As the late summer temperatures rise in our area, so does the fishing activity in Hampton Roads.
Flounder fishing has been steady this month, with quality size fish being reported on the lower Chesapeake Bay’s structures. Fishermen using artificial lures, such as bucktails, have been having success around the pilings and rocks of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Live-bait fishing has been great along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel as well, especially around the rocks of the islands and tunnels. Another option is the nearshore and offshore wrecks off Virginia’s coast. Decent founder catches have been reported and should continue into the fall, as well as some quality sized Black Sea Bass. The inlets and backwaters of the Virginia Beach area are also providing some keeper flounder. Places such as Lynnhaven Inlet and Rudee Inlet have shown numbers of fish being caught, including some Red Drum, Speckled Trout, & the occasional early season school-sized Striped Bass as by-catch.
The Cobia fishery has been fantastic this summer, with many quality sized fish being reported throughout the lower Chesapeake Bay. Fish are grouping together into large schools as they prepare to exit the bay, and can be found cruising the surface in open water as well as along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. When the fish get into this pattern, sight casters are presented an easy target. These fishermen a presenting these fish artificial lures, such as bucktails, and live bait, such as eels or spot. Red Drum are also an often-encountered by-catch of sight fishermen. These fish can be be caught with the same artificial lures and live bait as Cobia. Voracious strikes and charging runs make them a challenge on light tackle. Sight casters are reporting large schools of drum in the lower bay, along with the schools of Cobia. Chumming is still a viable option for Cobia, but fishermen are reporting that Sharks are an abundant by-catch, making it difficult for anglers to hook up to the intended species.
Along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel’s pilings, anglers are finding an abundance of Sheepshead, Spadefish, and Triggerfish. Anglers can find all three of these species in the same general area. Using clams as bait, an angler has a shot at catching all three species, but crustaceans such as a whole fiddler crab, cut blue crab, or a whole mole crab have been producing many Sheepshead in the 10-pound weight class. Spanish Mackerel & Bluefish action has been excellent this season. Many fishermen are reporting catches from the mouth of the bay, at Cape Henry, all the way to the middle bay area. Trolling small spoons behind weights or planers is always the best tactic for fooling these fish. The Croaker fishing has been great as well, with many larger fish coming from the deeper structure of the bay such as the Baltimore Channel & around the CBBT, the Cell, and the Back River Reef area. On the Eastern Shore, fishermen in Oyster are still managing to find quantities of quality-sized croakers, while the Kiptopeke area is producing numbers of Sea Mullet. Spot are also making their way into the inlets of the lower bay, with quality fish being reported throughout the area. All three of these bottom dwelling species can be caught on a traditional 2-hook bottom rig. As usual, squid, bloodworms, and clams are the best bait choices to fill your cooler for a fish fry.
Offshore anglers have been delighted with the amount of billfish action recently. Many boats are reporting large numbers of White Marlin releases within the past few weeks. Many of these boats are opting for the live-bait method, which is becoming increasingly popular in recent years for its ability to produce large numbers of quality billfish. Along with the White Marlin, there have been reports of a few Blue Marlin, Sailfish, and Spearfish. Dolphin are still abundant offshore, as well as Wahoo and Yellowfin Tuna, though these two species are more scattered. A few boats have also been going out to target Swordfish, with a 475lb example brought to the scales recently. Amberjack are still being reported at the offshore wrecks and towers. Deep dropping action is still good for the boats headed out to probe the bottom near the canyon’s edge. These boats are reporting a mixed bag of Blueline Tilefish, Grouper, and other bottom dwelling species.
In freshwater, Largemouth Bass can be caught early and late in the day on topwater lures. Lilly pads and thick subsurface vegetation can be havens for bass trying to escape the heat, so throwing topwater lures, such as plastic frogs, can be a great tactic to catch numbers of summertime bass holding in heavy cover. During the heat of the day, these fish can be found holding on ledges, deep structure, or in dense vegetation, and can be caught on soft plastics and jigs. Throughout the day, anglers should be on the lookout for schools of feeding bass driving bait to the surface in open water. Catfish have been making a showing in local lakes and rivers, as well. Night fishing has been the most productive, as these fish are largely nocturnal and feed heavily once the sun goes down. Anglers using cut bait on the bottom are showing good numbers of Channel Cats, while live-baiting is producing large Flatheads. Panfish, such as Bluegill are a source of constant daytime action in local lakes and ponds. Anglers can find these fish on shallow structure and can catch them on artificial lures, such as small spinnerbaits, or the tried-and-true bobber & worm method.