Apr 28 2017

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Eastern Shore Drum Bite Has Taken Off


By Dr. Ken Neill III, Seaford VA

Tautog, Striped Bass, Tilefish, Grouper Season

Tautog is closed as of May 1. The Spring Striped Bass Trophy Season is open as of May 1. To participate in this fishery, anglers are required to have a special permit (free) and it requires reporting. Another of the recreational fisheries requiring a special permit with reporting is the tilefish/grouper fishery. Changes in blueline tilefish regulations have been expected for some time. So far, they have not been enacted so we are still fishing under last year’s regulations: 6 tilefish (combined species) per angler per day. Sea bass is another fishery with regulation changes pending but for now, that season will open on May 15. The recreational bluefin tuna bag limits have been increased. The trophy fishery remains closed. As of April 30, recreational vessels will be allowed to retain two school bluefin (27 to less than 47 inches) and 1 medium (47 to less than 73 inches) per vessel per day.

The Eastern Shore drum bite has really taken off. Big red drum and medium black drum are being caught along the seaside surf. Flounder fishing has also picked up on the shore with limits of flatfish being caught. Some flounder are being caught on the western side of the bay, up in the rivers and on the flats but the best early bite has been out of places like Wachapreague.

Tautog fishing remains excellent on structures inside of the bay but you can keep any as of May 1. More croaker are being caught and there is a good showing of sea mullet. Speckled trout and puppy drum catches have been very good inside of Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets and more are showing up on the flats and in the rivers on the western shore.

Offshore Virginia, it is mostly bottom fishing for tilefish while we wait for some good tuna water to move in. There will be more interest in tilefish after the sea bass season opens back up on May 15.

Yellowfin tuna catches are good out of Oregon Inlet. A few Virginia boats have made the run to the action during the rare weather window. Out of Hatteras, when boats can get out over the bar, fishing has been very good for blackfin tuna and more dolphin are showing up. Inshore boats are still making good catches of big red drum and the cobia fishery got off to an early start this year.

One of these cobia spent August 26, 2016 on the surface for 21% of the day. She made it down as deep as 85 feet and her average depth was at 34 feet for the day. She was one of the cobia tagged last summer by Dr. John Graves and Douglas Jensen of VIMS. The tags pop off and transmit their stored data to a satellite. Data transmission is never 100%. To get all of the data, the tag must be recovered. Three tags did not deploy from their cobia. Those fish are likely off of Hatteras right now so while you are chasing those cobia around down there, keep an eye out for these tags. You cannot miss them if you catch the right fish. This summer, more tags will be deployed in Chesapeake cobia. Around 35 of these high-tech tags will be deployed so we can get a better understanding into the life of a cobia.

To raise money for cobia research and to aid in data gathering, the PSWSFA will host a Cobia Bowl out of Dare Marina this summer. The captains meeting will be on June 22 with June 23 and 24 as fish days. Boats will be able to enter one or both fishing days.

. To learn more about the Cobia Bowl, visit it on Facebook and for entry forms and sponsorship information, visit: www.pswsfa.com/CobiaBowl_17.htm .To directly donate to support cobia research: VIMS Foundation Game Fish Research Fund.





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