With spring fever in the air, many folks are excited about the debut of flounder, especially since this year’s regulations allow four fish per person, with a minimum size of only 16-inches. The lower Bay introductory spring flounder action is sparse, but catches will continue to improve as the water continues to warm. Anglers are already finding some keepers around the 3rd and 4th islands of the CBBT. On the Eastern Shore, the seaside inlet flounder holes out of Oyster are beginning to show some good early season results, while the action in the usual flounder hot spots out of Quincy and Wachapreague is also picking up.
Huge schools of big striped bass continue to make their way to inshore waters, and into the lower Bay as they move toward the rivers to complete their spawning cycle. Although the interest seems to be overshadowed by other species, many of these fish are fat and pushing to over 45-inches. Huge bee hives of working birds have been reported all along the ocean from for the past week or so, hallmarking feeding schools on the move. If you want to catch up, you had better move fast as these fish become off limits in coastal waters at the end of March. In Bay waters, excellent catch and release prospects can provide memorable photo ops for visiting relatives over the Easter weekend.
Tautog is still a great target right now. Plenty of these bottom fish are available on most any offshore and coastal structure, but windy conditions this time of year can make the venture a challenge. Most boats are returning with limits of keeper fish, with several pushing over the 9-pound minimum size for a Virginia state citation. Seabass are still on these same wrecks, which is frustrating since you cannot keep them. The Bay tog activity is showing some life this week, with some fish ranging from 4 to 6-pounds hitting near the Bridge Tunnel and the Concrete Ships. This trend will continue to escalate as the Bay water temperatures creep up.
Puppy drum action is making a stir in both Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets, where anglers are catching fish on Gulp Grubs. Speckled trout had a boost this week, with respectable fish mixed in with the puppy drum in Rudee Inlet and the Elizabeth River. Some anglers are reporting catches of over 30 specks in a day in the River this week, with a few fish pushing to over 25-inches. The shallower water continues to produce the most strikes, with the ledges and drop-offs harboring schools of fish averaging to around 20-inches lately. Slow sinking twitch baits are still the top producer, but as the water temperatures continue to climb, expect top water action to pick up soon.
When the weather allows, boats are still heading to the deep in search of blueline tilefish, golden tilefish, black bellied rosefish, and grouper with very good results.