The weather’s not the only thing discouraging anglers lately. With seasonal closures, less that optimal availability of fishing opportunities, and even more fisheries management regulations up for consideration, anglers are hoping that spring will bring good fortune and bountiful fishing. And luckily, spring is right around the corner.
According to Captain Steve Wray, skipper of the ‘Ocean Pearl’ out of Long Bay Pointe Marina, Virginia Beach, not many folks are getting out on the water lately due to the weather. With a limited selection of species to target, most anglers will head to offshore wrecks in search of tautog once a break allows boats to get out. Be prepared to weed through jumbo seabass to obtain your limit of three tog per person at 16-inches, but be sure to release the seabass since they are out of season. Since bait is hard to come by right now, plan ahead to secure your bait. Clams, mussels, blue crabs, peelers, hermit crabs, green crabs, Jonah crabs, or stone crabs will work.
Schools of big rockfish continue to roam 15 to 20 miles off the coast, well out of reach of boats. Remember, it is illegal to target or catch striped bass past 3-miles off the coast, even for catch-and-release activities.
Severe winter temperatures continue to threaten speckled trout, and with ice-covered inlets making access difficult, few anglers are pursuing trout lately.
Boats venturing out to deeper water between blows can still find decent catches of blueline tilefish along the 50-fathom curve, 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 will offer blackbellied rosefish, golden tilefish, and a variety of grouper and barrelfish. Dogfish will continue to make fishing in deep water a challenge for now, but these pesks will move out once the water warms up.