Wild Chesapeake: Tuna, Stripers, Redfish and Trout
Chesapeake Bay Magazine’s Wild Chesapeake columnist Chris Dollar provides a weekly brief on what’s happening on the water.
Let’s get this out of the way: GO CAPS!
Ok, back to fishing—Here’s the quick hit list: Offshore anglers eagerly await schools of tuna beating tail fins north after what Outer Banks anglers have called one of the best tuna seasons in years. Cobia fishing continues to heat-up in Virginia waters. Try chumming or sight casting one- to three-ounce skirted lead-heads contrasted with seven or 10-inch rubber teasers. Reports continue of large schools of red drum in the same waters. Don’t forget, everyone (and that means everyone—sports, captains and guides) who fish for cobia must obtain a recreational cobia permit from Virginia Marine Resources Commission and report all fishing activity whether you hook up or not.
Spanish mackerel and Taylor blues have arrived in front of Virginia Beach, and the first scouts have pushed past Point Lookout. Cast hammered spoons or troll hoses such as 6/0 Rockhall Reds and spoons such as #0 and #1 Clarks and Drones. More croakers and spot are being caught in the Bay, with a few showing up on the lumps in Tangier Sound. Bloodworms on #2 hooks either top-bottom rigs or drop rigs work well.
I guided a trip for three Pennsylvania anglers on Eastern Bay last week, along with most of the Upper Bay fleet. We didn't mind the crowd, and apparently, neither did the fish. Everyone caught fish, and we enjoyed fast action on mostly schoolie rockfish from 14 to 20 inches pushing five dozen in five hours and boxed four including a 36.75-incher. Hot baits were five- and six-inch white Bust ’Em Baits and BKDs on half-ounce lead G-Eye and custom jig-heads. That area, Poplar Island, The Hill and buoys 86 and 85A are still holding keepers.
Cownose rays are in the Upper Bay too, which are fun to see but no fun to accidently hook. Recreational crabbing remains slow, but better than last week.
Catfish are also very accommodating in the tidal freshwaters. Cut bait is best.
If you want to try the area’s freshwater creeks and rivers for trout on the fly, now is a time, particularly early morning for the caddis hatch. In the evening on Gunpowder Falls, tie-on and cast sulfur flies.