Just as our spring species are arriving in coastal waters the Virginia charter boat closure has been lifted!! Captains are booking trips again, check with your favorite captain for the latest COVID19 chartering regulations.
We received our first black drum report and picture from Craig Irwin this week. Black drum love fresh clam. Craig said they should be available until mid-June. The black drum minimum size limit is 16 inches and you are allowed one fish per person. Virginia Citations are awarded for fish 80 pounds and over and release citations for fish 46 inches and greater. The state record is 111 pounds caught in 1973 by Betty D. Hall.
Captain Todd Beck (Knot Wish’n Charters) says trout fishing in Rudee is good, but crowded. Weekends are especially crowed with the popularity of kayak fishing. He reports the ocean temperature along the beach at 60 degrees now, just right for additional large schools of reds to make their way up from Carolina, its time. Last week he did some scouting south of the inlet looking for them, but didn’t run across any. Some are already on the shoals near Fisherman’s Island, fishing for them should continue to improve over the next few weeks. Dr Ken Neill is off to a good start; he’s already caught reds on the shoals on multiple trips. Fishing fresh crabs or live bait produces the best action. Remember, all red drum over 26 inches must be released. The slot limit for keepers is 18 inches to a max of 26 inches. The limit is 3 per person. Virginia Citations are awarded for released fish 46 inches and greater.
Tautog action is still good and should remain so until the close of the season. The tog season closes from May 16 thru June 30. Minimum size limit is 16 inches and the possession limits are 4 per person. A Virginia Citation is awarded for fish over 9 Lbs. The state record is 24 lbs 3 oz and was caught in 2012 by Dr Ken Neill.
This time of year Eastern Shore inlets near Assateague, Chincoteague, Oyster and Wachapreague are the hot spot for flounder fishing. There should be a few flounder available inside Rudee and Lynnhaven inlets and near the CBBT, but we haven’t received many reports yet. Drifting flounder rigs with a minnow tipped with a strip of squid works well. The minimum size limit is 16 1/2 inches. The possession limit is 4 per person. Virginia Citations are awarded for fish 6 pounds or greater. The state record stands at 17 lbs. 8 oz., caught in 1971 by Charles E. Cross.
Striped bass and bluefish are hanging around the bridge tunnel islands and inside local inlets. The Bay’s spring striped bass season runs May 16 through June 15. The minimum size limit is 20 inches, maximum size limit is 28 inches. The possession limit is 1 per person.
Sheepshead and spadefish should be arriving. Look for the sheepshead on structure and around the bridge tunnel piles, and the spades around bay buoys and the light tower.
Croaker should be available under piers on the lower bay and in the York River.
Anglers have started seeing and now catching cobia off Hatteras. They should start arriving in Virginia waters within 2 weeks. Remember the Virginia capture season does not open until June 1. Captains of vessels fishing for cobia must obtain a Recreational Cobia Permit from VMRC and report all cobia fishing activity (trips with harvest, trips without harvest, and no activity if permit is not used) for all individuals on board. Individual anglers that target cobia from a pier or a shore must obtain a Recreational Cobia Permit from the VMRC and report all of their cobia fishing activity (trips with harvest, trips without harvest, and no activity if permit is not used). Permits can be obtained online here or at an MRC Licensing Agent. Reporting can be done online through the Saltwater Journal or using forms provided by the VMRC.
Offshore yellowfin tuna are available for anglers making the long run to the southeast. Fishing should pick up closer to home in the coming weeks. Deep-dropping is producing blueline tilefish and some big golden tiles. A few snowy grouper and bluefish are also available.
The Rudee headboats are booking 17 hour offshore trips for May 16, 21, 28th. Daily, half day trips start on the 16th May. Give them a call and book’em up.
On North Carolina’s Outer Banks the red drum fishing continues to be good around Hatteras Island. Surfcasters are catching bluefish, speckled trout, puppy drum, blow toads, a few striped bass and lots of skates.
In the sound, speckled trout and small striped bass have been caught.
Boaters are finding a few cobia off Hatteras Inlet. That action is only going to get better in the coming weeks. Spanish mackerel fishing is excellent. Coastal wrecks should be holding amberjack, spadefish, triggerfish and sea bass.
Yellowfin tuna are providing outstanding action for boats sailing from both Oregon and Hatteras inlets. Many boats have caught their limit by 10 am. The tunas are averaging 40 to 50 pounds. Dolphin numbers are on the rise. The season’s first billfish has been boated.