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I'm hearing about lots of Big Cows being caught at Cape Charles and points
South. Are they coming or going..........I'm confused? The water temp. got
cold really fast this year.

I would like to think they were coming up the Mid-Bay in the next week or so!

Tom
 

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I'm in the same boat.... the water temp dropped like a brick, and OI is tearing em up...

There are still some fish in the NJ/DE area, hopefully theyll make a right turn when they hit the mouth of the bay.
 

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Check the Chesapeake board - still plenty of big fish being caught and a post today reported Solomon's water temp at 48F, while Stingray today is at 44. A warm few days upcoming this weekd may stabilize the recent free-fall??
 

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I wouldnt be too concerned with the quick water drop its all surface temps, I am sure the lower depths are much more stable.
 

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The big fish will follow the big bait. If the ocean fish coming down from the NE don't find bait at the mouth of the bay, they keep on moving south. If there's still good numbers of big fish in the upper bay, they're eating something. If this is true, they'll make there way down sooner or later. They just might not stay around very long. Any warm snap now won't last long either and I expect the big fish bite in the lower-middle bay to be at best a week.
 

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Plenty of fish still coming into the bay. Until the bait leaves the fish should still come on up.
Plenty of big fish are to be had up north and around Tangier.
Alot of boats are still catchin' off of Delaware.
Most boats out of OI are having to come all the way up to the mouth of the bay to get into fish.
 

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History would leed me to beleive fish are on there way out....Caught fish in the mid 40's a month ago...Caught fish in the upper 30 for the last month....Seems as though most of the bigger fish are leaving... However fish we caught out of the middle bay this weekend were covered in sea lice. More than I've ever seen before. Some guys are still catching around the middle bay, But post's do not indicate numbers or size's of fish we saw a month ago.

So what I'm sayin is I don't know, but I do know we will be chasin em around ruddee aroud the 1st of the year.

Keep us posted on your finding GOOD or BAD :goodluck2:
 

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I'm not sure there is a correct answer to the question. Fish are leaving up north coming down the bay, and fish are coming from the Ocean up to the bay. Someday I would like to know the correct answer, but both seem to be very legit answers.

Sea Level
 

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Those OI boats that are catching at the mouth of the bay are not making that run from NC. They are docked at virginia beach fishing center for the winter. There are a handful of them that have been doing that the last couple of winters when the winters around here have been mild the last couple of winters and the fish have primarly hung around VB. Those mild winters have meant no fish making there way to NC. This year could be another story as the boats out of Oregon Inlet are already starting to catch some big ones. My 2 cents is that if the weather continues to stay this cold that it could mean we will once again start making the right out of Rudee Inlet and making those runs along the oceanfront to Corolla and Duck.
Even though the water temp reading are just surface temps it still gives you a comparison from years past. Which means the water is definately colder sooner that last year at this time.
 

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There are still here and more coming

The big rock will stay as long as mengaden stay and water temps stay above 42. Once it goes below 42 the menhadden leave and rock follow. There are still huge schools of menhadden in the lower Potomac for example. Last saturday there was a huge bite around 65, 63a, and SP. I hade 4 big fish, all with sea lice. BTW, sea lice is what eats the algea off of the ocean rockfish. Gradually the sea lice falls off the longer the rockfish stays in the bay

Its also important to understand what size the menhadden are. Because of the menhadden fleet in Reedville (Omega Protein), there are way less big menhadden, majority are 6 in or so. Thats why smaller baits (6 in shad) work more than the big baits.

BTW, in years past when the VB water temps went below 42 the VB fleet had to run south until they found the menhedden, and the rock were there with them. Last year water stayed warm and VB was really hot. I would guess because we have had such a cold fall, water will be colder sooner, (Sat was 48 in middle bay, 49-50 at the CBBT) and its falling. if it gets colder soon, then we may not have a big run of ocean schools coming up as far as Reedville and Smith Pt

Mike
 

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ok I am still confused...

I always understood that the rockfish migrated out of the tidal rivers into the bay and eventually into the ocean as fall progressed into winter. But I have always been confused about all the reports of the big cows caught that were covered in sea lice. IE they migrated INTO the bay in the fall. Are the biggest class of fish merely looking for food and bait and not being dictated by the temperature or an instinctual urge to go out to sea? Just curious... but it sounds like to me there are fish moving in both directions. I just want to get on top of em!! Is anyone hear a marine biologist??!! ;-)
 

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Went fishing on a charter out of Pt Lookout last Sunday. Boated 3 fish between 34-36 before the chop got to be too much and ripped off a planer board. It was nasty out there, at least one crew member spent the whole day "chumming." Gotta say I was starting to feel a little green myself. :D
 

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Here is some more info. There are some ocean fish that migrate down the bay thru the C&D canal from Delaware Bay. But the majority of big fish we catch (26 and up) are either up from the ocean via CBBT, or were residents of the bay. If one has sea lice it definitely was an ocean fish. I have caught them in VB at each one had hundreds of lice on them, the longet they stay in the bay the less lice. The CBay slalinity is about 30 pts per million, ocean is higher, and the Potomac for example is around 20.

CBay born fish tend to migrate with the ocean fish when they get about 4-5 yrs old, females at 5 yrs old can be about 25 in, males a little smaller. But not all of them migrate, some stay and get bigger.

But in any case, the big rock will be where the menhadden are most of their lives, they follow them from NC and up north, some as far as Rhode Island. Read fishing reports from up north and you'll see that big fish are caught all summer up there. One way to gage their migration track is to follow water temps.

But, in the spring, its a diferent story as Rock come into the bay to spawn from Feb to April, location of bait is not as important then. The primary commercial gill netting is in Feb-Apr. As an example, in Va this year commercial rules changed on 26 Feb (or a date close to that) so that no fish over 28'' could be kept commercially. You'd be amazed how many gill nets are out in Feb-April.

I sum, understanding the life of rockfish helps understand where they are and when. But it doesn't tell you what they will bite and when.
 

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I always understood that the rockfish migrated out of the tidal rivers into the bay and eventually into the ocean as fall progressed into winter. But I have always been confused about all the reports of the big cows caught that were covered in sea lice. IE they migrated INTO the bay in the fall. Are the biggest class of fish merely looking for food and bait and not being dictated by the temperature or an instinctual urge to go out to sea? Just curious... but it sounds like to me there are fish moving in both directions. I just want to get on top of em!! Is anyone hear a marine biologist??!! ;-)
The reason they seem to be coming and going is that they are... they all do not come in the bay at once and they all do not leave at once. Think of many different waves of fish coming in, fattening up and leaving. Added to this is that some stay longer/and shorter than their peers and some do come through the canal.

My .02 is that we are at the beginning of the end for mid bay rockfish bite and I do believe that this winter (if the trend continues) will be colder and the majority will winter further South this year. We have been spoiled by the last couple of mild winters.
 

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I keep tabs on water temp using the two sites below, one for Thomas Pt. (upper bay), and one for mouth of York River (middle bay). Right now, Thomas Pt is 41.9F, and York River 45.3F (site gives Celsius reading of 7.4C. Multiply 7.4 x 1.8, and add 32 = 45.3). Last week my boat thermometer read about 43F from Wake ramp to cut channel, and we caught fish. :clap: So, it's getting cold, but the fish are still biting! Good news is it's harder for the water to get much colder without some real severe weather, and that's not in near forecast.

Station: YRK000.00B

NDBC - Station TPLM2
 

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I don't think all these fish leave in the fall. I think that many winter over here in our rivers and the bay. This is just a hypothesis based on my observations over the last 10 years. The sea lice are truly an indicator of sea run fish. I have seen some fish that I call greenies, they look washed out compared to the sea runs and have a light green color on their backs rather than black. Their stripes are dull rather than lit up purple and black, they are not as strong pound for pound either. They are creatures of habit and of opportunity!
 
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