Chesapeake Bay, Coastal Waters Out To The Towers.
By Dr. Julie Ball
VBSF.net fishing report contributor and IGFA Representative, Virginia Beach
The guys from Foster Electric O/B the Waverunner
The good striped bass bite off the Carolina coast continues to satisfy Virginia anglers. We have been spoiled here in Virginia in past years with very good striper fishing right off our beaches into February. But the past couple of years have delivered harsh winter weather, pushing water temperatures below 40-degrees early in the season. These plummeting temperatures encourage the rockfish to travel south in search of warmer water. Once they settle in, the fish generally stay off the North Carolina coast for the remainder of the winter, although they often opt to head for deeper water. This year, many schools are content within the legal 3-mile demarcation, allowing anglers to access the fish.
And these fish are no joke; recently two rockfish weighing over 60-pounds challenged the current North Carolina State Record of 62-pounds after holding for five years. The first contender was 63-pounds, and second fish caught later that week weighed in at 64-pounds. Now there are rumors of yet more state record contenders possibly hitting the scales.
Virginia anglers are determined, running up to 40 to 60-miles south to get in on the action. Boats are reporting steady hook-ups, with nice fish ranging mostly from 20 to 35-pounds from Corolla, to Kitty Hawk, and on down to Oregon Inlet. Umbrella rigs, parachute rigs, Mojo lures, and swimming and diving lures such as the Stretch 30’s are enticing strikes. Although this is not an easy run, the fish are within reach for boats willing to spend the time and burn the fuel to get there. But if you decide to go, make sure you purchase a North Carolina fishing license (www.ncwildlife.org). And unless you don’t mind a hefty fine, stay within the 3-mile limit marking the Exclusive Economic Zone, or the EEZ. You could catch the next state record rockfish!
Speckled trout action in the Elizabeth River slowed up some, but it is still good. The first ICW Speckled Trout Shoot-Out sponsored by the Norfolk Anglers Club and Top Rack Marina was a success. Most of the specks caught in the tournament were tagged and released. Top place honors went to Team “Jig-Er-Low”, with crew members Raymond Layton and Joe Scellato presenting an 11.96-pound 3-fish stringer, earning them an award of $1,500. The duo also took the $1,400 Calcutta for weighing in the largest trout at 6.11-pounds.
Live bait is working for the specks, but most anglers are scoring by casting lures using a very slow retrieve. The best performing lures are those adorned with black, orange, or gold. One boat reported releasing 14 speckled trout ranging to around 24-inches using Mirrolures and plastics near the Hot Ditch recently. Plenty of school-sized rockfish to around 8-pounds are also hitting the same lures in the River.