Even though spring doesn’t officially begin until Saturday, the region’s angling season decided to jump the gun weeks ago.
Fishing opportunities on all fronts have been fantastic when the weather has permitted. We all know how freaking crazy the weather can be this time of year around these parts.
Spring’s first day might not invite a lot of trips, with highs in the low 50s chilled by strong northeasterly winds. But at least we know that fishing is seriously about to crank up and that’s something we all desperately need after a winter of covid and – ugh – politics.
Throw in the fact the spring turkey season is just around the corner and it’s obvious that better times are closer and closer.
So how about a fishing forecast? Sure, why not, seems like a good time for one.
Speckled trout and puppy drum have been available all winter long, albeit with some very slow action during the weeks of the coldest weather. But overall it was a mild winter and fish have survived. And now both species have started to turn on pretty good, with action coming from the Elizabeth and Lafayette rivers, and from all three Southside inlets. Also look for them around the York River and on the Poquoson Flats
While a few flounder were taken by bottom-bouncers working wrecks for sea bass and tautog, the first inshore action is just around the corner in the backwaters of the Eastern Shore barrier islands. There have already been reports of a few fatties and this is one of the most-anticipated species of the early spring.
That’ll follow with a migration into the lower Chesapeake Bay and finally into the inlets.
Lots of striped bass are available for some super fun light tackle or fly rod action.
Blue catfish, which have been known to push to the eastern portions of the James River in times of low salinity, are being caught by anglers working the pier next to the James River Bridge. The pier is actually a portion of the old bridge and it provides some excellent fishing for much of the year.
Croaker should start showing up in the bay real soon.
And an abundance of shark already are arriving in area waters.
NORTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA
Tuna and shark were caught off and on all through the winter and numbers of both will be increasing with the passing of every warm day.
Red drum already are starting to show on the Outer Banks, both in the surf and along the coast.
Puppy drum and speckled trout also survived with winter in the sounds, so action should really start to pick up.
Look for lots of small stuff – spot, croaker, flounder, sea mullet and blow toads – to start showing in the surf.
This is where the action has really started to heat up.
Anglers working area lakes, ponds and tidal waters in both states have been enjoying great success with crappie and largemouth bass.
While crappie catches should remain good for a few weeks, they will start to wane as waters warm and the fish move deeper.
Largemouth, though, will really turn on in the coming weeks as the fish set the stage for spawning. Lots of bass being caught are already fat with roe.
Catfish action in tidal systems – especially the James, Chickahominy and Northwest rivers – has been pretty good. Lots of big blue cats are being caught, mostly on fresh cut bait.