Coastal Mid-Atlantic Fishing Report, August 2021

Coastal Fishing Report, August 27 Update:

Surf fishing was a bit slower than usual this week. As in the Bay, fish in the oceanic surf were shutting down post-morning. With that being said, the morning and evening bites this week were still productive, with the Ocean City Fishing Center reporting that they heard of some of kingfish, bluefish, croaker, and the occasional shark out of the surf. The beaches at Assateague were also packed, with tons of anglers hoping to score throughout the day before the summer ends. Cut spot and FishBites, or bloodworms when they’ve been unavailable, are surf favorites. Soft sandfleas will also bring in an interesting fish medley. Farther south in Virginia Beach the same mix is available with some pompano also in the catch.

first yellowfin tuna
Mark scored his first yellowfin while trolling at the Washington.

Inshore anglers are finding plenty of opportunities to hook up on sea bass. The wrecks are packed, and the Fishing Center mentioned that the wrecks produced a doormat flounder early in the week. This week we also have more mahi in the inshore reports, and finally, they’ve started to pop up with more reasonable frequency offshore as well. Multiple boats returning through the inlet were spotted flying the mahi flag high. In general, the Fishing Center reported that the offshore bite is just so-so. They didn’t have any great tuna reports this week. Virginia boats are also having a tougher time finding tunas recently, though the billfish bite should be on the bounce for the coming weeks.

Special congrats to Billy Gerlach from Jupiter, FL and the crew of the Billfisher for catching the new Maryland record blue marlin! Billy hooked up on the big one trolling a Joe Yee Super Plunger near Washington Canyon, about 70 miles offshore. His blue was a whopping 1,135-pounds, truly the fish of a lifetime, and brought in some serious cha-ching in the MidAtlantic tournament.

Coastal Fishing Report, August 20 Update:

As happens sometimes once summer hits, the offshore reports have begun to vary widely depending on whether you’re located to the north or to the south in our region. Between breezes, thunderstorms, and tight lips that come with the big tournaments (the Midatlantic is in midstream right now) reports in general were thin this week. That said, boats running from Indian River and Ocean City got into some solid tuna action at the northern range of the canyons within running distance, mostly yellowfin but at least a couple bigeye hitting the docks as well. Mahi are still in relatively short supply offshore. At the southern end of the range mahi are around in much better numbers, including some serious bulls and cows. Billfish are scattered up and down the line but as a rule, the middle canyons (think Poor Mans) have been holding fewer fish the past week as compared to the northern and southern extremes. Tilefish are providing a reliable Plan B wherever you may be fishing. The Ocean City Fishing Center also mentioned the tile fish this week, noting that some boats hit the docks with a few in their boxes.

lots of mahi mahi offshore trolling
The crew of the Heat Wave holds up some nice mahi and tilefish, after a day of fishing out of Wachapreague.

Despite the iffy weather boats trolling inshore (mostly using spoons and planers) are still picking up Spanish mackerel up and down the coast from Fenwick Shoals clear down to the NC line. Sea bass remain the highlight for inshore anglers, though, with a bite that really hasn’t seen the usual mid-summer lull. Captain Monty on the Morning Star is reporting a steady pick with jigging spoons working alongside the cut bait. He also notes a rather sporadic here-then-gone inshore mahi bite. Flounder are on the wrecks and reefs as well with Gulp! Swimming Mullet on Fluke Killers drifted along the edges doing most of the catching. From the VA line south spadefish are also a good bet for anglers anchoring over structure with clam bits on small hooks; the Light Tower remains the hottest spot around for this species.

Angler in Chief Lenny Rudow reports that a clamming foray to the bay behind Assateague was very successful, followed by a brief attempt at finding flounder which produced small (up to 12 inch) weakfish in the channel near the airport; a boat back at the ramp that focused on the flatties reported catching mostly smalls with one keeper in the cooler, while jigging.

The surf bite this week was good when the weather wasn’t all riled up. Casting into the surf, kingfish, bluefish, croaker, and sharks were available. Bluefish are being reeled up with more frequency the farther south you go (Virginia Beach being far better than OC and points north for the species), were unperturbed by turbulent waters brought on by the storms, and have been growing in size. The Fishing Center reported a few whopper blues dragged out of the surf.

Coastal Fishing Report, August 13 Update:

Team FishTalk got into the groove at the canyons this week with Talkin’ Trash Sportfishing, scoring six yellowfins, releasing a white marlin, and jumping off a blue, after running in a northward direction from the inlet. Tuna were biting mostly skirted ballyhoo on the troll, with the first hookup less than 20 minutes after getting all lines set. The bite was steady throughout the day, and they did have one double hookup with two yellowfins in the 50- to 60-pound range. Of the six fish caught, three were upwards of 45-pounds and three were 25 pounds-ish. This kept with reports we heard from throughout the week, with the canyons north of OC were producing good yellowfin catches, although some boats were coming home with dry fishboxes. The OC Fishing Center reported that some boats were also running into issues with sharks and there were a few fish snagged by them this week. Readers chunking on the lumps reported few bites, but some very large fish in the 70-plus pound range occasionally showing up. Mahi reports have been surprisingly sparse.

mollie holding a yellowfin tuna
Intrepid Fishing Report editor Mollie Rudow cranked up a nice one!

Boats heading south and those running from Virginia have few tunas to note, though more mahi and some billfish. Many hoping to put meat in the box are turning to tilefish to help fill the void. A few wahoo have also popped up here and there but not enough to target as of yet.

Inshore, reports of seabass were good and there were some fat black seabass landed. At the wrecks, seabass were not in short supply. The OC Fishing Center also had a few reports of flounder off them, but more from the inlet this week. Captain Monty on the Morning Star backed up the reports of unusually good summer bassing plus flounder, and adds that he’s tried for inshore mahi a few times with mixed results and lots of action one day, but little the next. Flounder action is better in the southern region with good catches showing up from both the ESVA bays and the inshore wrecks; shark fishing is also a fun option and two readers checked in from Chincoteague with a mix of flatties and plenty of three- to four-foot sharks caught and released.

Coastal Correspondent John Unkart has been plucking spot from the breakers of Assateague while casting bloodworms and Fishbites, including many that are large enough for dinner, but notes an absence of the usual summer bluefish bite. Dave Moore of Shark Whisperers says that the water was still a bit churned up recently but he still found some flounder at OC’s south jetty using speck-style jig rigs tipped with white plastics. He said there are also plenty of tog along the rocks but they’re undersized fish, and dittos for the stripers at the Route 50 bridge.

Reports from anglers hitting the VA piers and surf include spot, kingfish (roundhead), bluefish, and a Spanish mackerel and there. Trollers working off the beach continue to pull spoons between schools of mackerel and ribbonfish with some snapper blues here and there.

Coastal Fishing Report, August 6 Update:

All reports point to a chaotic scene in Ocean City this week thanks to the WMO (today’s the final day of fishing), with traffic jams aplenty both inside and outside the inlet (as well as on land) and most anglers and sources remaining tight-lipped for the time being. We did have a couple of readers reporting success on yellowfin chunking at the inshore lumps, but the best reports of hot action (at least, the best from those willing to share) was of a rock-solid flounder bite at the inshore wreck and reef sites up and down the coast from Delaware clear through Virginia. Anglers returned to all of the area inlets with limit catches in the mix and the better-than-average flounder bite also has been happening inside the inlet at Wachapreague. Captain Monty has been reporting a steady if not spectacular pick on the sea bass while fishing the wrecks and reefs out of OC, as well, with some of his anglers hitting their limit.

awesome catch of flounder
Chris is one happy guy, after being on the No Static for this limit load of flounder caught at the Old Grounds. Flounder anglers should note that this bite is in prime form all along the coast right now.

Trollers working inshore waters are finding a mix of Spanish mackerel and cutlass fish just off the beach. Small spoons are the ticket and while the water off Virginia Beach continue to offer the best bet, we heard from one angler this week who caught Spanish all the way up near Fenwick Shoals. Reports from Virginia Beach indicate that some nice amberjack have also moved into the area, joining the spadefish at the Light Tower.

Coastal Correspondent John Unkart has been flinging Fishbites and bloodworm baits from the shore of Assateague to catch a mix of kingfish and spot plus croaker and this week reported picking up his first pompano of the season, and a nice snapper blue as well. The Ocean City Fishing Center let us know that there have been flounder in the back bays with a strong preference for drifted squid strips.