Fishing from the Shore

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John Tomlin and Tom Ingram show the 80-pound, 8-ounce cobia they caught. Photo courtesy of Oceans East – Eastern Shore.

By Bill Hall –

As expected, cobia fishing has been the prime fishery since its season opening on June 15, with both sight casting and bottom fishing proving successful. Best action has been in the lower Chesapeake Bay between Cape Charles and the Baltimore Channel. Offshore fishing has kicked into gear with yellowfin tuna, dolphin, and the occasional billfish making appearances. Offshore action will continue to improve throughout the summer months and into the early fall.

Upper Shore – Captain Matt Abell, at the Sea Hawk Sports Center, told me flounder action has remained steady over the week, with the better catches coming during light winds and clear water. The flounder population has spread out from skinny to deep water, with best catches coming either side of high tide. The Blackfish Banks reef is starting to produce flounder catches, while spadefish action is occurring on more shallow water wrecks. On the bayside, Pocomoke Sound and Tangier Sound are producing catches of striped bass on cast lures, while red drum are hitting crab baits. Yellowfin tuna and dolphin (mahi) catches have been made in the canyons, with some tuna recently caught along the 20-fathom line.

Chincoteague – Jimmy Vasiliou, at Captain Steve’s Bait and Tackle, reported catches in the surf have included red drum, sharks, whiting, spot, and croaker. Flounder catches are coming from inside Chincoteague Bay. A variety of shark species have made their summertime appearance including hammerheads, black tips, spinners, and sand tigers. Action over the inshore wrecks is starting to heat up with spadefish, triggerfish, and large flounder.

Sandy Lotz landed this 41-inch cobia in the Chesapeake Bay. Photo courtesy of Captain Steve’s Bait and Tackle.

Wachapreague – Captain Lindsay Paul, at Trident Tackle, said the flounder bite remains good with lots of anglers getting their limit. The six-man charter aboard the Foxy Lady all limited out on Friday. Berkley Gulp and live minnows have been the bait of choice. Black sea bass fishing remains productive on the offshore wrecks. Offshore, tuna catches and white marlin releases have been made in the canyons.

Amanda Manzella, at the Wachapreague Inn, told me the flounder bite is “still going great,” with many anglers catching fish. One group of guests had days of 28 and 30 fish in two days of fishing! The group stated it was their best fishing action in several years of fishing out of Wachapreague.

Lower Shore – Dez Louie, at Ocean’s East – Eastern Shore, described the cobia fishing as being “on fire,” with the areas around buoy 16 off Kiptopeke and buoy 36A off Cape Charles particularly productive. Chumming and fishing cut bunker has been the preferred bottom fishing method. Sight casters have been tossing bucktails and live eels to surface cruising fish from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel up to Cape Charles. The shop has registered lots of weight and release citations. Schools of red drum have been popping up in the Baltimore Channel and around the third and fourth islands of the bridge-tunnel.

Atlantic spadefish populations are in good numbers and hitting clam baits fished under bobbers along the bridge-tunnel. Anglers trolling Clark Spoons and casting Gotcha Plugs are targeting Spanish mackerel and ribbonfish. Louie described the flounder fishing as “decent” inside the Ditch. A combination of sand mullet (whiting), croaker, gray trout, and ribbonfish are being caught off Kiptopeke.

Jeb Brady, at Bailey’s Bait & Tackle, told me most cobia anglers are reporting they are getting their boat limits, while releasing additional fish. Deep water cobia action has consisted mostly of sight fishing with eels, while bottom fishing with cut bait has been best from Latimers to buoy 36A. He expected the cobia fishing to remain steady for a while. Flounder fishing was described as “decent,” with action coming from the Ditch and along the bridge-tunnel. Spadefish are entering the lower bay, with groups of fish holding on inshore wrecks and buoys. Sand mullet (whiting) are biting clam and squid baits around the cabbage patch, while pier catches have consisted mostly of small trout and croakers.

Todd Comer landed this 50-inch cobia while fishing with Beach to Bay Guide Service. Photo courtesy of Sea Hawk Sports center.

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.

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