By Bill Hall –
Fishing on both sides of the peninsula continues to improve, with only the April winds limiting the action. Black and red drum have been landed from the Chesapeake Bay BridgeTunnel all the way up into the waters of southern Maryland, with most of the action thus far occurring close to the shore in shallow waters. The warming waters and recent full moon should boost blue crab activity, including the production of soft crabs, which are highly sought after by both the human and piscatorial populations. The only disappointment so far in the early season has been the lack of flounder catches out of Oyster, south to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, but that can quickly turn on like a light switch with a few consecutive days of light southwest breezes.
Upper Shore – Captain Matt Abell, at the Sea Hawk Sports Center, said members of the shop’s staff fished the waters of Folly Creek and Wachapreague over the weekend and found improved flounder fishing. He said that the fishery’s success is still reliant on a falling tide. Matt said that black drum are being caught in the Chesapeake Bay from Deal Island south, with most of the catches coming from the waters around Fox Island and Parker’s Island. A few red drum have started to show up in the upper bay shallows. Captain Abell added that a number of black drum are still being pulled from the barrier island surf, as well as a few reds, with most of the red drum coming off the lower Virginia islands. He said that he had heard reports of bayside speckled trout catches. Black perch catches continue to be made on the Pocomoke River, where the spring shad fishery has been more productive than usual.
Chincoteague – Pete Vasiliou, of Captain Steve’s Bait and Tackle, reported that there has been a “consistent” bite of black drum off the beach. He said the fish were hitting peeler crab, clam, and sand fleas tipped with Fish Bites. He added that the flounder fishing was picking up in the back bay.
Wachapreague – Amanda Manzella, at the Wachapreague Inn, said that a “few” flounder had been caught over the week, but overall fishing pressure was light over the Easter weekend. The inn is heavily booked this weekend for the 31st Annual Captain Zed’s Flounder Tournament, which runs April 22 to May 1.
Captain Lindsay Paul said flounder were being caught at Bullshead and inside Drawing and Green Channels. Best action has been occurring on the outgoing tide by anglers drifting with Berkley Gulp and live minnow combinations.
Lower Shore – Dez Louie, at Oceans East – Eastern Shore, told me that seaside anglers launching from Oyster and Wise Point were able to catch and release trophy-sized red drum outside the barrier islands, many earning Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament release citations. Anglers targeting black drum in the seaside inlets and behind the islands were finding a smaller class of fish, many in the 18- to 30-inch range, with a few hitting the 50-pound mark. Sea clams and chowder clams have been the productive baits of choice for anglers targeting black drum. Louie said that the more productive flounder fishing action continues to occur a little to the north, but tautog action has been good along the structure of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, with anglers catching limits on crab baits. Overall, Louie said that the fishing continues to improve, with anglers hoping for days with diminishing winds!
Jeb Brady, at Bailey’s Bait and Tackle in Cape Charles, said the recent string of windy days has limited the amount of time that anglers could spend on the water. Brady commented that the black drum are getting larger and more plentiful in the waters behind Smith Island and Fishermen Island with both crab and clam baits producing. He added that big red drum are in the surf as well, with most of the fish being caught on crab baits. Jeb said he expects the schools of black drum to start moving inside the bay and predicted that catch reports should start coming in from Latimer Shoal and buoys 13 and 16. Flounder catches were described as “scarce” due to the poor water clarity and cool water temperatures, but he said that tautog action has been “decent” at the bridge-tunnel and on the offshore wrecks. Stripers and puppy drum catches have been reported along the bayside creeks and shorelines by anglers casting artificial baits.
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 and is a Virginia Press Association award-winning sports columnist.