A lot is beginning to happen with the rising water temperatures, confirming that the spring procession is finally making progress. This trend should continue to heat up over the next weeks.
Tautog action is still going strong, especially within Bay waters. Tog anglers are scoring using fiddler crabs and clams on most lower Bay structures and wrecks. The rocks and tubes of the artificial islands and the pilings near the High Rise section of the Bridge Tunnel are providing the best results. Most folks are catching limits of fish ranging up to 5-pounds, but some 10-pounders are also around. Deeper ocean wrecks are also producing nice tog, with fish up to around 20-pounds taking crab offered in water ranging to around 70 to 100-feet. If tog is on your list, you had better hurry since the season closes May 1st.
Anglers are thrilled that the flounder action is evolving this week, with reports of keeper flatfish becoming more common. The best flounder action is happening along the Eastern Shore, where fish are coming from the buoys along the Bayside of Cape Charles, as well as the seaside inlets and out of Oyster and Wachapreague. Keepers are also hitting baits within Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets to around 19-inches. Other areas such as Back River and the bend at the third island of the CBBT are also producing scattered early season flatties, but the best is yet to come. These fish are responding to fresh strip bait paired with a gudgeon on an outgoing tide lately.
Nice puppy drum are still hitting inside the Elizabeth River, in lower Bay inlets, as well as along the ocean shorelines. The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reports that folks are catching good numbers of nice pups inside Rudee Inlet using finger mullet and jig heads tipped with grubs. Anglers partaking in speckled trout catch-and -release options are enjoying an increase in activity in the Elizabeth River, particularly in the discharge area of the Hot Ditch and other shallower areas of the River, using top water lures. The arrival of Taylor blues within Rudee Inlet is thrilling surf casters throwing from the rail.
Croaker are now available in various areas in the Bay, especially near Willoughby, Ocean View, and off the Little Creek Jetties. The folks at the Ocean View Fishing Pier report good catches of croaker lately, with anglers filling up coolers with small to medium-sized fish. The bigger hardheads are still coming from the lower Bay Rivers such as the James and York Rivers, using shrimp and squid.
Drum enthusiasts are still anticipating the first catches of big red drum. But, the good news is that one drum variety made its debut last week. The first recreational catches of small black drum occurred from the surf lines of the seaside barrier islands off the Easter Shore. Surf anglers on Smith’s Island are getting hits on crabs and chowder clams. The larger blacks should present in numbers soon, with rumors of sightings of huge schools of blacks passing into the mouth of the Bay recently.
Deep droppers continue to find good hauls of nice black-bellied rosefish, golden tilefish and grouper pushing to over 50-pounds while working the edges of the Norfolk Canyon in water ranging from 600 to 900 feet. Blueline tilefish are also available in shallower water, but the dogfish are still making this fishery difficult to access right now.
The offshore action out of North Carolina is still good when they can get out. Boats are still scoring with some bluefin tuna, scattered yellowfin tuna, blackfin tuna and mako sharks. Hopefully this fishery will heat up soon off Virginia.