Coastal Mid-Atlantic Fishing Report, April 2024

Coastal Fishing Report, April 26 Update:

Things cooled off a bit this week with overnight lows in the 40s making for some chilly mornings on the water, but there’s been some red-hot news for anglers on the coast: although the black drum bite didn’t seem to reach peak action in the surf the bluefish have officially arrived on the beach and beyond. This week we received reports from multiple readers accounting for chopper blues from eight to 12 pounds on Assateague, near Indian River, and at Cape Henlopen. The hot tip from a few anglers is that the blues are running close to the beach in between the sand bars. Cut mullet and fireball rigs have been getting a good number of bites in the surf and plugs or spoons are taking them in the bays. The AIC was in North Carolina last week and said the big blues were thick all the way down to there, too. A handful of big stripers have shown up on the beach as well, and Dave Moore of Shark Whisperers picked up a 38-incher last week (on Assateague). Another surf angler on Assateague reported catching a 38 and 32-inch striper along with a 32-inch black drum. We also had a report from Delaware of smaller snapper bluefish and lots of small stripers hitting the beach near Indian River.

In and around the Ocean city Inlet, bluefish and striped bass are making a showing. Big blues are starting to move into the back bay and the OC Fishing Center let us know that there was good fishing from the Route 50 bridge. A kayak angler fishing behind OC this week reported finding plenty of “schoolie” stripers and some very nice chopper blues.

chopper blues on the beach
A trip to Assateague paid off for James when this big bluefish attacked. Chopper blues have showed up all along the coast in the past week from Delaware down through Virginia.

Flounder action has been getting more consistent too, with some catches coming out of OC in the Thoroughfare this week. The bite still isn’t red hot to the north, so if you want a better chance to catch a limit, it is best to head down to Virginia coastal areas like Wachapreage or Chincoteague. Scott Lenox from Fish In OC was fishing in Virginia’s coastal bays this week and managed four keepers between 17 and 19 inches with another angler. A few big fish over five pounds have been checked in near Chincoteague recently and we even saw a six-pound eight-ounce fish caught this week. Sea Hawk Sports Center says that silversides are definitely producing more bites on pink and chartreuse flounder rigs. They also mentioned a lot of their fish are coming from depths of less than 10 feet. The extended forecast looks like warm weather will be moving back in which should make for some great fishing days. Don’t miss out!

Coastal Fishing Report, April 18 Update:

It is an exciting time of year to fish along the coast with many opportunities to choose from. Offshore tautog anglers found good success at the ocean wrecks and reefs this week. Chasin’ Tides Charters found steady action with plenty of eating sized fish being put in the cooler on recent trips. They have also been catching double digit tog up to 15 pounds which have bene mostly caught and released.

ocean city tautog
Tog are on the rocks, both on the coast and in the ocean. Photo courtesy of Dave Moore

Dave Moore of Shark Whisperers checked in to let us know some good bites have returned with spring, and tautog are inshore too including keeper-sized fish are biting around the OC inlets and along the Second Street bulkhead. He also said that the drum bite on Assateague has been slow on the Maryland side of Assateague but ramping up on the Virginia side, with some skate and northern puffers biting as well.

Speaking of surf fishing, it's finally shaping up and black drum are the main target for beach anglers right now. Sand fleas and chunks of crab have lured the drum to fish finder rigs. If you do some digging, it has been fairly easy to find your own sand fleas for bait. Striped bass have also been showing up in increasing numbers as they start to make their journey back north along the coast to their summertime hangouts. One surf angler reported catching a 38 incher this week. More stripers will be running along the beach over the next few weeks. It is a great time of year to hit the beaches since you have a chance to catch black drum, striped bass, and red drum all in the same area. Clearnose skate, dogfish, and puffers have also been common bycatch in the surf. The OC Fishing Center let us know that flounder action around Ocean City is also picking up with a few fish up to 20 inches caught in the Thoroughfare this week. If you are looking for more consistent action, it is still best to head south to Chincoteague, Wachapreague, or Folly Creek. It is still early in the season, so there shouldn’t be a ton of boat traffic no matter where you decide to go. A few boat limits were reported from Chincoteague and Folly Creek this week and we even heard of a 25-inch weakfish being boated. Flounder fishing will continue to improve, but don’t wait too long to get out for them, the bite is happening now.

Coastal Fishing Report, April 12 Update:

The weather has finally given us some fishable days this week after a slow start to spring. The big news along the coast has been an impressive tautog bite both at the offshore wrecks and inside at places like the Ocean City Inlet and the CBBT. Scott Lenox from Fish In OC let us know that keeper tautog are being caught at the Route 50 Bridge. Earlier in the week, a few anglers were out and caught a load of tog with seven keepers over 16 inches. Another productive spot is the south jetty at the OC Inlet. If you plan to target them, bring plenty of bait because tog are known bait stealers with an impressive ability to pick your offering without getting hooked. Crab baits are their favorite and are regularly caught by using fiddler crabs, sand fleas, green crab, or blue crab. Fish in the double digits are being caught at the offshore sites. The Fish Bound out of OC has had some good trips over the past week with fish up to 14 pounds. They even had a few trips where boat limits were caught. This is a seasonal bite, so take advantage of it while it lasts.

surf fishing for drum
Drum are on at the beach! Drum are on at the beach!

The black drum run is really starting to shape up along the beaches. The warm weather this week has increased activity and many anglers found success from Assateague down to Virginia Beach. The bite has been better the farther south you go. We did see a report from ana angler fishing near the Maryland/Virginia line on Assateague who caught and released a 36-inch black drum. Chincoteague seems to be a hotspot for surf anglers right now and Captain Steve’s Bait and Tackle has had numerous black drum checked in this week. Many of the drum are in the low to mid 20-inch range with some fish well into the 30s being caught. Black drum are also making their way up the Bay into the Pocomoke sound. The bayside fish tend to be on the larger side but are harder to locate. Fish finder rigs baited with crab or clam is doing the trick to get these fish to bite.

Coastal Fishing Report, April 5 Update:

Coastal anglers should be looking to get out as many springtime opportunities are beginning to present themselves. Surf anglers are starting to hit the beaches as they look to take advantage of the spring runs. A handful of black drum are being caught on the Virginia side of Assateague Island, but overall, the drum reports have been slow to start the season. This is likely due to the poor weather to start the spring which has consisted of cooler temps, stiff winds, and a lot of rain. We are anticipating an uptick in surf fishing action as the forecast is calling for more favorable weather next week. Here's our video on how to target 'em:

Historically, the second week of April has been a great time of year to hit the beaches for the drum run and big fish are usually around. Sea Hawk Sports Center let us know that the better drum fishing has been around Chincoteague this week, so the fish are making their way north. Popular baits for drum include sand fleas, clam, peeler crab, and cut bait, but these will also attract dogfish and clearnose skate.

assateague island black drum surf fishing
Tyler had an AMAZING spring break, which included catching this drum in the surf.

The poor weather has also been keeping the flounder bite on the slow side. The best chance at a steadier bite is still at the coastal bays of Virginia’s Eastern Shore. We have heard unconfirmed reports of a few flatties being caught in Ocean City, and Fish In OC confirmed the first official catch yesterday from an angler who caught an 18-incher. The next warming trend should push more fish into the OC inlet and bay areas. Captain Steve’s Bait and Tackle did report good flounder fishing in and around Chincoteague this week with one boat checking in with a three-man limit of fish and another with five nice flounder. Decent bites are also being found in Wachapreague and Folly Creek with more fish pushing into the bays daily.

Tautog are starting to make their way to coastal structure including the CBBT and the OC Inlet jetties and keepers have been caught this week. At the CBBT shrimp fished in 50’ of water was reported to produce a few bites. Lucky Break Charters had a few clients out this week and found a steady tog bite at the OC south jetty. The tog are also biting out at the offshore wrecks and reefs and no doubt at the CBBT, though with the weather we didn’t get confirmation this week. Chasin’ Tides Charters was out last weekend and put his crew on a pile of tog up to 16 pounds. The double-digit fish were released to swim another day for other anglers to enjoy. That is the beauty of catch and release fishing!