While a ton of attention is being paid to the current offshore billfish tournament season, there’s plenty of action throughout the region for those not participating. This is the time of year when all of our regular summer species are making local waters their home.

I’ve said it a million times, but the toughest thing about this time of year – other than beating the heat – is deciding what species to target. Keep in mind that, with the right tackle, you can be ready for catching more than one species during the day – drum and cobia, sheepshead and spadefish, sea bass and flounder… you name it.

So let’s take a look at what’s happening on the water.

Flounder catches have been improving lately, with flatfish being taken from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, any kind of bottom feature in the bay, and from around near-shore wrecks and artificial reefs. Such structure also holds triggerfish, spadefish, and seabass.

Sheepshead action has been pretty good along the CBBT span.

Spot and croaker are abundant, but small, throughout the area.

Look for big red drum and cobia roaming the bay and coastal waters. If you see a school of rays near the surface, chances are good there is a cobia around.

Puppy drum and speckled trout have been a steady blessing in the lower bay when other species aren’t in the mood to play. The best chances for these two light-tackle favorites will come from the York and Elizabeth rivers, the Poquoson Flats, Eastern Shore bay-side creeks, and in the Southside’s three inlets.

Anglers in the know will find tarpon in the Eastern Shore’s barrier island backwaters, but this fishery isn’t for everybody. It’s hot and humid, the bugs are brutal and you’ll likely spend more time-fighting bull sharks than tarpon.

Trollers working the coast are hooking up with bluefish, Spanish mackerel, and ribbonfish (like the one in the photo).

Blacktip, spinners, and small hammerhead shark are abundant along the coast and provide a ton of fun.

Offshore deep-droppers continue to find outstanding action for tilefish.

The bluewater trolling action has been hit and miss, but generally pretty good when the bite is on. In the mix are billfish, tuna, dolphin, wahoo, and shark.

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