Feb 28 2014

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Virginia Fishing Report

The weather has presented more like a roller coaster ride than a forecast this season. This past week’s stretch of temperate conditions pushing to nearly 70-degrees encouraged some anglers to get out on the water.

With a limited selection of species to target right now, the prospect of scoring with tautog is drawing more anglers out to the open water. Most boats are heading for mid-range wrecks such as the Triangle Wreck area, but the reports have been less than spectacular lately. The best luck is coming from structures located further south, where the lower water column water temperatures are holding in a more moderate range right now. A few nice fish have been pulled from these areas recently, with a few tog pushing to around 17-pounds. Prepare to weed through plenty of big seabass and some annoying dogfish to establish your limit of 3 fish per person at 16-inches. The seabass have to be released, since they are out of season. Since bait is hard to come by right now, do your research and call ahead to secure your bait. Clams, mussels, blue crabs, peelers, hermit crabs, green crabs, Jonah crabs, or stone crabs will work. Cod, a fish popular in more northern regions, are also hitting bait intended for tog. Don’t throw these fish back, they make great table fare!

Striped bass are still schooled up around 15 to 20 miles off the Virginia coast, well out of reach of boats. Bluefin tuna activity is not happening off Virginia, but boats out of Carolina are finally seeing some activity, with a few catches reported last week. Some blackfin and yellowfin tuna are also reportedly in the mix.

trout-closed-vaDue to the swing in severe winter temperatures over the past weeks, the speckled population trout has suffered a huge blow, with thousands of fish dying as a result. Tuesday, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission issued an emergency order closing recreational fishing for speckled trout, other than for catch-and-release. The closure is effective beginning March 1st through July 31st until further notice. For anglers still interested in catch-and release activity, the Elizabeth River is still giving up speckled trout, with some fish topping 30-inches falling for lures this week, especially at night. Captain Brandon Bartlett of Yorktown earned bragging rights with a 10.5-pound gator he pulled from the River using a Mirrolure this week. Anglers sitting in the Cove are finding some decent activity with live bait, with several fish stretching between 24 to 25-inches. Scattered schoolie stripers and puppy drum are also providing entertainment in these same areas.

Boats venturing out to deeper water between blows are still finding decent catches of blueline tilefish along the 50-fathom curve areas, with lots of big seabass as a by-catch. Remember to toss the seabass back since the season is closed. Deeper areas along the Canyon edges are showing more activity with blackbellied rosefish, golden tilefish, and a variety of grouper and barrelfish are also a possibility. Captain Skip Feller reports that his crew aboard the Rudee Angler out of The Virginia Beach Fishing Center had a good catch of big golden tilefish pushing to around 60-pounds, and nice snowy grouper weighing in at over 40-pounds this past week. Dogfish continue to make fishing in deep water a challenge for now, but these pesks will move out once the water warms up.

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