Virginians who often spend summer vacations on the Outer Banks are now welcomed back. For the past month, Nags Head and Hatteras have been closed to all but homeowners. No longer. Nags Head is now open for business and the fish are hungry. Guide Capt. Reese Stecher (beachbumfishimng.com) looks forward to one of the best seasons ever. He reports lots of trout, puppy drum and stripers already biting.
“It should be even better than last year,” Reese says. “And last year was one of the best ever.”
And the cobia have arrived! A 67 lb. cobia was caught from the Ocracoke area over the weekend. This is exciting news, as we can look for the cobia to be in Virginia waters in the next few weeks. Surf anglers in the Buxton area of Hatteras, are pulling in sea mullet, red drum and bluefish.
In Virginia, Stan Cobb at Greentop reports that there is an excellent bite for grouper happening right now. Ocean structures, like rockpiles, are attracting plenty of these powerful bottom fish. Ocean structures are also producing rosefish and tilefish. The tilefish seem to prefer softer bottoms. Tautog are biting well on ocean and bay structures. In the breakwaters around Fisherman’s Island, folks are reeling in large red drum. Night fishing for the drum has been more productive. Flounder catches are becoming more common on the seaside of the Eastern Shore.
The Chincoteague area is known to yield quality flounder at any time, but it seems to have the best bite around during the early season. Live minnows are the most productive.
Striped bass are biting aggressively in our major lakes. Kerr Lake stripers spawn naturally and successfully in the upper sections of the tributaries that flow into Kerr. This is an annual event for many locals in the surrounding counties of the upper sections. Casting bucktails, flukes, and topwater baits are some of the preferred methods for hooking up with these aggressive fighters. Accessing these areas from the lake can be treacherous. It may be best to investigate ramps and access points in the Staunton and Dan rivers.
Smith Mountain Lake, and Lake Anna stripers are being caught in good numbers right now. Live bait has been working best during the day. Rip-rap banks are good at night with swimbaits, flukes and wake baits. The rip-rap typically attracts the shad, which in turn attract the game fish. Some bass anglers are saying that many fish have yet to spawn, so look out for another wave of spawning bass. Docks are a good bet for spawning and post-spawn largemouth. Many of the bass at Kerr have not shown signs of completing the spawn. The current elevation is 303.6 and falling. Many are reporting catching bass with Texas-rigged soft plastics, such as the Brush Hog.
Spinnerbaits have been catching quality fish as well. Many crappie are still shallow, and are being caught by bass anglers on larger baits. Fish are being caught from the bushes as well as the points. The James and Chickahominy rivers are getting better, as the water levels are returning to normal. Many of the bass have yet to spawn on these rivers, but the full moon arrived on the 6th of May, so this weekend could prove interesting. Both wood cover and pad flats are holding bass. Crappie are being caught from these same areas. The James is still high, so be aware of debris and stained water. This week, pond anglers are catching spawning bass. Bluegill baits work very well. Look for the bluegill bite to turn any time now, but cooler weather could put things behind, as it did with the bass.
At Lake Orange, Darrell Kennedy of Angler’s Landing (540.672.3997) says the water is clear and in the mid to low sixties with lots of fish still in the spawning mode. Bass, crappie and bluegill are all on the spawning beds. Catfishing has picked up recently with some nice fish being caught on chicken livers and large minnows. Red wigglers are the bait of choice for bream that are on the beds now. Some very nice walleye have been caught off of the points with live bait.