We’re way overdue for a fishing forecast, so let’s do this.
For a large portion of the angling community, fall is the best time of the year to hit the water. Like spring, it’s a time of year when many species leave and others step to the forefront of attention. It’s also, and arguably so, the best time of year for speckled trout action.
Trout anglers used to attempt to keep all things speckled a “huge” secret. Where to catch them, what lures to use, falling tide or rising tide… Once was the day where if you weren’t throwing a red and white lure, you weren’t trout fishing. Those also were the days when anglers would rather lose a fish at boat’s side than to have someone nearby see what they had caught.
Now there are more things to catch trout on than there are speck anglers – heck, maybe even more than there are fish.
Secret locations? Try just about everywhere in the lower Chesapeake Bay. The mouths of the York, Nansemond, and Elizabeth rivers and in the Elizabeth, miles downriver. Just about any inlet of creek that spills into the bay is holding specks this time of year. The Eastern Shore’s Hungars Creek once was the Mecca of local trout waters – but no more.
And the fishery is no longer a small “fraternity” of anglers, as hundreds of boats and kayaks dot local waters on any given day. Remember, only one fish out of a five-fish bag limit can measure longer than 24 inches.
Now let’s be the master of the obvious – there are lots of other species to target this time of year and action for all of them has been outstanding. Red drum and their juvenile version definitely take part in the fall fun, with big reds being taken along the coast, from the surf and on piers in both Virginia and North Carolina. Pups are being taken largely by anglers fishing for trout, although some targeting is taking place.
The Chesapeake Bay and coastal striped bass seasons are in play, but those fisheries don’t come close to resembling the species’ glory days. Still, there’s lots of fun to be had if you like catch-and-release.
School-sized striper are being found in inlets, schooling under pods of bait, and along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Any pier of structure with lights most likely will produce fish. Angler can keep one rockfish measuring between 20 and 36 inches each day.
After several years of miserable catches, it appears this will be a good fall for spot. Plenty of two-to-a-pound sized fish are available from piers and inside Lynnhaven and Rudee inlets. Enough larger ones are keeping things interesting for what used to be a fall fishing tradition. Tautog catches will be on the upswing as waters cool. But some locations along the CBBT and around coastal wrecks are producing fish.
Coastal and offshore wrecks have been providing plenty of seabass, with some large ones topping five pounds in the mix.
It’s also shaping up to be another excellent season for swordfish, given catches by teams competing in the month-long Ocean’s East Swordfish Tournament that concludes October 31st. And since fish don’t know if you’re in competition or not, they’re biting for anybody that understands the ins and outs of the deep-water fishery.
Charter fleets out of Oregon and Hatteras inlets are finding good numbers of blackfin tuna, with some yellowfin in the mix. Some days are producing lots of dolphin.
And decent sized bluefish are showing in good numbers in both states.
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