The tuna arrived off the coast of the Carolinas a while back ago and have migrated into Virginia’s offshore waters in a big way.
But that’s no secret.
Just ask any of the captains and anglers competing in the 17th annual Virginia Beach Tuna Tournament that concludes Saturday at Southside Marina at the mouth of Rudee Inlet.
This year’s event features 102 teams competing for a record $267,050 in cash prizes. Fishing started Thursday, but nobody fished. Mosts teams are working blue water today (Friday June 25).
There are a couple of reasons for the record turnout – people are anxious to get back to the tournament scene and all its parties, and fishing has been good.
“It’s been great,” said organizer Bob Sinclair. “People are excited.”
Most tuna along the coast have been yellowfin and some of them have topped the typical 50-pound class. There are also some bigeye, and that’s what most tournament anglers will be hoping to hook up with.
If there is one issue with tuna fishing off North Carolina and Virginia, it’s the fact that the sharks have shown up. And oh how they love an easy meal.
The tournament ends Saturday and we’ll have the results either that night or on Sunday.
And if you’re not a tournament guy or aren’t going offshore for tuna, there is plenty of other action to keep you real busy on the water.
So how about a Fishing Forecast?
Aside from tuna, bluewater trollers are finding dolphin, some wahoo and an increasing number of billfish. Deep-droppers will find good numbers of tilefish.
And from near-coast to the blue, there are lots and lots of shark.
Spadefish action has fired up, with these giant bluegill-fish battlers available along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and around most navigational buoys in the bay and along the coast. Try to find a seclude buoy or wreck to get away from the chaos.
Red and black drum action continues to provide plenty of opportunity. Cobia are showing in good numbers.
Sheepshead are here and biting along the CBBT.
Flounder catches have been good throughout the lower bay and around many wreck and artificial reefs.
Bluefish and Spanish mackerel are running all along the coast, joined by an increasing number of ribbonfish.
Look for puppy drum and speckled trout in the York and Elizabeth rivers, on the Poquoson Flats and in all three southside inlets.
Pier and surf anglers can expect a large mixed bag including bluefish, founder, Spanish, sea mullet, spot, croaker, puppy drum, speckled trout, and possibly a cobia.
NORTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA
While tuna, dolphin and wahoo top the list for the offshore fleet, billfish numbers are getting pretty good.
Oregon Inlet-based captain Jay Watson on the Widespread can contest to that.
His team out of Raleigh won the 63rd annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament with a 656.5-pounder caught by 19-year-old Cole Pirrung, whose dad is the boat’s owner. The fish was good for a record $1,678,250.
A record 270 teams competed for a total purse topping $4.7 million in the Morehead City-based event.
Anglers are seeing good numbers of billfish out of both Hatteras and Oregon inlets.
Cobia, red drum, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and ribbonfish are the main coastal focus of anglers working close to the coast.
From the surf and piers, and inside the inlets, anglers will find red drum, small black drum, puppy drum, speckled trout, small flounder, sea mullet, spot, croaker, skate, shark and bluefish.
Shellcracker – technically redear sunfish – numbers and size have been outstanding on the Suffolk Lakes, especially Western Branch, Prince and Burnt Mills. Many fish are topping a pound, with some closing in on 2 pounds. And anyone who fishes with microlight tackle can tell you how much fun they are.
Crappie have gone to the deep or can be found schooling in open water.
Blue cats continue to be taken from most tidal systems.
Largemouth bass are still active along shorelines, especially when close to deep water. And we closing in on the time of year when fishing early and late will provide the best options.