They arrived about a week ago – in force. Cobia are all over the OBX beaches and headed our way.
“We landed 16 cobia last Friday afternoon,” said Capt. Reese Stecher of Beach Bum Fishing (www.beachbumfishimng.com). Most fish were short, just under 36-inches. But we landed enough keepers to keep everyone happy. There are lots of fish!”
Also on the Outer Banks, sea mullet, bluefish, blow toads and a few trout are being caught in the surf. Anglers fishing the Little Bridge on the Nags Head/Manteo Causeway are catching trout. On the piers, Nags Head anglers caught bluefish and Spanish while Avalon, Jennette’s and Outer Banks produced bluefish. The inshore boats fishing around Oregon Inlet are finding bluefish and sheepshead. Sound side fishing for trout is good. Offshore, blue water anglers are catching yellow fin tuna, Mahi Mahi and some king mackerel. Billfish are starting to show up.
Bluefish and Spanish mackerel numbers are increasing along the Virginia Beach oceanfront. Virginia Beach Pier anglers caught both this week. Long Bay Pointe Bait and Tackle says bluefish have entered Lynnhaven inlet. Trolling or casting to schools near inlets, along timelines and over coastal wrecks in the lower Chesapeake Bay is the best bet. So far, fish are running between 1 and 5 pounds. The VA state record bluefish is 25 pounds, 4 ounces and was caught at Bluefish Rock in the Bay in 1986 by Gayle E. Cozzens. And the record Spanish is 9 pounds, 13 ounces and was landed off the Virginia Beach oceanfront in 1993 by Everett Cameron.
Large schools of red drum continue to migrate along the coast on their way to the Chesapeake Bay. Another large school was reported off the Virginia coast this week, where anglers were able to sight-cast to them. But the best chance of landing one of these beasts is to anchor up near the shoals at the northern end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Black drum are still a good possibly in the same area. Red and black drum released, measuring 46 inches or over qualify for a Virginia State citation award.
The upcoming cobia season should be very good. Large schools are migrating along the OBX on their way to the Bay right now. Anglers to our south have been sight-casting cobia and drum swimming together.
Now that our nighttime air temperature is remaining above 60 degrees, the inshore flounder bite is starting, and it’s off to a good start with most of the big fish coming from the inlets and tidal marshes on the Eastern Shore barrier islands. Long Bay Pointe Bait and Tackle is reporting flounder catches inside Lynnhaven Inlet and Knot Wish’n charters have picked up a few flounder inside Rudee Inlet as well.
Sheepshead are arriving the Bridge Tunnel daily. Their numbers will peak in June and they will hang around until September. They love fiddler crabs, sand fleas or clams fished up against the pylons. Most fish are in the 3- to 8-pound class.
Speckled trout are scattered in the marshes along the lower Chesapeake Bay and on the Eastern Shore. Look for them in shallow water along the beach and in all the local inlets. Spadefish should start showing anytime now. The good bite will occur in June. They will be available all summer.
The tautog season closes the May 15th, but the sea bass season opens again from May 15th to the 31st. Then it reopens again June 22nd and runs through the end of the year. Deep-droppers are finding plenty of tilefish and a few snowy grouper along with other bottom dwellers.
Boats running south are finding some yellow fin tuna and dolphin.
In the lakes, the water is mostly clear and at normal pool. The bass and crappie have largely completed their spawn. Fish are still shallow but will soon head for deeper water. Many stripers have abandoned Buggs Island and are heading up the Dan and Stanton Rivers. Stripers in Smith Mountain are unsuccessfully trying to spawn.
The rivers are in the best shape in months. Smallmouth are in the spawning process and the males are very aggressive. Excellent catfish action is coming from the Rapp and Lower James.
The trout streams are in near perfect condition.
At Lake Orange, water temperatures are in the low 70s and are running stained to clear. Bass and crappie are finishing up with the spawn. The bream and shellcrackers are spawning. Lots of fish are shallow feeding on small baitfish. Walleye are being caught on live minnows and nightcrawlers in the flats. Up-lake, catfishing has started to pick up as well as in the mid-lake areas with chicken livers and live minnows the best baits.