Our mild February temperatures allowed anglers to hit the water again and they were rewarded with some excellent sea bass and tautog catches. Yesterday, Connie at Long Bay Pointe Bait and Tackle weighed in these nice tautogs (above), ranging from 9 to 12 pounds.
Captains running offshore to bottom fish are seeing large schools of stripers 30 to 50 miles out, well beyond the 3 mile limit.
A few local head boats have been anchoring and chumming over wrecks, and are catching codfish and pollock.
Dr. Ken Neill checked in after his last trip. He said at about 20 fathoms his crew saw porpoise, whales and some bird activity. They did not stop, but he told his crew to have their tuna jigs ready on the ride home. He has found bluefin tuna in those conditions. When he got to his wreck it was loaded with sea bass. Conger eels were also prevalent. They did not catch a single dogfish. They caught a limit of sea bass with fish to over 5 pounds. On the way in, they did not see the same activity they spotted on the way out, but there were some birds, and slicks. When he slowed down, they saw some big bunker floating on the surface. They had just missed something. They cruised around and saw some fish marks. They dropped their jigs and hooked up. No tuna or bluefish, but a lot of big rockfish. They moved around a bit to see if they could find a tuna or bluefish. After a few tries with only rockfish to show, they left them alone and headed in.
Remember the Virginia black sea bass season only runs through Feb 28. A no-cost recreational species permit along with your regular saltwater fishing license is required to catch the sea bass.
Down on the outer banks of North Carolina, surf anglers have found drum between Frisco and Hatteras. The bluefin tuna are off the outer banks right now and some very impressive fish have been weighed. Commercial crews are catching lots of yellow fin tuna.
Cape Charles: 42.6 F
Cape Henry: 42.8 F
Kiptopeke: 42.8 F
Duck NC Pier: 44.4 F
Oregon Inlet Surf: 48,0 F
Hatteras Inlet Surf: 56.1 F
The Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament announced there will be no changes to citation requirement in 2018.
Be cautious while running offshore. The endangered right whales are active off the Virginia North Carolina coast from November to April. You can read more: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/shipstrike/