By Dr Julie Ball
We are now well into the fall fishing season, with plenty of good opportunities for anglers in most any venue along the Mid-Atlantic.
The speckled trout scene continues to develop, and the size of the fish continue to grow. Most backwater locations are hosting responsive and respectable fish, with jigs, plastics and Mirrolures attracting plenty of strikes. Rudee, Little Creek, and Lynnhaven Inlets, as well as the Poquoson flats are productive speck areas this week, presenting a surprisingly nice class of trout. This could be a good sign of a recovering fishery after the fish kills of recent years. Rudee Inlet’s action is steady, with fish averaging around 20 to 22-inches. The biggest fish continue to come from Long Creek, with several citation fish pushing to over 5-pounds reported this week. Folks on the Eastern Shore are also experiencing an increase in speck activity lately. Good numbers of nice puppy drum are also hitting in most of the same locations, along with school-sized rockfish.
Folks are still finding some decent spot activity this week, with bloodworms the bait of choice, especially in Lynnhaven Inlet. Some croaker are still around, especially at the HRBT, off Ocean View, and within Lynnhaven Inlet.
Tautog action is also evolving with the dropping water temperatures. Most any lower Bay structure is giving up keeper-sized fish averaging around 3 to 5-pounds. Fiddler crabs are becoming harder to come by, but blue crabs or clams can also do the trick. A few triggerfish are also in the mix, and smaller sheepshead are still a possibility in the same vicinities. Inshore and offshore wrecks are showing more tog activity, along with some flounder, nice seabass, and big triggers. Chopper bluefish should also be available around many offshore structures.
The early striped bass action will continue to evolve in the lower Bay, with mostly schoolies keeping anglers busy right now. Lower Bay inlets are providing plenty of opportunities for casters along bulkheads and docks, especially at night. Nicer rockfish, pushing to around 32-inches are also responding for anglers in the tributary rivers, with the bigger fish still heading this way. Remember to review the regulations.
Surf anglers are still hauling in big red drum from the surflines along the Eastern Shore, and down to the Virginia Beach Wildlife Refuge. Nice bulls and puppy drum are still responding around the artificial islands of the CBBT on cut bait recently, but these fish are on the move southward, where the North Carolina fall red drum surf fishing trend is heating up.
The flounder scene is slow inside the Bay, so deeper wrecks are the best bet for flatfish now. But some flatties are still available along the channel edges and the CBBT structure. Scattered keepers are also coming from within Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets.
The deep dropping scene will draw more interest as more species leave the area. Decent catches of blueline tilefish, grouper, and black bellied rosefish are available along the walls of the Norfolk Canyon.
The offshore scene is mostly dominated by wahoo this time of year when folks can get out. Mahi, longfin, and blackfin tuna are also a possibility, and schools of bluefin tuna could also make a showing at any time. Boats targeting swordfish are having a decent season, with the best to come as the waters cool.