Weekly Sportfishing Rundown
13 January 2017
As Old Man Winter continues to tighten his hold along the Mid Atlantic coast, the grumbling among anglers continues to rise. It seems the winter fishery is not showing much promise due to closed fisheries, and the slow or non-existent action.
A few hopeful anglers continue to search the oceanfront for striped bass. But again, coastal striped bass are missing in action. One local charter captain suggested that perhaps the migration pattern of these fish has changed over the past few years, completely circumventing the inshore Virginia coastline. Regardless of the reason, rockfish are not within reach for legal fishing right now for coastal anglers. Although some catch and release rockfish opportunities with some sizable fish may still be available inside the Chesapeake Bay, not many are interested.
As for bluefin tuna, they are also anyone’s guess, with rumors of some sightings and another report of an undersized release. When targeting these highly-protected species, be sure to review the regulations carefully and use appropriately sized tackle and equipment.
Speckled trout action was decent within local inlets until recently. Before the latest freeze, some days were better than others, with some keepers pushing to around 21-inches, with the best luck occurring with Mirrolures or Gulp Shrimp. Puppy drum are also a possibility in these same locations.
Mostly due to limited opportunities with other species, tautog are becoming more intriguing to anglers, but the bite is hit and miss. Good catches are coming from within Bay waters along the Bay Bridge Tunnel as well as various Bay structures, with some fish ranging around 6-pounds. The tog bite on both inshore wrecks and deeper structures has been good this week, with recent reports of tog pushing to around 7-pounds responding to green crabs. Keep in mind that you can keep up to three tautog per person at a minimum of 16-inches. Big bluefish and seabass are still a possibility in some of these same locations, but the seabass season is now closed. Dog fish are also becoming an issue in these locations as they settle into the area.
With the non-existent inshore rockfish bite, anglers may turn to deep dropping when the weather allows. The Norfolk Canyon and its edges are a good place to look for deepwater bottom dwellers such as blueline and golden tilefish, grouper, and blackbellied rosefish. Dog fish are also becoming a nuisance in these deep water areas, which is making these catches more challenging.