It’s finally starting to get a little flat out there, and we’re not talking about the seas.
If you know the deal, flounder have started to make a fantastic showing. Many of the fish are big – as Darrell Green, who was fishing with David Ansell, shows off a couple of Virginia citation-sized flatties caught last week.
Sure, the typical spots in the Chesapeake Bay – the bay-bridge tunnel, old rubble piles, and ditch edges – all are holding fish. And some good ones. But it seems like the best flounder fishing is taking place around the multitude of wrecks and artificial reefs that dot the entire coast. Summer flounder, it seems, are more at home staying around their winter homes than venturing into the bay.
The move reminds us of the day when big bluefish swarmed bay waters then disappeared, soon to be found around wrecks by offshore trollers and bottom-droppers. Catching flatties around deeper hangups is a different style of flounder fishing. But good fishers always have found ways to adapt in order to catch their targeted prey. Angling is, and should be, a constant learning and changing process.
The big flounder are still here, they’re just in a different here.
Of course, flatfish hardly are the only species to target – far from it. We’re in a summer pattern where all of the favorite species have arrived. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a bazillion times: the hardest part of fishing this time of year is deciding just what to target.
One of the most-targeted species is the cobia, which have shown up in the bay and along the coast in good numbers. Some anglers are anchoring, putting chum out, and watching baits drift around near the bottom. More focus has been placed on sight-fishing. It can be a frustrating process, as this extremely curious fish sometimes would rather play with baits and lures, or just swim around the boat checking things out, than take a bite.
Similarly, red drum are also a favorite and often are being found and caught in good numbers by those looking for cobia. Sheepshead are pumping out good action along the CBBT, while spadefish, tripletail, triggerfish, and bluefish are providing some diversity around most navigational structures.
The backwaters of the southeastern-most Eastern Shore barrier islands are holding some tarpon. But be ready for flies and often a battle with a bull shark. Tarpon are also showing in the Outer Banks sounds. A few have been spotted along the coast.
Trollers working close to the coast have the closest thing to a guarantee with ribbonfish – a long, shiny silver prehistoric creature that has saved many a trip looking for Spanish mackerel and bluefish.
Sharks? You’ve heard all the news hype about recent encounters and that’s because there’s an abundance of toothy critters inshore and offshore. A potential state-record hammerhead was released offshore recently. Shark Week is adding to the attention.
Fishing in the three Southside inlets and in several river systems is producing speckled trout, puppy drum, bluefish, and flounder.
Action from piers and the surf is much the same, with some spot and croaker in the mix. Bluewater trollers are finding good numbers of tuna, especially out of the Outer Banks. The action is mostly from yellowfin, but some bigeye and blackfin also are being taken. Catches have also included wahoo and dolphin, with more billfish joining in. Get your catch in ASAP, because sharks know when easy meals are being cranked in.
Tilefish and other deep-water bottom-dwellers can fill the void when the troll isn’t producing.
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