Sportfishing with Dr. Julie Ball
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Weekly Sportfishing Rundown - Labor Day Report
29 August 2014

Labor Day weekend is already here, but donít hang up your fishing gear just yet. This is a great time of year for Virginia fishing. Summer species are preparing to leave the area, and many cooler water residents are settling in. Most anglers are opting for cobia and flounder as they group up in the lower Bay, making easy targets. Offshore, the billfish activity is also showing promise.

Flounder action is still good, with nice flatfish coming from various locations in the lower Bay. The CBBT is still producing for those using live bait and jigs near the 4th island and High Rise areas, but very good results are also coming from lower Bay wrecks and various inshore structures such as the Tower Reef, using three-way rigs and strips of cut bait or jigs lately. Some good reports are also coming from Back River Reef, and Buoy 42. The lower Bay inlets are also giving up keeper fish, with many ranging to 23-inches in both Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets. Nice keeper-sized seabass are also providing good action on many offshore structures.

Cobia hunters are content as the fish continue to transform into their fall patterns. Most boats are hooking up with multiple fish per trip, with some pushing into the 50 and 60-pound class range. Most Cobia are cruising in pairs, pods, or big schools in lower Bay waters as well as the Virginia Beach oceanfront. Last week, more fish began lurking around buoys and along pilings at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Some of these fish are still finicky, but a well-placed buck tail can also do the trick. Chummers and bottom anglers are also catching some decent fish in the usual hot spots with cut bunker lately.

Bull reds are still roaming the lower Bay shoals, as well as near the 3rd and 4th islands of the Bridge Tunnel. Surf anglers are also pulling red drum out of the surf along Smith Island. Jack cravelle are also still surprising a few anglers at the entrance to the Bay.

Sheepshead are still going strong as anglers find big fish along the CBBT using fiddler crabs and clam, with more fish grouping on the tubes this week. Trigger fish are still biting in all of the same locations. Some tautog are also hitting, but wait until mid-September to keep them.

Backwater anglers are finding good numbers of speckled trout and puppy drum in lower Bay shallows, especially in Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets, the Poquoson flats, and Hungars creek. Decent sized spot are providing good action in the lower Bay lately, especially off Little Creek, Willoughby and Buckroe, with fish also becoming more active within the inlets this week. Croaker are hitting near all four islands of the CBBT, the back waters of the Eastern Shore, and off Cape Henry. The hardhead action out of Oyster is still good this week. Sea mullet are also available off the concrete ships and Magothy Bay. Tarpon activity on the Eastern Shore is likely slowing up with recent northeasterly winds.

King mackerel action is still on the rise, and with easterly winds more common lately, and a good supply of ribbonfish, things could continue to escalate. A few fish ranging from 20 to 30-pounds are hitting live bait and lures along the oceanfront, with Sandbridge the best area. Bailer mahi have also remained inshore with the recent easterly blows. Nice sized Spanish mackerel are still providing some action within the Bay and along oceanfront tide rips, along with snapper bluefish.

The Southern Towers are still holding schools of amberjack, but the bite is hit or miss. Deep droppers continue to catch limits of nice blueline tilefish, grouper, and blackbellied rosefish, with jumbo seabass mixed in, but most boats are now focusing on the escalating marlin bite.

Offshore, billfish are still at the top of the list as the number of white marlin releases inch up recently. Blue marlin, sailfish, spearfish, and even swordfish offer bluewater trollers a little more variety. The recent Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament was a success, topped by the boat ĎUno Masí from Florida with 12 white marlin and 3 sailfish releases. Bigeye tuna are still a possibility, along with scattered yellowfin tuna. Wahoo and big gaffer bailer dolphin are also around.

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