Weekly Sportfishing Rundown
Memorial Day Report
22 May 2015
Many consider Memorial Day as the beginning of summer. With a pleasant forecast on the horizon along with some good fishing, the holiday weekend could be a great kick-off for summertime fishing.
Although the bite is not as crazy as it was a week ago, the drum bite continues to keep anglers occupied. Several boats are reporting multiple hook-ups, with good catches of big red and black drum. The black drum continue to come from the Bayside of the Eastern Shore near buoys 10, 13 and 16, where sea clams and chowder clams are the bait of choice. Red drum are still ravaging the breakers off the Eastern Shore barrier islands, while they are also mixing in with black drum among the shoals off Fishermanís Island, near buoy 10, Nautilus Shoal, and the Nine-Foot Shoal areas. Surf anglers are also still pulling big reds from the surflines along the Eastern Shore barrier islands as well as Sandbridge.
Although a bit early, the first Spanish mackerel catch was confirmed this week off the Virginia Beach Ocean Front. Look for this action to pick up as the waters continue to warm.
Cobia hunters in North Carolina are still reporting excellent catches this week as they intercept schools of fish heading north. But this week, both sightings of schools of cobia as well boated fish confirm their arrival in local waters off Virginia. This trend will only improve over the next months.
Flounder action is still picking up, but there is room for improvement in lower Bay waters. Folks are catching some fish at the CBBT this week, but most of the action is still coming from more protected areas. Both Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets are still giving up decent hauls of flatfish, with some flatties exceeding 20-inches. The best hauls continue to come from the backwaters on the Eastern Shore, such as the seaside inlets of Oyster and Wachapreague. Strips of squid, fresh stripped bait, and Gulp baits are some offerings working for flatfish this week. Scattered puppy drum and school-sized striped bass are also hitting in many of these same shallow water locations.
Croaker are keeping pier anglers content as small to medium-sized hardheads take squid and bloodworm offerings off Virginia Beach, Ocean View, Willoughby and Buckroe lately. Some decent sized sea mullet are also in the mix, along with some Taylor and snapper bluefish and small spot. Striped bass are also a possibility in these areas, as well as along all the lower Bay crossings and inlets, but be sure to check the regulations carefully.
With seabass season now open, boats are reporting scattered catches of fish, with some fish pushing up to 4-pounds coming from both offshore and nearshore structures. Tautog are available in these same areas, but remember that tog season is closed. Reports of spadefish around the islands and pilings of the CBBT and at the Chesapeake Light Tower are trickling in, but the water needs to warm up a few more degrees for these fish to begin biting with consistency. Sheepshead are also beginning to respond along the CBBT, and some nice fish are still taking bait intended for drum along the shoals.
The deep dropping scene is still producing good catches for boats as the dogfish continue to clear out. Expect a selection of blueline tilefish and golden tilefish, along with black bellied rosefish, barrelfish, and a variety of scattered grouper from along the edges of the Norfolk Canyon. Jumbo seabass provide a nice by-catch in these areas.
The offshore trolling scene should heat up soon off Virginia. In Carolina waters, the offshore fleet is enjoying some good gaffer action, with yellowfin tuna and big eye tuna adding to the mix. A few billfish are beginning to make things interesting as they enter trolling spreads, with some big blue marlin taking the lead this week.