A break in the wind this weekend could allow anglers to get out on the water, but options are somewhat limited off the Mid-Atlantic coastlines. Many folks will opt to spend their better weather days pursuing other fishing-related options instead, such as attending the Mid-Atlantic Boat Show at the Convention Center in Virginia Beach.
Other folks are turning to inshore opportunities. Though it depends on the day and who you ask, some anglers are still finding some agreeable speckled trout within the Elizabeth River and in the popular cove area. Many specks are on the smaller side, but a few nicer fish weighing in at over 5-pounds are still in the mix. Angers are reporting that live bait in the cove is still a good method, while various swim baits and jigs are also attracting some hits. Rudee Inlet is also boasting about some nice trout weighing to over 6-pounds hitting the scales this week, along with occasional puppy drum. The pups are hitting mostly cut bait within the Inlet lately.
Unfortunately, the striped bass fishery is not happening for any of the Mid-Atlantic States this winter, with schools of big rockfish lingering well out of reach of boats offshore. It seems the only hope now is to intercept the schools of rockfish as they head into the Bay to spawn in early spring.
Tautog is one of the only available species off our coast right now. A few tog hunters are experiencing some success fishing on wrecks and structures up to around 20-miles off the beach. Crabs are the top bait but they are very difficult to find, so plan ahead if you are organizing a trip. Remember, you can only keep three fish at 16-inches or longer. Tautog are also active on deeper wrecks, but seabass, which are not legal to keep right now, are making catches of tog a challenge.
When boats venture out to scour the deeper ocean floors, plenty of blueline tilefish, black bellied rosefish, and scattered grouper and wreckfish are around. But the invasion of dogfish is discouraging to many anglers, and all seabass must be thrown back right now.