Weekly Sportfishing Rundown
20 May 2016

As Memorial Day rapidly approaches, the spring saltwater fishery continues to escalate, with catches improving most everywhere. Weather is still a challenge, so anglers are taking advantage of any break to investigate this trend.

The biggest news is the early arrival of the highly anticipated and controversial cobia. Not expected until closer to June, to anglerís delight, the cobia showed in local waters almost two weeks ago. And with the pending cobia fishery closure still looming, folks are making the best of the action while they can. Scattered catches of all sizes around the lower Bay are just the beginning as these fish settle in for the season. Most fish are falling a bit short, but several nice fish pushing up to around 50-pounds have also hit the docks lately.

The drum bite continues to draw folks to the Eastern Shore side of the Bay when they can get out. Boats are reporting good catches of big red drum from the breakers and sloughs off the Eastern Shore barrier islands, especially with the recent full moon. Reds are also mixing in with some black drum among the shoals off Fishermanís Island, Nautilus Shoal and the 9-Foot Shoal areas in anywhere from 10 to 25-feet of water. Black drum is not red hot, and most fish are small, but a few blacks are pushing to over 50-inches recently. Blacks continue to come from the Bayside of the Eastern Shore near buoys 10, 13 and 16, where sea clams and chowder clams are working best.

Flounder action is still picking up, but there is room for improvement in the lower Bay. Folks are catching fish at the CBBT this week, but most of the action is still coming from the more protected areas. Both Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets are still giving up decent hauls of flatfish, with many flatties exceeding 22-inches. On the Eastern Shore, the flounder action out of Oyster is still good, with strips of squid and Gulp baits working best in Sand Shoal Inlet lately.

Snapper and chopper-sized bluefish are still hitting the lower Bay inlets and the CBBT area, with many fish measuring to over 20 and 30-inches recently. Surf anglers are also pulling choppers from the surf lines off the oceanfront. Striped bass are biting in the Bay, with scattered catches of rockfish to over 36-inches coming from the HRBT and the islands of the CBBT.

Croaker continue to delight surf and pier anglers, as small to medium-sized hardheads take squid and bloodworm offerings along the oceanfront, Ocean View, Willoughby and Buckroe areas lately. Some sea mullet are also in the mix. A few grey trout are also still lurking around the HRBT, but remember you can only keep one fish per person.

Anglers working Rudee Inlet and the Lynnhaven River and basin areas are scoring with some speckled trout, along with some nice puppy drum, and croaker. School-sized striped bass are also biting in these same locations.

With seabass season now open, boats making it out are reporting good hauls of jumbo seabass from structures in deeper water. Spadefish should begin showing around the islands and pilings of the CBBT and the Chesapeake Light Tower, but the water needs to warm up more before the fish will respond. Sheepshead are here, with a few nice fish already boated, especially by those targeting drum.

The offshore trolling scene should heat up soon off Virginia. In Carolina waters, the offshore fleet is still enjoying plenty of good gaffer action, with wahoo along with some nice yellowfin tuna. Hopefully, this trend will continue to move north to Virginia waters.

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