Weekly Virginia Sportfishing Rundown


By Dr. Julie Ball

Once again, the weather continues to make a statement, as severe thunder storms pummel the Hampton Roads area. The excessive rain could muddy Bay waters, as well as influence the local salinity levels.

Flounder is still the hot species right now. Anglers are thrilled with the steady upswing in the overall flatfish trend over the past few weeks, with the fishery arguably the best it has been in years. The quality of the fish is very good, with limits coming from most lower Bay hotspots lately. Many flatfish are ranging around 3 to 7-pounds with some fish going over 8-pounds this week. The best results are coming from live bait offerings and jigging along bridge pilings, over the tubes at the 1st, 3rd, and 4th islands, and the High Rise areas of the CBBT. Within Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets, flounder pounders are filling limits with fish ranging to around 23-inches, while the flatfish action is steady along the both the Bayside and the seaside areas of the Eastern Shore right now.

Challenging weather conditions are overshadowing cobia sight casting efforts, but boats making an effort are rewarded with some solid catches, still mostly averaging in the 30 to 40-pound range. A few bigger fish are also responding to offerings, with some fish pushing to over 50-pounds hitting the dock. Chummers are still finding fish while weeding through sharks, with a few bruisers pushing to over 60-pounds in the mix this week. Both Latimer Shoals and the Nine Foot Shoals are producing for those anchored and chumming, while the Baltimore Channel area and the Virginia Beach oceanfront areas are producing for top water casters.

Big red drum are still providing some decent summer action as they school in lower Bay waters and along the shorelines off the Eastern Shore and Virginia Beach. Pods of black drum continue to circle the islands of the CBBT, but interest is nil with the excellent flounder and thriving cobia bites.

Spanish mackerel continue to dominate the trolling scene along the oceanfront off Virginia Beach. This week, the best catches are coming in 40 to 45-feet of water, about two to three miles off of Rudee Inlet. Quickly trolled small silver or gold spoons on small planers will do the trick. Most of the fish are nice-sized, ranging from 18 to 22-inches, with plenty of Taylor bluefish also in the mix.

Some big sheepshead are taking bait around the Bay Bridge Tunnel structure this week, with both clam and fiddlers working well. Plenty of greedy triggerfish will also take your bait in these same areas. Spadefish are still available at the Chesapeake Light Tower, the Tower Reef, on nearshore and inshore wrecks, along the CBBT, the Cell, and Plantation Light, with some fish ranging to around 6 to 8-pounds.

Croaker are a mainstay, with small to medium-sized hardheads hitting most everywhere from the HRBT to the CBBT. The area off Kiptopeke State Park is also a favorite location lately, with sea mullet also in the mix. Anglers heading to Oyster are finding good croaker action, with most fish in the medium size range, with a few larger fish starting to show lately. Spot are also biting along the oceanfront, the southern shores of the lower Bay, as well as near the Bay Bridge Tunnel. A few keepers sized spot are also hitting within Lynnhaven Inlet. Puppy drum ranging up to 25-inches are responding in most lower Bay shallows, along with some speckled trout, which become legal again at the end of the month.

Tarpon anglers are enduring the wrath of the recent storms and stiff winds. Most reports from the backwaters of Oyster on the Eastern Shore are indicating good battles with big sharks and massive Southern Rays while awaiting elusive silver kings lately.

Deep dropping is still a good choice, with decent blueline tilefish, golden tilefish, blackbellied rosefish, and nice grouper on the menu. Black seabass are also available on many inshore wrecks and deepwater structures. Amberjack are still available on several offshore wrecks and at the South Tower, but take plenty of bait, and plan for a hot day in July.

The Chesapeake Bay Wine Classic Foundation’s 12th Annual Wine, Women & Fishing (WWF) fundraising event goes underway August 16 -17 at Southside Marina in Virginia Beach, Va.

The Chesapeake Bay Wine Classic Foundation’s 12th Annual Wine, Women & Fishing (WWF) fundraising event goes underway August 16 -17 at Southside Marina in Virginia Beach, Va.

Offshore, the brief tuna surge last week left bluewater trollers wanting more. This week, only very scattered catches of tuna is a disappointment. Although the billfish bite is heating up, most boats are still only releasing a few white marlin, with a smattering of blue marlin and sailfish making things interesting. Some big dolphin are showing here and there, with mako sharks still a possibility.

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