Fishing from the Shore by Bill Hall
It feels kind of surreal, typing this report while keeping an eye on the weather channel, hoping that a massive hurricane heads out to sea before it gets off our shores. A fishing report seems mighty minuscule in comparison to those that may lose life and property. Last week, we were feeling the effects of northeast winds; this week, the remnants of a one-time Category 5 hurricane. Mother Nature is not giving anglers much of a break.
Wachapreague – Captain Lindsay Paul told me that “everyone is packing up and getting out” when I spoke to him. Some were already scheduled to leave after Labor Day, others were worried about the possible effects of Hurricane Dorian. Paul said that there were a few flounder still being caught, with a good percentage being throwbacks. A significant portion of the croaker population seems to have departed since last week’s nor’easter. Captain Paul did guide angler David Lundblom to a 25.75-inch doormat flounder that weighed an even 6 pounds. Offshore, a few marlin were released and lots of dolphin were caught over the Labor Day weekend. Lindsay had not heard of anybody fishing the inshore wrecks this week.
Chincoteague – Donna Rae Roeske, at Captain Bob’s Marina, reported the fishing continues to greatly exceed expectations for this time of year, with some longtime anglers claiming that 2019 has produced the best local action in the last decade. Although flounder has cooled down over the last two weeks, anglers are still able to catch enough for dinner. The Chincoteague Channel and buoys 17, 19, and 21, as well as the Queen Sound Bridge, have been the areas that have received the most attention. Minnows with 5 to 6-inch Berkley Gulp have put the majority of keepers in the coolers. The pier at the Robert Reed Park has produced some larger croaker and a few flounder. Anglers fishing from the shoreline east of the Curtis Merritt Harbor have landed flounder, kingfish/whiting, and croakers. Fisherman’s Point is still holding a few Spanish mackerel. Anglers fishing in the surf of Assateague have been catching an assortment of small bottom fish, some Spanish mackerel, and a variety of sharks and rays. Sharks are still the dominant catch just outside the inlet and up off the Wallops Island surf.
The inshore structures on Blackfish Banks produced an 8-pound flounder for Captain Kenny Cromwell. Cromwell was using an orange sparkle-colored Gulp with a jumbo live minnow. Wahoo to 55 inches and dolphin up to 25 pounds have been brought in from the offshore waters.
Jimmy Vasiliou, at Captain Steve’s Bait and Tackle, reported the Chincoteague Channel Bridge has produced rockfish to 32 inches, another large sheepshead, and a few more keeper flounder over the Labor Day weekend. The shop’s youth croaker tournament runs through Sunday, Sept. 8. At the time of writing this column, a 16.88-ounce hardhead was in the lead. Pete Vasiliou added croaker fishing has been good off Memorial Park and the downtown pier. He added the Saturday of Labor Day weekend experienced great offshore fishing as the shop registered citation catches with wahoo, blue-lined tilefish, and a white marlin release. Vasiliou had heard of a couple of small puppy drum showing up in the creeks but has not seen any brought in yet.
Lower Shore – Chris Snook, at Chris’ Bait and Tackle, reported that a population of spot has shown up south of Kiptopeke and are being caught in the same waters as sea mullet. Flounder fishing around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel has been inconsistent due to the recent windy conditions affecting the clarity of the water. Big red drum are being released around the bridge-tunnel in the evenings, but cobia fishing is on the decline. A few spadefish linger around the bridge-tunnel pilings and around the fourth island. Speckled trout are being caught in the creeks on the seaside and the bayside, where small rockfish are also being reported.
Upper Shore – Alan Ring, at the Sea Hawk Sports Center, reported the Spanish mackerel fishing has been the hot ticket off Crisfield in the middle bay, the Puppy Hole, and near buoys 70 and 72. Most Spanish mackerel anglers have been trolling with Clark Spoons behind #1 planers or in-line sinkers. Ring said rockfish and speckled trout were being caught in the bayside shallows by anglers using paddletail plastics and jigheads. Salt-and-pepper-colored paddletail bodies with chartreuse tails have been the hot color pattern. Over on the seaside, Ring said flounder fishing was “still hanging in, but has become a little bit spotty” around the inlets since the northeast blow. Minnows or silversides tipped with Berkley Gulps have been the baits of choice for the flounder fishermen.
Bill Hall was the first Eastern Shore resident to achieve Virginia Salt Water Master Angler Status. He has been named Virginia Saltwater Angler of the Year and Virginia Saltwater Release Angler of the Year. Bill is an I.G.F.A. International Committee Representative and a longtime member of the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament Committee. He is the Virginia Recreation Fishing representative on the ASMFC Striped Bass Management Panel and is a past recipient of the CCAVA Virginia Outdoor Writer Conservation Leadership Award.