Eyeing specks and puppy drum — and awaiting rocks

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Dawn Carlyle decked this 7-pound, 4-ounce doormat flounder while jigging a Berkley Gulp at the high rise section of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Photo courtesy of Oceans East – Eastern Shore.

By Bill Hall —

Productive flounder fishing can still be found inside Chincoteague Bay and over the inshore ocean wrecks, while southern Shore anglers have turned their attention to speckled trout and puppy drum. 

Look for an influx of small rockfish into the Chesapeake Bay within the next few weeks.

Chincoteague

Recent flounder action out of Chincoteague has been a little more productive than the waters of Metompkin and Wachapreague. Anglers fishing inside Chincoteague Bay are not finding big numbers of flounder, but what they are catching are large in size, with most keepers measuring over 21 inches and a few fish topping 6 pounds. 

A few speckled trout have been caught by anglers casting artificials around the marsh edges. Surf fishing has slowed up with stingrays dominating the action off the beach. Anglers casting small pieces of Fish Bites have landed some spot, croakers, and kingfish (whiting). 

Heavy seas have canceled most recent offshore trips, but Captain Steve’s Bait and Tackle did register a 45-pound wahoo caught aboard the Deez Knots with Captain Aaron Mattox.

Wachapreague

Captain Lindsay Paul, at Trident Tackle, said the flounder fishing out of Wachapreague is still feeling the effects of the recent northeast winds. The muddied water continues to slow down the flounder action, with the bulk of the fish being on the small side. Paul added that a few speckled trout and puppy drum are starting to show up. The recent winds have prevented the offshore fleet from venturing out. 

Amanda Manzella, at the Wachapreague Inn, said the flounder fishing seems to have slowed from the previous week, though there are fish still around. She added that kayak fishermen have enjoyed some success with trout catches.

Lower Shore

Dez Louie, at Oceans East – Eastern Shore, said even though the state’s cobia season ended last week, anglers are still catching and releasing a few late “stragglers” heading out of the bay. 

The run of large red drum continues off Cape Charles and up at the Cherrystone Reef. Anglers using cut crab for bait have caught an assortment of slot-sized to citation-sized red drum, small black drum in the 10- to 15-pound range, sheepshead, and tautog. 

Large sheepshead and tautog are still being caught at the Concrete Ships and along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel pilings. Yellow-bellied spot and croakers are being landed by anglers using Fish Bites and bloodworm baits off Cape Charles and Kiptopeke. 

Flounder catches are coming from inside the Ditch and along the little bridge, but the largest flatfish have been found around the high rise section of the bridge-tunnel. 

The lower bayside creeks and shorelines are producing catches of speckled trout and under-slot puppy drum. Most of the speckled trout have been on the smaller side, but expect the average trout size to increase as the water temperature cools. Catches off the Kiptopeke State Park Pier have consisted mostly of lots of ribbonfish and small gray trout.

Jeb Brady, at Bailey’s Bait & Tackle, said now that the cobia season has closed, a lot of the local fishermen have turned their angling efforts to more traditional autumn species, primarily speckled trout and puppy drum. 

Successful tactics for speckled trout out of Oyster on the seaside and inside the bayside creeks have included casting Mirrorlures and soft plastics, as well as floating live baits. For puppy drum, artificials fished under popping corks have worked well in the early season. Some slot-sized puppies have been found in the schools roaming the bayside shallows.

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