegetation. Most of the Eurasian Milfoil has disappeared from the main river, perhaps due to a virus attacking it. The hydrilla and wild celery are thriving however and are holding the fish. Top water lures are effective early and late in the day, particularly when the wind is blowing. Other times, spinnerbaits and plastic baits of all kinds are the ticket. All lures should be worked as close as possible to the vegetation. Main river bridge pilings are holding fish. Senkos, plastic worms and "creature" baits are the baits of choice. Washington Channel anglers are taking fish from the War College Wall drop-off on Rat-L-Traps, spinnerbaits, deep-diving crankbaits and plastic worms. All the wood pilings are potential hiding places for bass, especially on outgoing tides. Crappie are schooled up along the seafood restaurant wall. Small minnows and jigs are helping fill stringers here. Catfish are suckers for clam snouts or cut bait, fished on flats adjacent to the channel or in outside bends of the river channel.
POTOMAC RIVER - BELOW WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE - Main river hydrilla beds from Swan Creek to Nanjemoy Creek are holding large numbers of good sized largemouths. Likewise, the grass beds on the Virginia side, from Mt. Vernon to below Potomac Creek. Berkley Power Worms in red shad colors dropped in the outside edges, will trigger strikes. Topwater lures, particularly plastic frog baits, worked over the grass early and late in the day, will take good numbers of fish. Any submerged wooden cover adjacent to the grass will also hold bass. In the creeks, bass are roaming the lily pad and hydrilla fields and drop-offs. Buzzbaits and frogs in the mornings and plastic worms and spinnerbaits later in the day are the preferred methods. When fishing marsh grass edges and shallow grass flats, be aware that snakeheads are prowling these areas and will take just about any moving bait.
OCCOQUAN RIVER - Largemouth bass action has picked up with lots of 2-4 pound bass being taken on firetiger crankbaits along the rock wall at the mouth of the river. Anglers fishing points with plastic worms are also doing well with bass. The grass bed at the river mouth should be holding good numbers of bass, but action has been slow. Best results are on small white spinnerbaits on the drop into the river channel, around the mouth of Massey Creek and into Belmont Bay. Crappie action is beginning to pick up for fishermen using small minnows around boat docks. Catfish are taking clam snouts, nightcrawlers and cut bait.
OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR - Bass are suspended off points in 15-30 feet of water. The fish are normally sitting at about 12-15 feet. Jigging Hopkins Spoons or running rattling crankbaits through the fish occasionally turns them on. Do-Nothing worms also take a few fish. Catfish action is good, with the fish taking clam snouts and shrimp baits. Crappie are biting very well, with lots of stringers being filled by anglers fishing small minnows off the floating dock at Fountainhead Park.
BURKE LAKE - Crappie, yellow perch and bluegill are being caught at will. Red wigglers and nightcrawlers are the productive baits. Largemouth bass are being taken on small crankbaits and plastic worms around the weed beds and points. Brush piles are productive at times. Catfish are taking clam snouts, nightcrawlers and chicken livers.
FARM PONDS - Local ponds with clear water should show bass taking topwater lures early and late in the day and plastic worms and Senkos in the deeper areas during daylight hours. Sunfish are suckers for flyrod poppers and Beetlespins.
POTOMAC RIVER - UPPER - Smallmouth bass are hanging out around the rocks on the edge of the river channel, smashing baits that are presented naturally. Small crankbaits, spinners and plastic grubs are the prime baits, while topwater baits are more effective in the river channel. The stretch from Brunswick to Lander is particularly productive.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER - A few smallmouth bass are being caught above the city and catfish action is again picking up in the tidal reaches. Stripers are showing in numbers well below the city, being caught on Rat-L-Traps and Sassy Shads. Bass action is fair, with spinnerbaits and small crankbaits, fished in creek mouths, being the most productive method.
SHENANDOAH RIVER - Anglers are catching good numbers of smallmouth bass on plastic grubs, spinners, topwater lures and tiny crankbaits. Catfish are biting well on live minnows and madtoms. Stringers of large sunfish are easily taken on flyrod poppers and small topwater baits.
MATTAPONI/PAMUNKEY RIVERS - Fishing has been excellent on these rivers. Bass, white perch, yellow perch, bream, stripers, gar, pickerel and catfish are the species caught. Better lures included Beetlespins, peeler crab, nightcrawlers and Roostertails. Catfishing is particularly good. From West Point south, croaker fishing is fair to good on squid and crab baits. Schools of Taylor blues are noted, breaking on the surface in the lower reaches.
LAKE ANNA - Smaller bass are orienting to main creek points in 5-8 feet of water. Lots of fish in the 10-14 inch class. It is not unusual to take 20 or more in a day's fishing. Plastic worms and grubs are the better choice for lures. Larger fish are holding in 15-25 feet of water, where large plastic worms, jig 'n pig, drop-shot and deep-diving crankbaits are the baits of choice. Topwater baits, early and late in the day, are taking fish on points, both up lake in the stained water, and downlake where the water is clear. Crappie schools are holding deep around bridge pilings and around beaver lodges. Some stripers are being caught at the Splits and the Third Dyke.
JAMES RIVER - Above the city, smallmouth bass and sunfish are very active, taking topwaters, plastic grubs and worms, and small crankbaits. Through the city, smallmouth are hitting well on live minnows, plastic grubs and Beetlespins. In the tidal sections, bass are being taken on crankbaits, plastic worms and topwater baits. Creek mouths are producing well on falling tides, while the lily pads fields are the better choice on flood tides. Creek channels are producing bass for anglers fishing Senkos around each piece of wood in the channel. Outgoing tides are producing best. Crappie are taking small minnows and jigs around submerged brush. Jumbo blue catfish are taking cut eel in the outside bends of the river channel. Above Hopewell, bass are holding and feeding on the wing dams. Fish the downtide side of the dams with spinnerbaits and crankbaits on the falling tide. Pick apart the ends of the dams with plastic baits. Heavier sinkers will be necessary in the swift-running tide.
LAKE CHESDIN - Bass action has slowed, but should pick up with cooler weather. Plastic worms are taking the larger fish. Crappie fishing is picking up, with most of the fish being caught on live minnows and tiny jigs. Catfishing is excellent on chicken livers.
CHICKAHOMINY RIVER - Topwater baits, small crankbaits and plastic worms are the better choices of lures for largemouth bass. Anglers having the most success are fishing main river lily pads, isolated cypress trees and creek mouths. Catfish are taking chicken livers, while crappie are still taking live minnows. Yellow perch are suckers for Beetlespins, fished around submerged wood, in the lower creeks. Occasional pickerel and gar are taking baits throughout the river.
CHICKAHOMINY LAKE - Swimming worms, crankbaits and small spinnerbaits, fished over the grass beds, are producing largemouth bass and pickerel. Bass are also taking topwater lures, early and late in the day. Catfishing is good on chicken livers or cut crab. Live minnows are producing a mixed bag of bass, catfish, crappie, bowfin and gar. Bream and white perch are taking nightcrawlers.
LITTLE CREEK RESERVOIR - Bass action is good, with fish to five pounds being common. Some larger fish are taking drop-shot, plastic finesse worms, trolled Rat-L-Traps and live bait. Best action for all species is found by fishing points. Catfish and bream are showing in the creels, with pickerel catches increasing daily.
BACK BAY - Little fishing pressure. The main bay is showing good grassbeds, particularly the upper end. Bass anglers are taking up to 15 bass per day, with weights to 5-6 pounds. The creeks are giving up bass, catfish and white perch, along with bluegills and small catfish. Some crappie are also taken.
SUFFOLK LAKES - Fishing is excellent. Best action is on shellcrackers, where limit catches of 1/2-3/4 pound fish are common. Yellow perch and crappie have also turned on, with good numbers being taken. Some good bass are taken on jerk baits and plastic worms. Gar are providing most of the big fish action, with fish over 10 pounds being caught daily.
LAKE GASTON - Bass action is good for anglers using topwater lures early and late in the day. After the sun comes up, plastic worms and crayfish colored grubs are taking fish on main lake and creek points, and boat docks. Crankbaits, worked at the 12-15 foot level are also taking bass. Crappie, to two pounds, are taking live minnows around bridge pilings and submerged brush. Catfish and bream action is good throughout the lake. White perch are taking live minnows in 15 feet of water.
BUGGS ISLAND LAKE - Bass action has slowed in the past week. Some good fish are being taken by fishing red mud points with stumps. Long tapering points on islands are also producing fish on deep diving crankbaits and plastic grubs. Spinnerbaits, slow-rolled in shallow water, early in the mornings will take some fish. Crappie action is fair over brush piles, in 25-30 feet of water, on small minnows and jigs. Striper action in the lake is slow, but good numbers of fish are being taken toward the dam, off North Bend State Park. Best baits are Cordell Redfins in fluorescent red or silver/black back. Some anglers are using lights to attract shad and stripers. White bass are taking trolled Doll Flies and small Rat-L-Traps.
BRIERY CREEK & SANDY RIVER RESERVOIRS - Excellent bass fishing, with lots of fish being taken from these small lakes on plastic worms, large minnows and spinnerbaits. Most of the fish are in the slot limit. Catfish, to 10 pounds are taking chicken livers. Some nice crappie and bluegill are reported, along with a few small pickerel.
SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE - Bass are hitting small shad-colored crankbaits from dawn to mid-morning. Plastic crayfish, on Carolina rigs in 12-14 feet of water, are taking bass during the day. Stripers are still being caught near the log boom at the dam, on live shad, fished under balloons. The big fish are also biting well in the Blackwater River, Gills Creek, Bull Run and Little Bull Run. Plenty of catfish and crappie are being caught by regulars on the lake.
LEESVILLE RESERVOIR - Bass fishing is fair, with best success reported on purple plastic worms, pumpkinseed crayfish and crankbaits. White bass are schooled, chasing baitfish in the coves. Some walleye are showing as the water begins to cool. Occasional stripers will take white bucktails and trolled Redfins.
LAKE MOOMAW - Catfish and a few bass are caught at night by anglers fishing under the lights with live minnows. Bass tournament anglers are weighing limits, to 14 pounds, in night tournaments. Most of the fish are taken on jig 'n pig or plastic worms.
PHILPOTT LAKE - Brown trout are hitting beetles and grasshoppers. Bass anglers are using large minnows and catching some good smallmouth, mostly at night. Crappie and bluegill action is good on tiny crankbaits and jigs.
NEW RIVER - Lots of smallmouth bass are reported taking crayfish-colored baits and plastic worms. Walleye fishing is good, with anglers taking fish on jigs and bucktails. Flyrodders are catching bass on brown wooly-boogers and muddler minnows. Fishing is best in the late evenings.
SOUTH HOLSTON RESERVOIR - Bass anglers are having success on Silver Buddies and spinnerbaits. Best areas are rocky points. Crappie are taking small minnows and trolled baits, primarily in feeder stream mouths. Catfish anglers are scoring big, with fish to 12 pounds plus. Bluegill fishing is good, with best action being on crickets and flyrod poppers. A few walleye are being taken in the upper end of the lake.
CLAYTOR LAKE - Catfishing is excellent on cut alewives and shrimp. Bass action is picking up, with live alewives taking the fish. Stripers, 6-10 pounds are being caught in Peak Creek, generally in the late evenings.
TROUT STREAMS - Big Stoney Creek, White Top Laurel and Cedar Creek are all producing well for rainbows. Best results are being had on small spinners and small to medium dry flies and Caddis Flies. Elk Creek in Grayson County is producing on small black ants and small brass spoons. Brookies are active in the German River in Rockingham County. In general, small stream anglers should be using small dry flies, such as beetles, crickets and grasshoppers, while larger streams call for small mayflies and terrestrial patterns. Anglers using spinning gear should opt for small spinners and brass spoons.