Weekly Sportfishing Rundown - Christmas Report
19 December 2014

The Christmas Holidays may spread good cheer to all, but the improving winter striped bass fishery is spreading good cheer among the many anglers who venture out to claim their share. And with more and more 40 and 50-pound rockfish hitting the docks each day, anglers are finding it difficult to think about targeting anything else lately.

Most of these massive stripers are coming from the fleet of boats drifting with eels off the Eastern Shore, especially near buoys 38 and 40 recently. As this bite continues to heat up, boats are still returning home with mixed results. Some boats are returning with a handful of big fish pushing to over 40-pounds, while other boats are returning empty-handed. But you canít catch one if you donít go. So, hurry if you want to keep one of these brutes, as the Bay season closes at the close of the year. Boats can also still find school-sized stripers ranging from 22 to 38-inches along the lower Bay bridges and tunnels, and under working birds in open Bay waters. Some rockfish activity is also developing along the ocean side off the Eastern Shore this week.

The decent speckled trout bite will likely continue into the Holiday Season, with the best trout catches still coming from the Elizabeth River, where many boats are scoring with dozens of nice fish up to around five pounds or more. Live bait is the preferred offering lately, especially in the Cove area, but several anglers are also finding good luck while casting Mirrolures and grubs. The speck run in Lynnhaven has slowed, but Rudee Inlet is still giving up some larger fish, along with puppy drum.

Although tautog are still available on lower Bay structures and wrecks, most folks are too busy chasing big rockfish to notice. Limits of keeper-sized tog are coming on offerings of crab on several inshore structures this week. Offshore wrecks will become more attractive to tog hunters as the waters cool and other species become less available. These offshore wrecks are hosting plenty of jumbo seabass, but move quickly, as these tasty bottom fish become off limits at the close of the year. A few lingering flounder, along with big triggerfish are also present on many of these same structures. Chopper bluefish are likely on the move, but a these fish can be intercepted on offshore structures for a while longer. Bluefin tuna are also a possibility, but be sure to check the regulations before you target these massive tuna.

Deep dropping can be very good this time of year, but dog fish will move in soon, hindering fishing efforts. Blueline tilefish are hitting well, with scattered grouper and big seabass also in the mix. Moving to deeper waters over 300 feet will offer a chance at nice black bellied rosefish, and perhaps some golden tilefish.

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