We endured yet another harsh winter, and now Spring fever is rampant. But with water temperatures still lagging in the low forties, expect a late start to the much anticipated arrival of the first species of the season such as croaker, flounder, bluefish, red drum and black drum.Tautog is still pretty much the only game in town until the waters warm up. But the Bay action will remain behind the curve with the chilly temperatures, and the coastal and offshore action is slow. Although a few die-hard tog anglers have tried their luck on various offshore wrecks, only a few fish have resulted from their efforts. Scattered fish pushing up to around 15-pounds have made it back to the dock, with one boat reporting a catch of two keeper tog resulting from an all day trip this week. Seabass are also still hitting on these same wrecks, but continue to throw them back since the season is closed.
Speckled trout and puppy drum, often an alternative species for this time of year, is a no-go for the few anglers still trying their luck.
As we anxiously await our chance to finally get in on some decent fishing opportunities with warmer weather, our fisheries management representatives are at work changing regulations, guidelines and limits. Don’t expect great news on this level, as the recent announcement involving more restrictive striped bass regulations will only add to your frustration. New for the 2015 striped bass season, in the Bay the minimum size of fish you can keep has increased from 18 to 20-inches, and for the Spring trophy season, the minimum size has increased from 32 to 36-inches…but, wait for it…now you also have the honor of having to obtain a permit to do this. The coastal guidelines still allow for a only a single fish at 28-inches. So, be sure to review the regulations before you fish for rockfish in the 2015 season. The good news is, you can now fish for sea bass four days earlier on May 15th, and your fishing license fee was rolled back by a whopping five bucks starting in April. Just be happy remembering that Spring is here, and just hope to catch a fish you can actually legally target and keep! But hey, at least you saved five bucks!
The deep dropping interest off the Virginia coast is still good. When the weather allows, boats continue to catch an assortment of bottom dwellers, including blueline tilefish, golden tilefish, black bellied rosefish, and a variety of grouper. The dog fish are still out in force, making this activity a challenge, especially when cranking these pests up from around 400 to 800 feet down, where electric reels could be the answer.
Bluefin tuna are still the main interest for offshore boats off Carolina, with some decent yellowfin and some blackfin tuna also in the mix. Several bluefin continue to push to over 200-pounds. This action should continue to move closer into range for the Virginia fleet over the next weeks.