For the first time this month, a whole week of fishing has passed which was not impacted by the effects of a major weather system! With slowly falling air temperatures and humidity, this time of year can be a great time to be out on the water, especially while fishing the surf of our undeveloped barrier islands. A wide variety of species will be available in the surf, including red drum, black drum, bluefish, striped bass, whiting, croaker, and spot, as well as the unwelcome assortment of sharks, skates, and rays. Depending on how mild the autumn is, good surf fishing can last through Thanksgiving. On the Chesapeake Bay side, we are seeing increasing numbers of small striped bass/rockfish and steady numbers of speckled trout, bluefish, and spot.
Lower Bay – Mark Snook, at Chris’ Bait & Tackle, reported anglers are still releasing a few red drum during the evenings. A 50-inch red drum was landed from the Kiptopeke State Park Pier. Sightcasters are faring well with cobia as they exit the bay, with most of the fish now being found from the fourth island of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel south along the Virginia Beach oceanfront to the Sandbridge area. The little bridge section of the bridge-tunnel is producing spot and flounder, with flounder also being taken around the high rise section of the bridge. Speckled trout catches have come from inside the bayside creeks and around the pound nets along the beach off Kiptopeke. Snook had not heard of any recent action with puppy drum and sea mullet/whiting.
Jeb Brady, of Bailey’s Bait & Tackle, reported speckled trout fishing keeps improving on both sides of the peninsula. Anglers are reporting limits of “nice fish.” Most of the trout have been in the 16- to 20-inch range, with an occasional larger fish to 24 inches. Large red drum continue to be caught along the bridge-tunnel. The Cape Charles pier has produced keeper-sized spot, croakers, and small gray trout.
Chincoteague – Donna Rae Roeske, at Captain Bob’s Marina, reported Chincoteague Channel is producing a variety of small panfish on squid strips and bloodworm-flavored baits. A few flounder, gray trout, and bluefish are still being caught in the main channel. Sharks are still dominating the action around the inlet, with Queen Sound also holding some of the toothy critters. Black drum and small rockfish/stripers are starting to make a showing in the surf, with surf fishermen using clam, cut spot, finger mullet, and crab for baits. The Blackfish Banks/subway cars are still holding flounder, trout spadefish, and Spanish mackerel, according to Roeske. Pete Vasiliou, of Captain Steve’s Bait & Tackle, reported they are starting to see some slot-sized red drum in the surf of Assateague. On Sunday and Monday mornings, surf fishermen casting in and just behind the wash enjoyed a run of pompano, with some kingfish/whiting and croaker mixed in. Flounder fishing inside has been better with the clearing water. Jimmy Vasiliou said some anglers fishing the waters off Saxis are finding striped bass to 36 inches and some “nice-sized” speckled trout. He added that the shop weighed in a citation pompano caught from the surf and a 27-inch black drum. Surf anglers targeting puffers were enjoying success on small, long-shanked hooks, tipped with bloodworm-flavored baits.
Upper Shore – Captain Matt Abell, of the Sea Hawk Sports Center, reported he and some members of his family had just returned from a successful smallmouth bass fishing trip on the Susquehanna River. A little closer to home, anglers have been catching speckled trout and rockfish while casting paddletails in the bayside shallows on both sides of the Maryland/Virginia state line. Farther south, anglers were still releasing a few red drum in the waters off Bayford. On the seaside, Abell said he had not received any flounder fishing reports from inside the inlets, but flounder and black sea bass were coming from the inshore structures. One group of customers had a catch of yellowfin tuna and a swordfish during an offshore trip last weekend.