By Dr. Julie Ball
IGFA Representative, Virginia Beach
Weekly Sportfishing Rundown
04 July 2014
The Independence Day weekend fishing could be a challenge after Hurricane Arthur makes a mess of things. But once we are back on track, expect flounder and cobia to be the main event.
The flatfish action really picked up this week before Arthur’s arrival. But with muddy conditions after the storm, expect a delay in the action until the waters clear up. The quality is also improving; with several fish pushing to over 7-pounds boated this week. The bigger doormats are falling for live bait presented near structure, while 1.5 to 2-ounce jig heads adorned with plastics or Gulps are a good choice for jigging around the piling bases. Strip baits are also responsible for some decent fish, especially along lower Bay channels and off the bend at the 3rd island of the CBBT. Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets are giving up catches up to around 22-inches, especially for surf anglers wading near the Lesner Bridge.
Most anglers are still chasing cobia, but after the storm, all bets are off. Cobia catches were good, with some fish going to well over 60 and 70-pounds this week. Many of the fish are responding well to sight caster’s offerings of both live bait and lures. Boats chumming on the shoals are also faring well, but sharks and rays are still a nuisance. Areas off Hampton such as Blue Fish Rock are productive, while the Inner Middle grounds and Latimer Shoal areas are also providing good results with some larger fish caught on live croakers, eels, and cut bait.
Although red drum are no longer in the lime light, big reds continue to school around the Eastern side of the Bay, where a few bulls are taking bait intended for cobia. Black drum continue to hit around the artificial islands of the CBBT, where anglers are hooking some fish while casting.
The Spanish mackerel scene is on the rise. Folks trolling the mouth of the Bay, the CBBT, and the oceanfront shorelines are finding some limits of mackerel ranging up to around 22-inches. Plenty of small Taylor bluefish are also in the mix. The largest Spanish were biting off Cape Henry near the pound nets in 18 to 30-feet of water before the hurricane blew through.
Interest in spadefish is low, but plenty of fish are still circling structure most everywhere. The Chesapeake Light Tower and the 3rd and 4th islands of the CBBT are favorite locations, with most spades averaging around 2 to 4-pounds. The CBBT structure is also providing some decent catches of sheepshead lately, where fiddlers are working best, especially near the 1st, 3rd and 4th islands. Lots of aggressive triggerfish are also hitting in the same areas.
Puppy drum continue to bite in the lower Bay inlets, along with some speckled trout. Sea mullet are hitting in the southern small boat channel near the Bay Bridge-Tunnel, and within Magothy Bay inlet. Croaker and spot are scattered all over the lower Bay, with some hardheads weighing in at over a pound. The popular croaker holes in Oyster are also drawing a crowd, content to fill coolers with medium sized fish lately. Tarpon hunters are also making their way to the backwaters of Oyster hoping for a rare hook-up with a silver king.
Amberjack are still available at the southern towers and at some of the offshore wrecks such as the Triangles, Ricks and Hanks. Deep droppers are still enjoying good catches of big blueline tilefish, scattered golden tiles, wreckfish, and blackbellied rosefish. Some nice seabass are still available on some wrecks and structures to around 30-miles out.
Virginia offshore patterns will regroup after the storm, but the action was not off the charts before then, anyway. The tuna bite was still lagging this week, with some stray yellowfin, scattered big eyes, and a few big bluefin tuna lurking about. One bluefin tuna weighed in at the dock at over 600-pounds this week. Some bailer and gaffer mahi are around, along with mako sharks, and an occasional shot at a billfish.