By Bill Hall –
Cobia action has slowed for the second week in a row. Theories for the decline include the high water temperatures and the fish entering the spawning season. Flounder fishing on the seaside remains steady, both inside the inlets and on the ocean wrecks. A monster 11-pound, 6-ounce flounder caught out of Oyster last weekend is the largest flounder registered in the Saltwater Fishing Tournament so far this year. The fish was caught over an ocean wreck by Jim Prendergast while fishing with Greg Harman.
Upper Shore/Chincoteague – Captain Matt Abel, at the Sea Hawk Sports Center, told me cobia in the upper bay may have been a little better this week over last week, but remains slow compared to earlier in the season. Most fish were caught by chumming and bottom fishing. Speckled trout numbers remained low, though the average-sized fish has increased. Sheepshead have moved into the southern waters of the Maryland portion of the bay and are being caught around pieces of structure.
The upper bay Spanish mackerel population has increased to the point that they can be successfully targeted by trolling. On the seaside, flounder fishing has been good from lower Queen Sound south to Quinby. Most of the action has occurred on the last of the incoming tide to the first of the ebb. Flounder fishing on the ocean wrecks has also been productive, according to Abel. Offshore, tuna fishing has slowed, with a few yellowfin, bigeye, and mahi caught in the Washington Canyon.
Wachapreague – Captain Lindsay Paul, at Trident Tackle, told me the flounder fishing out of Wachapreague remains “very good,” with anglers returning with limit catches during periods of good water visibility. A few small croaker are also being caught. Captain Paul described the offshore action as being on the slow side.
Amanda Manzella, at the Wachapreague Inn, also said flounder fishing was good both inside the inlet and on the ocean wrecks. She added that croakers and spot catches have also been made.
Lower Shore – Dez Louie, at Oceans East — Eastern Shore, told me the cobia fishery continues to be on the slow side compared to earlier in the season. Louie theorized that the fish may have entered the spawning season, while combined with the high water temperatures, may have impacted the feeding cycle. Sandbar shark hookups are outnumbering the cobia bites.
Spadefishing has been excellent with lots of fish coming from the fourth island of the bridge-tunnel as well as Plantation Light. The shop continues to weigh in lots of citation sheepshead from the bridge-tunnel and the concrete ships. Spanish mackerel catches are being made by high speed trolling with 0- and 00-sized Clark Spoons when the water is not too grassy. Spanish mackerel catches are coming from the bridge-tunnel to the waters north of Cape Charles. Flounder fishing has improved with the area around the high-rise section of the bridge-tunnel as well as the inshore wrecks producing keeper-sized fish. Catches from the Kiptopeke Park Pier have included croakers, sand mullet (whiting), small flounder, and ribbonfish.
Jeb Brady, at Bailey’s Bait & Tackle, confirmed the cobia fishing has been slow over the last week. Sight casters have reported seeing some large fish cruising the surface, but the fish have shown little interest in eating. Bottom fishermen have not fared much better with some keeper-sized fish. Sheepshead fishing remains excellent around the pilings of the bridge-tunnel. Spadefish action remains good around the bridge-tunnel, Plantation Light, and up at the Cell.
Flounder fishing was described as “decent” in the Ditch and around the Fisherman Island Bridge. Flounder and triggerfish catches are coming from the inshore ocean wrecks. The shop weighed in a huge flounder weighing 11 pounds and 6 ounces for Pat Prendergast. Prendergast caught the doormat on a jig tipped with a Berkley Gulp while fishing over an offshore wreck. Spanish mackerel schools are now established in the lower bay, with Latimer Shoal singled out as a productive area. Catches from the Cape Charles Pier have included ribbonfish, small gray trout, and spot.
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.