Longer days, warmer temps … fishing in our region is really starting to turn on.
And it’s only going to get better.
Not going to waste a bunch of words and such on a lead-in, y’all get the picture.
So bait up a hook, tie on a lure and get them wet – there is a good chance a fish or two will be more than willing to play.
While more species migrate into area waters, a vast majority of angling pressure is being put on red drum, often called channel bass around these parts.
Fish from undersized puppy drum to those topping 50 inches are becoming more and more abundant throughout the lower Chesapeake Bay, along the coast and in the three southside inlets. Don’t forget portions of the Elizabeth River and along the beaches. It’s good fishing right now, as drum are hungry from their trip and willing to cooperate.
If you are looking for meat, anglers can keep three fish a day that measure between 18 and 26 inches. And on light tackle, this size redfish is one of the best fights you’ll ever have.
Anglers working the inlets, backwaters around Oyster on the Eastern Shore, the Elizabeth and shallows around the Poquoson Flats and mouth of the York River also are finding increasing numbers of quality speckled trout. The fish never left the area, but didn’t cooperate greatly with colder water. With temps rising, catches are increasing.
Flounder are becoming more available inside the lower bay and in the inlets, but the best location remains the backwaters of the Eastern Shore barrier islands.
Black drum numbers continue to climb in and around Eastern Shore seaside inlets, with many of those fish moving to the islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel in the coming weeks.
Anglers working the bottom for both species of drum should encounter the season’s first sheepshead in the coming weeks.
Striped bass numbers are good throughout the southern bay, but the season isn’t yet open and will run from May 16 through June 15. Anglers can keep one rockfish a day that measures between 20 and 28 inches. The coastal season opens May 16 and runs through the end of the year.
Pier and surf anglers are seeing increasing numbers of small spot and croaker, some sea mullet, a few bluefish and the occasional puppy drum or speckled trout. Anyone fishing cut bait from the ends of the piers can expect a bigger red drum to show.
Tautog have been providing excellent action for fishers working coastal wrecks and structure (including the CBBT) inside the lower bay. Get in on the catch quick, ’cause the season ends for six weeks beginning May 16.
Offshore, things are picking up. Blue water trollers heading to the extreme southeast are encountering some yellowfin and blacken tuna, along with a few wahoo and dolphin. Action will pick up quickly in late May.
Deep-drop bottom bouncers are finding rosefish, sea bass and tilefish. A short sea bass season will run from May 15-31, followed by a to-the-end-of-the-year season starting June 16.
Golden tilefish are lawful to take now, but blueline season opens on Saturday.
NORTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA
Bluewater action continues to please, with yellowfin and blacken tuna, wahoo and dolphin available out of both inlets. The season’s first billfish also have been caught and released.
Looks like it’s going to be a great early season off the OBX.
Wrecks are starting to produce a wide variety of bottom dwellers.
Big red drum, though, are garnering most of the attention – showing in great numbers along the coast and from the surf. Lots of big fish topping 50 inches have been beached and released.
Surf action is picking up with puppy drum, sea mullet, bluefish, blow toads, spot, croaker and flounder biting. remember, though, flounder are off limits until Aug. 16.
Some anglers also are hooking up with a few striped bass, which currently are off limits.
Catches in the inlets include just about everything being caught from the surf.
And speckled trout are providing fantastic action from from the beaches and in the sounds.
Most largemouth bass and crappie have finished the spawn, although it’s not unusual for a late mating season sometime in May.
Crappie will start to migrate to slightly deeper structure away from the shore in the coming weeks.
But largemouth bass will continue to roam shoreline cover until waters get too warm. And this is the time to start working Back Bay grass beds.
Catfishing, especially for big blues, has been fantastic on most tidal rivers.