Virginia Saltwater Fishing Report

By Dr Julie Ball





Only a few more weeks remain until school starts again, and the crowds abruptly thin out. And as we cruise towards the close of the summer season, good opportunities remain for local anglers.

The Labor Day weekend will have a rough start as the remnants of Harvey roll through, but Monday could offer a nice break in the weather. The fall fishing trend is off to a great start, with plenty of shallow water, inshore, and offshore action available, but with hurricane season approaching its peak, anglers are watching tropical developments closely. Fall’s main players such as spot, speckled trout, and puppy drum, are beginning to draw more interest, while the summer favorites such as flounder, cobia, and red drum are staging to leave local waters.

Schools and pods of cobia continue to track out of the Bay, with enthusiastic sight casters in hot pursuit. As long as there is enough sunshine to show the way, this action should remain steady until the season closes on the 15th of September. Look for easy targets of fish concentrated in open water near the mouth of the Bay and along the ocean front, where some fish are exceeding 50-pounds lately. Both chummers and site casters are hooking double-digit numbers recently.

Schools of big red drum are also delighting sight casters in these same areas. Surf fishing action is also picking up on the Eastern Shore barrier islands as these big reds fatten up to head out of the area.

Nice yellowbelly spot along with some big croaker are infiltrating the lower Bay and local Inlets. Local pier anglers are taking advantage of the abundant spot showing, with the North Easterly wind kicking the bite into high gear. Good numbers of spot are also coming from within Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets, with bloodworms the best choice.

The Bay flounder bite was worthwhile before the most recent blow, with good numbers of keepers responding to live bait and jigs worked near the CBBT structure. The flatfish bite in Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets is also decent lately. Offshore wreck action in deeper water is very good when the weather allows access to them. Nice sea bass will remain a by-catch on many of the same wrecks through the end of the month, but the season briefly closes on September 22nd.

Nice Spanish mackerel are still available along tide rips near the Bridge Tunnel, along Cape Henry, and along the buoy lines at the mouth of the Bay. The escalating king mackerel bite is producing the biggest fish seen in years, with several smokers pushing to well over 40 and 50-pounds boated over the past few weeks. Reports indicate that both live bait trollings and trolled plugs are getting the job done.

Inshore, big sheepshead were still taking late season offerings along the entire span of the Bay Bridge-Tunnel when boats could get out. Lots of trigger fish are also in the same vicinity, as well as on several inshore and offshore wrecks. Spadefish are still around, but the bite is slowing up
Speckled trout are showing in Lynnhaven, Rudee, and Little Creeks Inlets, the Poquoson flats, and the seaside of Oyster. This bite will continue to improve over the next months. Plenty of puppy drum are responding for anglers casting jigs or offering fresh bait within Lynnhaven, Rudee, and Little Creek Inlets.

Big amberjack are still available on local wrecks, at the Chesapeake Light Tower, and at the South Tower. Jack crevelle are also a possibility around the Tower Reef area and near the mouth pf the Bay. Deep droppers are still having good luck near the Canyon edges lately, with a few boats reporting limits of nice blueline tilefish, blackbellied rosefish, scattered golden tilefish. and nice seabass.

Offshore billfish action was very good, although the latest weather could mix things up a bit. In general, good numbers of white marlin and scattered big blue marlin are around, along with a few sailfish, spearfish, and swordfish. Some 50-pound class yellowfin tuna and occasional bigeye tuna, some big wahoo and bailer dolphin are also rounding out catches.


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