The following Virginia Fishing Report is courtesy of Dr. Julie Ball:
Weekly Sportfishing Rundown
10 January 2014
The Mid-Atlantic region experienced frigid record-breaking weather this past week, and now we are looking forward to a weekend predicted to hit over 70-degrees. No wonder the fish seem confused. But anglers are still hopeful as many hit the water in search of the winning fish for the famous Mid-Atlantic Rockfish Shootout running through the weekend.
The news of the long-anticipated first catch of big ocean rockfish spread like wildfire when the crew aboard the ĎKatherine Anní skippered by Captain Neal Taylor out of The Virginia Beach Fishing Center scored with a limit of nice fish pushing to nearly 40-pounds this week. The captainís hunch was rewarded, intercepting the school of whoppers after running north looking for signs of feeding activity. Unfortunately, the same game-plan was not successful for the first day of the tournament, as the school moved further off the beach, and well out of reach. With no fish registered on the first day of the tourney, folks are anticipating tough fishing conditions over the next few days. Although plenty of bait is available inshore, with coastal water temperatures already hovering in the low forties, some captains fear these dropping water temperatures could push the fish to the south or keep them favoring deeper water offshore. Remember to remain within the 3-mile boundary for legal rockfish, and if you plan to target fish further south off North Carolina, a North Carolina fishing license is required.
Catching and releasing big stripers at the High Rise section of the CBBT and off Plantation Light in Bay waters is still an option, but windy conditions and the recent cold snap are keeping many boats off the water recently.
The other main event is speckled trout, but quickly dropping water temps are concerning speck experts as well. Most fish are sitting deep in the water column, so a slow retrieve on the bottom can entice the trout to strike a lure in chilly conditions. Good numbers of decent fish are still coming from the Elizabeth River, but the folks at Oceanís East 2 report the bite is becoming scattered. Folks are hooking specks while casting Mirrolures and jigs, trolling, live bait fishing, as well as fishing with cut bait, especially in the Cove and the Hot Ditch discharge area. Puppy drum are also providing good action in the Elizabeth River as well as Rudee Inlet.
Tautog are still available within Bay waters for now, but the offshore wrecks are quickly becoming a better choice as the temperatures continue to drop. These same deep water structures are holding nice seabass, but remember to release them due to the closed season.
Rumors of bluefin tuna sightings, spooled reels, and lost fish from the inshore lumps to within a few miles off the coast, continue to lure boats out in search of these elusive tuna. Before you target these beasts, be sure to check the regulations carefully and take gear appropriate for battling these fierce fighters.
When the weather provides opportunity, folks are targeting deeper water bottom dwellers such as blueline tilefish. Several bluelines up to around 12-pounds were boated recently, as well as grouper, golden tilefish, blackbellied rosefish, and big grouper. A few boats are also trying their hand at swordfishing. With good weather at a premium this time of year, these trips will be limited.